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We don't take our orders from US

Madam -- I read with some amusement John Drennan's item on US opposition to the erecting of a Che Guevara image at Galway's Salthill, which had originally been intended for Limerick. Why we should pay the least attention to American opinion on what we do with our artwork is beyond me. Do our artists and writers have anything to say about this?

Will the US object to an Irish collection of poems next? And one shouldn't have to remind Declan Ganley of the murderous role the United States has played in Latin America and that Cuba was effectively run by the mafia and American interests before Fidel Castro drove both of them out.

But US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Chairperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's opinion comes from a particularly interesting place.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba. A prominent member of the American-Cuba lobby, she is renowned for her conservative views on foreign policy and is a strong supporter of Israel. A strong supporter also of George W Bush's invasion of Iraq, she upholds the continuation of sanctions against Cuba. Of Iraq, she said: "Whether or not there is a direct link to the World Trade Centre does not mean that Iraq is not meritorious of shedding blood. The common link is that they hate America." She has also expressed a desire to make the notorious Patriot Act permanent.

She has called for the assassination of Fidel Castro, and defended convicted murderer and fugitive Velentin Hernandez, who killed Luciano Nieves, a Cuban exile who wished to open negotiations with the Cuban government. In the Eighties, this spokesperson against the Che artwork lobbied intensely for the release and pardon of convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch, another Cuban exile. And she calls Guevara a "ruthless killer"?

In September of last year she supported cutting off United States funding to any UN organisation that recognises Palestinian statehood.

Coincidentally, one of her major campaign contributors was Irving Moskowitz, a funder of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

This is, then, the individual attempting to pressure us over an artwork. As an Irishman I am not subject to US Right-wing diktats. Our writers and artists should tell her where to go. As should Enda Kenny. We are not -- yet -- an American colony!

Fred Johnston,

Circular Road, Galway

Sunday Independent