The designer of Colombia’s 1,000 peso bill has denied inserting an image of Cuban leader Fidel Castro into the drawing that adorns the currency, reported local media Tuesday.
Controversy arose Monday when the director of Colombia’s Central Bank said it was “possible” that the Cuban revolutionary was on the bill.
“I didn’t paint Castro, it’s just a man in the crowd,” bill designer Jose Antonio Suarez told newspaper El Tiempo.
“Over the years I’ve been told that I put many people on the bill — Angelina Jolie, the Pope, the Beatles and even my grandmother,” said Suarez.
Suarez won a contest in 2004 for the right to design the new bill, which has been in circulation since 2006.
The scene depicted on the note is that of the popular Liberal Party leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan addressing a captive crowd in 1948. Below the presidential candidate’s outstretched arm is a face resembling that of a young Fidel, who was in Bogota that year for a Latin American student conference. The future comandante even met Gaitan just days before his assassination on April 9, 1948, and participated in the “Bogotazo” riots that followed, which resulted in the death of nearly 5,000 people.
Colombians won’t be able to enjoy Castro’s doppelganger for long, as the government plans to issue a new 1,000 peso coin in October.