Phil Kerpen

On September 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent an internal email to its staff under the subject line "Hispanic Heritage Month." The email, obtained by The Weekly Standard magazine, featured a picture of infamous communist butcher Che Guevara with the slogan "hasta la victoria siempre," or "on to victory, always."

Che has long been a hero of communists and other radicals for his brutal tactics, and the iconic photo of Che taken Alberto Korda has shown up in inappropriate places before. But it is especially chilling to see Che's image being used by a government agency that has pursued an astonishingly aggressive anti-growth and anti-property rights agenda.

The seeming ubiquity of Che's image should not desensitize us to the depravity of the man. Alvaro Vargas Llosa explained the depths of Che's evil a few years ago in the New Republic. He noted that Che wrote in "Message to the Tricontinental" in April 1967: "hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine."

In January 1957, Che murdered Eutimio Guerra, writing his diary: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain.... His belongings were now mine."

Most infamously, Fidel Castro put Che in charge of La Cabaña prison, where he summarily executed hundreds of men - over 500 according to U.S. State Department cables. According to Llosa, jazz musician Paquito D'Rivera wrote a letter criticizing the approving use of Che's visage. D'Rivera wrote that one of Che's prisoners "was my cousin Bebo, who was imprisoned there precisely for being a Christian. He recounts to me with infinite bitterness how he could hear from his cell in the early hours of dawn the executions, without trial or process of law, of the many who died shouting, 'Long live Christ the King!'"

The EPA email said, apparently unaware of the irony: "Religion plays a significant role in the daily life of Hispanics with more than 90% of the population being Roman Catholic. Churches and spiritual activities influence family activities and families unite together to involve in prayers and sermons."

So what could the EPA have meant by using a picture of the murderous Che with the slogan "on to victory, always"?


Phil Kerpen

Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.

American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.

Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.

Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.

Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.