Che the revolutionary hero? Ruthless serial killer more like it.

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Like those tall tales, Fidel's myth of Che bears a superficial resemblance to historical facts, but the real story is far darker. Some Robin Hood probably did brutalise the rich and, to cover his tracks, give some of his loot to the poor. In medieval Spain, Quixote-like knights probably did roam the countryside, ridding it not of dragons but of the land's few remaining Muslims.

The same goes for the legendary Che. No teenager in rebellion against the world or his parents seems able to resist Che's alluring image. Just wearing a Che T-shirt is the shortest and cheapest way to appear to be on the right side of history.

What works for teenagers also seems to work with forever-young movie directors. In the 1960s, the Che look, with beard and beret, was at least a glib political statement. Today, it is little more than a fashion accoutrement that inspires a big-budget Hollywood epic. Are Che theme parks next?

But once there was a real Che Guevara: he is less well known than the fictional puppet that has replaced reality. The true Che was a more significant figure than his fictional clone – he was the incarnation of what revolution and Marxism really meant in the 20th century.

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