14ymedio, Havana, 14 October 2022 — The Lepple jewelry store, located in the German city of Esslingen am Neckar, in the region of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg state, apologized Thursday for having used an image of Fidel Castro to promote the luxury watch brand Rolex.
“The portrait of Fidel Castro has been removed and discarded this Thursday morning,” Lepple’s owner assured 14ymedio. “We were not aware of all the terrible crimes attributed to Castro and we have made sure that this image will never again be used in any promotion or activity of the store,” he explained.
He clarified that the Rolex brand had nothing to do with the use of the image, nor had he recommended its use in Leppel’s showcase. Neither the photograph nor Fidel Castro “are involved in any way with Rolex”.
“We send our deepest apologies to those who may have been offended by our use of this image,” he concluded.
The photograph of the Cuban dictator, smiling while smoking and revealing a Rolex under his sleeve, was denounced on her social networks by singer Aymée Nuviola, who discovered it while strolling through Esslingen.
It is no surprise that Castro is associated with all kinds of products, including luxury ones, which some brands and establishments, both on the island and worldwide, take advantage of for advertising. The most emblematic product is undoubtedly the Cohiba cigar and its various products, which Castro had manufactured in 1967 to entertain leaders and diplomats allied with the regime, and which has just generated almost three million euros in revenues for Habanos, S.A.
Revolution watch magazine published an article in 2018 that explored Castro’s relationships with “the Crown,” the symbol of Rolex. Several photographs show him wearing the celebrated Rolex Submariner 5513, which he used for scuba diving, one of his favorite pastimes.
Also, like the Cohiba cigar, Castro used to give watches of this brand to prominent officials and loyal agents. This is attested to by the testimony of Norberto Fuentes in his book Dulces guerreros cubanos [Sweet Cuban Warriors] (1999), which refers to the “disgraceful Cuban wearers of Rolexes,” himself among them.
“The Rolexes displayed from the windows of the Ladas fulfilled an important assignment,” Fuentes said of the “top brass” of the regime. “They were the attributes, the insignia. They fulfilled the important task of enhancing our dignity, which — like all legitimate dignity — is physical. The crème de la crème of the fraternity of the revolutionary combatants.”
The attachment of the leaders of the revolution to their Rolexes was such that when Ernesto Guevara was captured in Bolivia in 1967, the Argentinean was wearing two of these watches on his wrist. One belonged to a dead commander, the other was his own. One of Guevara’s last requests to Captain Gary Prado, the Bolivian military officer who captured him, was to guard his watches for when he was released.
Some time later, in 1983, Prado sent the Argentinean’s watch to his family in Havana. In exchange for the souvenir, the Castro government gave him a new Rolex.
Translated by: Hombre de Paz
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