Che—de la Serna, not Lynch

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2008), Letters, Volume 16

Sir, —Owing to my interest in Latin American history and politics, Ipicked up the July/August 2008 issue (Ireland and Latin America) withgreat interest. Looking at Jim Fitzpatrick’s famous reworking ofKorda’s photo of Che at a public funeral in Havana, however, I spotteda factual error that seems to have passed into fact, particularly inIreland. The poster is entitled ‘Ernesto Che Guevara Lynch’, obviouslyto highlight Che’s Irish heritage. But Ernesto Guevara Lynch wasactually the name of Che’s father. The Spanish method of nomenclatureis that individuals formally have two surnames. For example, if Irishnames followed the same structure and my mother’s name was Murphy, Iwould be Martin McCann Murphy. Ernesto junior’s mother’s maiden namewas Celia de la Serna, so his formal name was actually Ernesto Guevarade la Serna. It was Ernesto senior who had a mother named Lynch. Irecognise that we as a nation like to highlight our role in, andconnections to, most historical events, and this is not to deny thatChe had an Irish heritage, but there are enough myths andmisconceptions about the man without his name being one. —Yours etc., MARTIN McCANN Belfast

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