The Galway councillor who proposed building a statue to Che Guevara in the Irish city has accused American opponents of interfering in Irish affairs.
Billy Cameron has insisted that the West of Ireland is quite entitled to celebrate Guevara’s Irish heritage.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the powerful head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has written to the Irish Prime Minister asking that the statue be stopped.
Ros-Lehtinen called the proposal ‘an outrage’ in a statement to the Huffington Post.
She said: “Despite the image makeover which some try to give him, the real Che Guevara was a mass murderer and human rights abuser.
“To honor him with a monument would be an outrage, and would be a futile attempt to hide the brutal acts which he committed.
Responding to the growing criticism in America, Galway City Councillor Cameron stated: “Everybody who has spoken out on this issue is within their rights to voice their objections.
“But the project was given the full and unanimous support of the council. I honestly think this has been blown out of all proportion.
“The project commemorates Guevara’s Irish ancestry. The Galway connection was established some years ago.
“He’s related to two of the Galway tribes, the Lynches and the Blakes. We want to celebrate somebody from our historic past.”
Cameron made his remarks as a second American politician went to war with the Galway City Council over their plans to erect a statue to Guevara in the city.
Florida based Representative Mario Diaz-Balart has joined the Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in slamming the plans.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has led the charge against plans by the Council to honor Guevara’s ancestral links with the West of Ireland.
She said: “Instead of honoring a killer, the City Council of Galway should honor the victims of Che and the Castro dictatorship by rejecting this proposal.”
“The romanticizing image that this monument would portray would serve to diminish the brutality that was committed by Che and the painful suffering endured by many Cuban-American families and his other victims far and wide. Che Guevara was a ruthless killer who should not be idealized.”
Florida Rep. Diaz-Balart has also blasted the council’s proposal.
“Galway is a city where people have the right to vote, the right to worship freely, the right to speak freely, and access a free press– all of which Che Guevara and his murderous associate, dictator Fidel Castro, ruthlessly suppressed,” he said.
“Having a memorial to this cruel assassin is a shameful affront to the thousands of Cubans he murdered and utterly ignores the truth of who Che Guevara actually was.
“A memorial to this despicable individual is a shameful slap in the face to the victims, whose lives he so ruthlessly extinguished, their families, and the millions of Cubans who still suffer under the effects of his deplorable acts.
“I am confident that if the people of Galway know the well-documented horrors inflicted by Che Guevara, they will be disgusted by the prospect of erecting a monument to that monster.”