HAVANA, Cuba, Monday September 29, 2014 – What started out as a fragrant celebration of the memories of Ernesto Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez deteriorated into a stink overnight after it got up the noses of supporters of the Cuban Revolution.
The odious affair began on Thursday with the unveiling of two new colognes – “Ernesto” and “Hugo” – by Labiofam, a state laboratory in the Cuban capital.
According to the pharmaceutical company, “Ernesto,” the cologne named after the Argentine-born revolutionary who fought alongside Fidel Castro in the 1959 Cuban Revolution, would be a woodsy and refreshing citrus scent with notes of talc.
“Hugo,” named after the late Venezuelan president, who was a close ally of the communist Caribbean country and a friend of its former leader Fidel Castro, would offer a softer, fruitier fragrance with hints of mango and papaya.
During the launch, Isabel Gonzalez, vice-president for research and development at Labiofam, said the colognes would be “very attractive,” but stressed that “the names also mean a lot to us.”
The pharmaceutical company had been in the process of developing stylised bottles and labels for the fragrances before marketing them in Cuba and overseas.
“We didn’t want to create propaganda, but rather pay homage to them [Guevara and Chavez) and help their names endure,” Cuban biochemist Mario Valdes, who led the perfume design team, said on Thursday.
Labiofam also stated that it had obtained the agreement of the families of Guevara and Chavez to use their names for the colognes.
All appeared to be smelling like a rose until the project was derided in the social networks and lambasted by supporters of the Cuban Revolution, who deemed it disrespectful.
Enter the Cuban government, which, in a statement in the official Granma newspaper, described the project as “a serious error” and denied that the families of the two late revolutionary leaders had been consulted over the use of the names.
“The details of this irresponsible action were discussed in detail on Friday with the company’s director and the employees who presented the products, which were still being developed,” read the statement of the Executive Committee of the Ministers’ Council, headed by Cuban President Raul Castro.
“The appropriate measures will be taken to deal with this serious error,” it warned.
“The symbols of the Revolution are and will always be sacred.”