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HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba has aborted plans to develop fragrances in honor of the late revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling the project disrespectful of two "sacred" revolutionary symbols.
The executive committee of the Council of Ministers, one of the highest bodies within the communist government, said in a statement on Saturday that those responsible for promoting the fragrances would be disciplined for their "grave mistake".
"These types of initiatives will never be accepted by our people nor by the revolutionary government. The symbols - of yesterday, today and forever – are sacred," the statement said.
The state pharmaceutical and chemical company Labiofam announced plans to develop fragrances called "Ernesto" and "Hugo" this week during a four-day company meeting. Labeled perfumes, the fragrances were to be marketed as men’s cologne.
Labiofam surveyed more than 100 people at the meeting, testing out the fragrances that were still in development, Mario Valdes, Labiofam's director of research and development, told Reuters on Thursday. They were planned for commercial launch in the first quarter of next year, he said.
Valdes had been promoting the products, calling them a homage to Guevara and Chavez.
"They are people who deserve total respect and honor," Valdes said.
The government statement did not say if Valdes was one of those disciplined. His phone went unanswered on Saturday.
The families of Guevara and Chavez never approved the use of their late relatives' names for the fragrances, which were never registered nor produced commercially, the statement said.
Guevara, an Argentine national, joined Fidel Castro's band of rebels in helping overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He became the Cuban revolution's greatest martyr when he was killed in Bolivia in 1967 while aiding guerrillas there.
Chavez was Cuba's most important ally and benefactor when he died in 2013.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by David Adams and Stephen; Powell