According to Irish newspaper The Journal, the Irish government and An Post, the national postal service, are receiving criticism for the decision to issue a commemorative stamp. Released on 9 October to coincide with his death, the stamp features the well-known image of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

Although the artwork was made by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, the stamps are clearly labelled to commemorate the death of Guevara. There are, however, some issues with both Guevara’s track record, as well as the artwork in question. As The Journal states, three weeks ago, an image of Guevara was removed from a Miami Airport poster that celebrated famous figures with Irish ancestry. According to Cuban-American journalist Ninoska Perez, the poster was removed because:

it was offensive to the families of so many victims of Che Guevara. Every time that I see someone with a t-shirt or that I see a country put his face on a stamp, I think what did he do to deserve this? What have been his achievements?

To Perez, it is incomprehensible that Ireland chose to commemorate Guevara. She claims that the idea of Guevara as an iconic figure of freedom and nationalism is “just a propaganda myth that has been created by communism“, and that she’d love for the stamp to be abolished.

It doesn’t matter that it’s an image created by an artist, it’s the image of a murderer. And to me it’s really shameful that Ireland would put the image of someone who was a foreigner, went to Cuba to kill… was a failure in everything he did. So I don’t know what’s there to honour about Che Guevara.

The Irish Times report that Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond has written to the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, asking for an explanation for the commissioning of the stamp. In a response to a query by Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the Irish Public Broadcaster, a spokesman for the Department of Communication said, seemingly rather unhelpfully, that:

subject matter for stamp designs are presented to Government in advance. This particular subject matter (Che Guevara) was submitted and approved by Government in December 2015 as per normal procedures.

Meanwhile, the artist of the the image, Jim Fitzpatrick, speaking to RTÉ’s Six One said it was extraordinary that the stamp features the revolutionary, given what he describes as the “bad propaganda that is out there about him.” For him, Guevara remains a ‘hero’.

Well, a hero who had a visceral hatred for the individual and human dignity, perhaps. You decide.