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“We’ll keep Ché flag flying!” says Hyde business
Thursday 3rd January 2019 @ 15:55 by Tom Greggan
Business Hyde News Tameside

Publican Geoff Oliver says he will keep a Cuban flag emblazoned with the image of revolutionary Ché Guevara ‘flying’ at his Hyde establishment.

His stand comes after Geoff says he was visited by a local licensing officer who informed him a complaint had been made about the flag, on display in a window above The Sportsman Pub.

According to Geoff, the officer told him that if the flag wasn’t removed from public view, a report of a crime could be filed against him under ‘new crime recording guidelines’ and the police would then have to investigate.

He was however free to display the flag inside the business.

Geoff and his Cuban wife Maria have run The Sportsman and Cuban Tapas restaurant – the Cuba Libre – situated above the pub for some five years.

They have given the Cuban flag carrying the image of Ché pride of place in a front upstairs window at the Mottram Road-based business where it has been on show for some time.

The couple say the flag has been displayed intermittently since their time at the establishment, but they have never received any complaints before.

They also ran a similar business in Mottram before moving to The Sportsman.

But now Geoff says he fears the couple could end up with criminal records if they do not remove the flag from public view – branding the threat ‘bureaucracy gone mad’.

“Many customers turn up for meals at our restaurant wearing Ché Guevara’s iconic image on their t-shirts,” said Geoff.

“There must be hundreds of thousands of t-shirts, clothing and other memorabilia in this country with such images on, worn and used by English holidaymakers after returning from Cuba; they are even seen in UK shops and sold here in the UK.

“Therefore, according to the interpretation of these new ‘crime recording guidelines’ – if someone is walking along the pavement in such a t-shirt and a passer-by feels offended by the Ché Guevara image enough to complain to a nearby police officer, then the police are going to have to investigate it, then submit a report of a crime!

“Have these new ‘crime recording guidelines’ been thought out properly? Are they going to create a new ‘criminal class?’ Is it bureaucracy gone mad?”

Geoff added that the flag and portrait of Ché help to draw in customers and are echoed in the restaurant by many similar iconic pictures which give the restaurant its warm Cuban atmosphere and attract faithful customers from far and wide – and therefore he had no intention of removing it.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said a complaint had been received about the flag by the licensing authority – and a licensing officer had therefore made the owners aware of the complaint.

However, no complaint had yet been made to GMP they said.

“If a complaint was made to the police, it would be recorded and assessed and an investigation would follow if it was deemed necessary,” said the spokesperson.

Ché Guevara was a key player in Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution and held various senior roles in the post revolution government.

He left Cuba in 1965 to spearhead further revolutions in South America, but was captured by the CIA in Bolivia and executed in 1967.

His image has found pop culture immortality in the name of anti-capitalism.