Cllr questions politics behind Guevara opposition
Labour Councillor Billy Cameron has asked if fellow Galway City Councillors thought they were voting for “an egg and spoon race” when they unanimously voted to honour Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, and called for Cuban-Americans to “butt out” of Irish affairs.
Galway City Mayor Hildegarde Naughton and Fianna Fáil Cllr Ollie Crowe last week stated that they did not know a monument would be part of the motion to honour the Argentine revolutionary, who helped bring Fidel Castro to power in Cuba in the 1950s.
The councillors’ statements came following a letter from US Republican Congresswoman, Ms Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, asking him to intervene and stop the monument going ahead.
However, Cllr Cameron, who originally proposed the motion, this week questioned what the councillors thought they were supporting.
“What did they think we were going to have - an egg and spoon race for Che Guevara? There’s a lot of politics involved,” said Cllr Cameron.
Cllr Naughton last week said that she had spoken to council officials, calling for the matter to be brought back before Galway City Council.
“The fact is that there was no reference to a monument in the wording of the motion that was passed unanimously,” said Cllr Naughton.
“I have spoken to officials in the city council expressing my concern about the matter. It is imperative that the matter comes back before elected representatives and I think that is the forum for it to be dealt with,” she added.
According to Galway City Council’s minutes from its meeting of Monday, 16 May 2011, the motion proposed: ‘That Galway City Council commit itself to honouring one of its own, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, descendant of two of our Tribes, the Lynch family of Lydican House, and the Blakes. The project to be furthered by liaising with the Argentinean and Cuban Embassies’.
Asked whether he would support a different way of honouring Guevara’s Galway links, Cllr Crowe said he would have to see what proposals came before the council before making a decision on anything else, but that he “certainly wouldn’t support a monument”.
Cllr Naughton, too, would not be drawn on whether she would support another way of honouring Guevara’s Galway links.
Cllr Cameron also rejected the right of Cuban-Americans such as Yale Professor Carlos Eire, and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, to become involved in Irish affairs.
“I won’t be taking lectures from Cuban-Americans, who have their own agenda. I’m looking for a balanced debate. You won’t get balance from Cuban-Americans, or the Cuban-American lobby,” said Cllr Cameron.
“We live in an independent country. We fought long and hard for our independence, we’re not under the jurisdiction of the United States, and they should just butt out of Irish affairs, the Cuban-Americans,” he added.
Cllr Cameron said that if people wanted to educate themselves on Che Guevara, they should read the work of historians such as Manuel Barcia, of the University of Leeds.
“He’s a Cuban, he’s a historian, and he deals with the history. Balanced,” said Cllr Cameron.