Galway city has been warned a proposed statue of revolutionary Che Guevara will be a deep insult to many Americans by the influential head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
“Whether or not the city council of Galway, Ireland, constructs a much-discussed monument to Che Guevara, the possibility that it might occur ought to insult all of us who care about the cause of democracy and historical accuracy," Ros-Lehtinen wrote in NJ.com the online arm of the Star-Ledger newspaper, the largest publication in New Jersey.
Ros-Lehinten wrote that the upcoming Galway Arts Festival will be damaged by the proposed statue.
“Galway’s beautiful beaches and vibrant arts festival will be marred with a memorial to a man who wished to end their way of life and violently replace it with tyranny.”
Che, full name Ernesto Guevara Lynch, had Irish links. A festival in his honor was arranged for nearby County Clare earlier this year.
Che’s father, Ernest Guevara Lynch, said "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels," in a 1969 interview.
He went on: "Che inherited some of the features of our restless ancestors. There was something in his nature which drew him to distant wandering, dangerous adventures and new ideas."
Guevara's Irish links have been traced to Galway, and one Patricio Lynch, the founder of the Argentine branch of his family, was said to have been born in Galway in 1715. From there he spent some time in Spain before eventually settling in Argentina.
Galway City Council agreed to erect a statue in his honor but it has proven a highly controversial move.
American politicians, especially those of Cuban descent have strongly objected.
“The romanticized reputation of Ernesto “Che” Guevara as a liberator and freedom fighter is nothing more than a myth of the Cuban revolution. In reality, Guevara was a mass murderer and a bigot.” Ros-Lehtinen wrote.
“Che Guevara embodied hatred. Using his own words, he exulted 'hatred as an element of the struggle' to transform a person into a 'violent, selective and cold killing machine.'" Ros-Lehinten wrote.
“During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Guevara expressed support for unleashing nuclear war with the United States and was reportedly furious when the Soviet Union withdrew the offensive weapons later that autumn after the crisis was defused.”
The iconic image of Guevera worn by youth worldwide was created by Dublin artist Jim FitzPatrick.
"Celebrating Che Guevara glorifies oppressors and weakens democracies around the world. ... The democratically-elected council in Galway can ignore the objections of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but it cannot ignore the truth of history. The planned monument only spreads the myth of Guevara, and rewrites a disturbing history that must not be forgotten.” she concluded.