Che Guevara caught on camera

Campaign News | Monday, 29 June 2009

Giles Dilnot from the BBC reports on unseen colour photos

Che Guevara caught on camera

Most people recognise Che from this traditional Korda image

New photographs of Che Guevara cast fresh light on Cuba's famous revolutionary leader.

Giles Dilnot tells the remarkable story of the publication of new photographs of Che which have never been seen before.

It's doubtful that those within the UNITE union, who decided having a small slightly over-grown garden with benches around the outside would be a pleasant addition to their offices in North London, envisaged it hosting quite such an unusual and poignant gathering.

Che in colour for the first time

Fifty years after a young Nicola Seyd had visited Cuba with a student work brigade to support the new Revolution, there she was sitting in the sun next to, Aleida, the eldest daughter of Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Like her father, Aleida Guevara is a Doctor and holds a senior hospital position in Cuba.

But there's no denying, it's quite a legacy to be the daughter of a man whose face and image is known the world over.

He's a man whose portrait by Alberto Korda has adorned T-shirts, badges and posters for decades.

The irony is - there are hardly any colour photographs of him.

There are more now.

Nicola Seyd, who's still as supportive of Cuba today, seemed honoured to be revealing three large prints she took in 1960.

They are pictures of a smiling Che that his daughter and almost everyone else had never seen.

Dr Guevara, looked at the shots, and laughed.

Che Guevara listens intently

It was the laugh of recognition, the humour of an intimacy remembered.

"Of course, I laughed, it's natural, he is, after all my Dad."

Both women seemed very taken with the connection.

The shots had been informal, Che Guevara smiling and laughing too, and, incidentally snapped before Aleida was born.

"This lady has given me back a moment of my father's life. That's beautiful."

Nicola Seyd is a modest lady, and admitted back when she took the pictures, she didn't know the face she was capturing would be as important as he became.

"To be honest, I didn't really know who he was, except part of the band with Fidel who had survived in the mountains before the Revolution."

Dr Guevara is all too aware of what her father represents, but the last time she saw him, she did not know he was her father.

Che Guevara during his time as a revolutionary

She was five, he was heavily disguised before leaving for Bolivia (where he would be killed) and at an evening party where young Aleida banged her head.

So tenderly did the man pick her up and look after her, that despite not recognising him, she felt a deep connection, so much so she told her mother, "Mama, I think that man is in love with me".

If you must lose your father at such a young age, that's quite a memory to have.

Photo credits

The Che Guevara colour photographs are by kind permission and copyright of the Cuba Solidarity Camapaign. They must not be reproduced without permission.

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