The first stop of the tour of U.S. President Barack Obama in Cuba, the first since Calvin Coolidge in 1928, began in controversy with a photo. Social media distributed a pic of Obama along with members of the U.S. delegation posing in front of a mural of Che Guevara in the background.
The photo took place in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, where Obama laid a wreath at the monument for Jose Marti. But it was the Guevara pic that drew the wrath of those who recalled Guevara as the Marxist revolutionary who joined Fidel Castro in the revolution that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Guevara still attracts strong emotions from those who cheered his battle against Capitalism and those who see him as the epitome of the socialism movement that later transformed Cuba into a Communist nation. Many felt it was inappropriate for a U.S. President, the perceived leader of world freedom to be seen and photographed with a figure that many see as the polar opposite.
Despite that, Obama seemed to rebound well when he attended the Cuban National Team vs Tampa Bay Rays exhibition game yesterday which the Rays won 4-1. Publicly smoozing with Derek Jeter, who is baseball royalty and part of the delegation, didn’t hurt. Obama should be able to ride out this storm if he stays away from posing near landmarks or symbols that can misconstrued.