'Eau De Revolution': Cuba Scents Honor Che, Chavez
HAVANA — Sep 25, 2014, 2:30 AM ET
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ Associated Press
Two bottles of cologne, one called "Ernesto" honors guerrilla leader
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and "Hugo," for the late Venezuelan president
Hugo Chavez are shown in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. The
two scents so far have generic bottles and... View Full Caption The
Call it "Eau de Revolution."
Cuba's biggest producer of natural products has come up with a pair of
colognes for the discerning supporter of international socialism who
wants something more than just the iconic "Che" T-shirt.
A woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder called
"Ernesto" honors guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara. For those
seeking something softer and fruitier, there's a blend with hints of
mango and papaya called "Hugo," for the late Venezuelan President Hugo
"They will be very attractive colognes, but the names also mean a lot to
us," said Isbel Gonzalez, vice president for research and development
for Labiofam, which produces homeopathic medicines, cleaning products
and dietary supplements.
Formulated by a French company and produced in Cuba, the colognes are
being presented this week at a Labiofam convention in Havana. The two
scents so far have generic bottles and simple printed labels bearing
only their names. But Labiofam is developing more attractive bottles and
labels with hopes of putting the colognes on sale in Cuba and
internationally, Gonzalez said. She declined to provide a timeline.
Labiofam officials said they and French firm Robertet worked for more
than 1 1/2 years to produce the colognes. The Cuban company polled 122
visitors to other pharmaceutical conventions to determine what names
people preferred from a pre-selected list of options.
"It was a great challenge," said Cuban biochemist Mario Valdes, who led
the scent design team.
The French company did not respond to a request for comment.
Labiofam is also producing a pair of women's perfumes called "Amalia"
and "Alba." While ALBA is the Spanish acronym for the leftist Latin
America regional alliance founded by Chavez, Gonzalez did not provide
details about whether the perfumes' names also had political connotations.
Celebrity endorsements are a vital part of the perfume and cologne
business, but scents inspired by political figures are rarer.
One example is that associated with ousted Philippines President Joseph
Estrada, a former movie action star and heart throb who was forced out
in a 2001 "people power" revolt. Estrada, now mayor of the Philippines
capital of Manila, was known for using a distinctively scented body
powder, and at one point during his presidency packages described as
Estrada's body powder were put on sale for his followers.
Guevara's image has long been appropriated for products as diverse as
clothing and automobiles, often running into objections from the
survivors of the Argentine-born revolutionary who helped Fidel and Raul
Castro's rebels overthrow Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
Chavez became the Castros' greatest ally since the breakup of the Soviet
Union, frequently visiting and supplying Cuba with millions of barrels
of discounted oil that provided vital support for the island's
Labiofam's director is a nephew of the Castros, and Valdes said the
families of Guevara and Chavez had been consulted and approved the use
of the names.
Cubans are enthusiastic consumers of perfumes and colognes. State
cosmetics company Suchel-Camacho produces "Alicia," a scent named for
Cuban National Ballet founder Alicia Alonso, which has been popular
among both tourists and Cuban women since the 1980s.
At the Labiofam convention, visitors' reactions to the revolutionary
scents were largely positive.
"I'd probably be more likely to buy 'Ernesto' because the scent is a
little more striking," said Reymundo Miranda, an expert in traditional
Valdes said the colognes had no intention of trivializing the two men's
"We didn't want to create propaganda, but rather pay homage to them and
help their names endure," he said.
Associated Press writers David Thurber in Bangkok and Michael
Weissenstein in Havana contributed to this report.
Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP
Source: 'Eau De Revolution': Cuba Scents Honor Che, Chavez - ABC News -