Dieter Zetsche and Che Guevara: It was not a shining moment of corporate conscience.
Zetsche , Mercedes-Benz Chairman of the Board of Management, told journalists at the Consumer Electronics Show, “Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism. But if that’s the case, viva la revolucion!”
Behind Zetsche was an enormous projection of the famous photo of the Communist thug Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a three-pointed Mercedes-Benz star photoshopped onto Guevara’s beret where a five-pointed star had been.
Apparently, Zetsche was trying to be lighthearted while describing CarTogether, a car sharing network that, rather than timeshare or subscription multiple user car arrangements, would connect drivers and potential passengers headed in the same direction electronically. Mercedes could easily have called it eCarpooling, or iHitchhike.
Instead, Zetsche invoked the specter of Guevara, who in his part in establishing the Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba, was responsible for the executions of hundreds political opponents…or those who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Guevara described himself as an “effective, violent, selective and cold-blooded killing machine.” That Che has come to adorn everything from T-shirts to coffee cups and beyond—but particularly T-shirts—is discussed in “The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
That Zetsche would affiliate Daimler-Benz with Guevara and his “revolucion” suggests the naivete of a college freshman or an unpardonable callousness. Despite oestalgia, would Zetsche similarly elevate Egon Krenz, the final “leader” of East Germany? We hope not. We’ve seen the remains of the Berlin Wall.
Herr Dr. Zetsche owes an apology.