Image: Destroyed monument
A Venezuelan official said the glass monument to the Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara was shot at and attacked with a sledgehammer.
updated 10/19/2007 6:45:28 PM ET 2007-10-19T22:45:28

A glass monument to revolutionary icon Ernesto “Ché” Guevara was destroyed less than two weeks after it was unveiled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government.

Images of the 8-foot-tall glass plate bearing Guevara’s image, now toppled and shattered, were shown Friday on state television, which said the entire country “repudiated” the vandalism.

The monument on an Andean mountain highway near the city of Merida was unveiled Oct. 8 by Vice President Jorge Rodriguez and Cuba’s ambassador to Venezuela to mark the 40th anniversary of Guevara’s death.

Chavez venerates Guevara as a model socialist for all Venezuelans. He named a state-funded adult education program “Mission Ché Guevara,” and murals of the iconic revolutionary have become a common sight in Venezuela.

Police said they had yet to identify those responsible. The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional published a copy of what it said was a flier found by the monument signed by the previously unknown “Paramo Patriotic Front.”

“We don’t want any monument to Ché, he isn’t an example for our children,” the flier read. It called Guevara a “cold-blooded killer” and said the government should raise a monument in Chavez’s hometown of Sabaneta, in the nearby lowland plains, if it wants to commemorate the Argentine-born revolutionary.

Venezuela to replace monument
But the government will put up the monument again in the same spot, Deputy Culture Minister Ivan Padilla Bravo told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency. He said the vandals not only shot at the glass plate but also appear to have taken a sledgehammer to it.

Although no suspects have been identified, Padilla said it must be the work of a group with links to Venezuelans and Cubans living in Miami, who oppose both Chavez’s government and that of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The 1.5-inch-thick stele was erected near the top of El Aguila Peak, a popular tourist spot and one of the highest points in Venezuela at 13,143 feet feet above sea level.

Guevara visited this spot in 1952 during his travels through South America, which he recorded in his diary, before joining the Cuban revolutionary struggle led by Castro.

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