Belfast Telegraph

I backed Castro's IRA stance: Cuban ambassador to Republic

By Cate McCurry

The Cuban ambassador to the Republic of Ireland has revealed that he backed Fidel Castro's support of the IRA.

In an interview with Hot Press, Hermes Herrera Hernandez said he always supported Cuba's former president in his views on republican violence.

In the wide-raging interview, Hermes Herrera Hernandez - who was once the Cuban ambassador to the Vatican - also criticised Donald Trump's controversial plan to build a wall at the Mexican border.

The ambassador - who personally knew Fidel Castro and Che Guevara - was questioned over Castro's support of the IRA.

The former leader, who died in November last year aged 90, met with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in 1981 and spoke in support of the republican hunger strikers.

During a speech, Castro described the hunger strike as the "most moving gesture of sacrifice, selflessness and courage".

"They have earned the respect and admiration of the world, and likewise they deserve its support," he said.

Hermes Herrera Hernandez said he supported his comments at that time.

"I always have been supporting Castro in everything he did - and I also supported him on that occasion," he said.

"I cannot say more than that, because I don't like to give a personal approach to those things.

"But I supported him at that time. I, too, identified with the sacrifice of the population.

"He was not talking about the policy in general of the movement or something like that - he was talking about a humanitarian problem - and I think he was right."

The Cuban ambassador criticises US President Donald Trump in the interview and his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border with America.

While cautious in expressing hostile views of the controversial president, he hit out at the idea of the return of waterboarding to interrogate suspects.

Speaking about President Trump's plans to build the wall, he said: "We are not in favour of walls. We are in favour of integration.

"We think the best way is to try to collaborate, to try to understand each other, to try to develop good neighbourly relations - from everybody towards everybody."

Hermes Herrera Hernandez also described Che Guevara as his "big hero".

"I appreciate very much the participation of Che Guevara in the Cuban revolution," he said.

"I appreciate him as a Cuban patriot, despite that he was born in Rosario, Argentina.

"I appreciate everything - his moral character, his decisions, his capacity, ethically and how brave he was in many things."

The full interview appears in Hot Press from today.

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