Another Attempt To Remove the Statues of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in Mexico City Fails

A deputy has called for the removal of the monument to “the murderers” located in a central park

The sculptures were placed in 2017 to commemorate the meeting of the two celebrities 69 years ago / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Adyr Corral, Mexico City, 6 July 2024 — In Tabacalera park in Mexico City, very few people have heard about the call that Deputy América Rangel made this Thursday on social networks to remove the sculptures of Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara. Rangel, who belongs to the conservative National Action Party, sought to emulate the no less picturesque controversy generated by the call that neighbors of a beach in Progreso, Yucatan, have made to remove a sculpture of the Greek god Poseidon, because its presence on the boardwalk of the city has infuriated the Mayan god Chaac.

“Now that in Yucatan they are organizing to remove the statue of Poseidon, here in Mexico City we must do the same to remove the statues of the murderers Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Who is in?” the capital deputy published on her X account.

But Rangel’s harangue, which was fueled by some of her followers, did not have the desired effect outside the social media bubble, and no one arrived with chains and a truck to remove the life-size bronze sculptures, which some of those who celebrated the idea had suggested in the comments.

There have been no strange movements in the park, which is hidden behind the National Museum of San Carlos, where time passes at a less dizzying pace than in the rest of Mexico City. Located in what was once the garden of the Palacio del Conde de Buenavista, it is now located in one of the red zones of the metropolis where trans prostitutes negotiate the price of their services and drugs are for sale, especially cocaine and poor quality meth.

“There are many people in a vulnerable situation, also a lot of drug sales”

“There are usually many people in a vulnerable situation, also a lot of drug sales, people who come here to get high. The atmosphere has deteriorated for a long time,” said a museum security guard, whose main task is to guard an entrance that leads directly to the park and the two bronze-cast figures sitting on a bench, as if they were any couple.

“For me it’s an aberration to have these statues here,” says a neighbor who walks his dog. “We have countless national heroes, why are we going to have these individuals, if Castro was a dictator?” asks Roberto Domínguez Ortiz, an 84-year-old man who has lived across from the park for more than 40 years.

Dozens of homeless people spend the night in the park after spending their day asking motorists for money in exchange for cleaning their windshields at traffic lights or collecting cardboard and plastic bottles, in exchange for which some coins can be earned in recycling centers.

Juan is one of them. After listening attentively to his eighty-year-old neighbor, he approaches and questions why they put Castro and Guevara in that place. “Shouldn’t they be somewhere else? In Cuba, for example?” He says that the bench where Fidel and Che are smoking a cigar and a pipe, respectively, once broke, because a tree fell on it.”

Castro and Guevara are looking towards an immense fountain – now without water – that has become a bathtub and laundry room for the park’s tenants. Juan, who is not more than 30 years old and sports a scruffy beard along with some tattoos on his right arm, says sarcastically that Fidel and Che often serve as a clothesline to dry the clothes newly washed in the fountain.

Fidel and Che have become the clotheslines for homeless people / Crónicas al hilo / X

Castro and Guevara were placed in this park because it is located a few blocks from the building where they met while they lived in Mexico. On the facade of the building where the meeting took place, a plaque reads: “This place of the Cuauhtémoc (neighborhood of the city) was where, in July 1955, the first meeting between Fidel Castro Ruz and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna took place. In honor of the role that both personalities have had in the revolutionary struggle of Latin America.”

The building is a three-story building located at 49 José de Emparán Street. It remains inhabited but in deplorable condition, without glass in the windows, which have cardboard and wood so as not to let in the cold and prevent the curious from looking in. If you look at the facade, it is easy to detect several visible cracks in the red paint, probably the result of the constant earthquakes that shake the Mexican capital.

The apartment building where both met in 1955 / 14ymedio

Senator Ricardo Monreal, a staunch supporter of former president Andrés Manuel López Obrador — who installed the sculptures in 2017 — said when he was mayor of Cuauhtémoc, “Many may not agree with Fidel or Che but this community is tolerant.” In September 2021, the sculpture was vandalized by demonstrators, who threw white paint at it, damaging the copper patina. The protest was directed against the Government of López Obrador, days after he received Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel. At that time it was also suggested that the figures be removed, but the initiative failed.

The white paint was removed and the patina restored, but recently someone wrote a message with a black pen in the notebook that Castro is holding: “Whoever finds the thief and returns what was stolen will be rewarded.”

Not only was white paint thrown at them but propaganda was also placed against López Obrador on the statues / Manuel Amador/X

Translated by Regina Anavy


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