Monday 5 December 2016

Higgins's glowing tribute ignored reality of life in Cuba under Castro

Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30

Students light candles in honour of Fidel Castro at the Havana University in Havana, Cuba Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP
Students light candles in honour of Fidel Castro at the Havana University in Havana, Cuba Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP

'Cuba seems to have the same effect on American administrations that a full moon has on a werewolf."

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That was the view of Wayne Smith, a former US diplomat, who devoted much time and energy to improving US-Cuban relations. It is worth bearing in mind as we appraise the effusive tribute paid by President Michael D Higgins to the hero-cum-villain Fidel Castro, which has attracted a wave of criticism.

President Higgins correctly noted that the 90-year-old Castro had survived over 600 attempts on his life. Many were by émigré Cubans in cahoots with the CIA, and which brought the concept of bathos to new lows. My favourite was the exploding molluscs which were to booby trap the Cuban dictator, who was at that time a scuba-diving enthusiast.

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