UCLA event compares communist dictator Che Guevara to Jesus

The former professor referred to Guevara as a "hero of the Cuban Revolution," but did not mention the guerrilla leader's murders in this conflict.

A University of California-Los Angeles professor emeritus gave a presentation in which he compared Che Guevara to Jesus Christ through events like the crucifixion.

The University of California-Los Angeles hosted a seminar Thursday that compared communist dictator Che Guevara to Jesus, with the speaker calling Guevara a “quasi-divine cosmic force” and showing numerous art pieces depicting Guevara with a crown of thorns and crucified.

UCLA Professor Emeritus of Art History David Kunzle was invited by the Department of Religion to make Wednesday’s presentation, titled, “Chesucristo: The Fusion in Image and Word of Che Guevara and Jesus Christ,” which was based largely on his book of the same name.

“Che Guevara, once the epitome of armed struggle, has evolved to an avatar of justice, peace, and love, as Jesus always was but no longer is exclusively,” Kunzle said. The professor referred to Guevara’s portrayal in one of the slides of his presentation as “a quasi-divine cosmic force.” During the course of the lecture, Kunzle labeled Jesus “leader of an armed guerilla struggle against Rome” and drew a parallel between Guevara’s execution and Jesus’ death. 

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Kunzle also referred to Guevara as a “hero of the Cuban Revolution,” and referenced depictions of him as landscape and nature.

“As God created light -- is light -- Che is radiance,” the professor said, referring to his name as a “sacred trinity of letters” at another point.

The event, which Campus Reform attended, was largely filled with fellow UCLA faculty and staff. The hour-long presentation was followed by a thirty-minute Q&A period, where some of the attendees mentioned their own visits to Cuba and one faculty member ruminated on his experiences personally meeting Guevara. 


Kunzle showed photos depicting Guevara with a halo, his head with a crown of thorns, and Guevara as Christ with the Virgin Mary hovering over him. Guevara was also shown graphically crucified in the nude in place of Jesus at Calvary, with Bolivian soldiers standing in for Romans and peasants acting as the apostles.

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The attendees appeared to approve of the depiction of Jesus and Guevara, going so far as to call the latter individual a “martyr” in some of their own remarks in the Q&A portion.

“I believe anyone has the right to discuss any opinion they have, that’s why universities exist,” David Johnson, a third-year student at UCLA, told Campus Reform. “But this is offensive on a different level.”

Kunzle seems to have hosted the talk at least once before, in 2011.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @arik_schneider