On the opposite side of the square to the north, the ultimate Cuban photo opportunity is presented by the Memorial Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a stylized steel frieze replica of Alberto “Korda” Gutierrez’s famous photo of Guevara, titled Guerrillero Heroico – the most widely recognized image of him. The sculpture that you see now on the wall of the Ministry of Interior building, where Guevara himself once worked, was forged in 1993 from steel donated by the French government. Taken on March 5, 1960, during a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre freighter explosion on Calle 23, Korda’s photograph, with Guevara’s messianic gaze fixed on some distant horizon and hair flowing out from beneath his army beret, embodies the unwavering, zealous spirit of the Revolution. It was only in 1967, after his capture and execution in Bolivia, that the photo passed into iconography, printed on T-shirts and posters throughout the 1970s as an enduring symbol of rebellion.
Korda, who died in 2001, famously received no royalties from the image, and even gave its wide dissemination his blessing. As a lifelong supporter of the Revolution and Guevara’s ideals, he believed that spreading the image would allow Guevara’s ideals to spread alongside it, which neatly allows for the image’s commercial use in Cuba itself.