Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has promised to give financial and political support to Cuba’s brutal Communist regime under a future Labour government.
The vow comes despite widespread accounts of arbitrary detention, beatings and political repression.
Standing in front of a Che Guevara flag, senior Left-winger Mr McDonnell said that Britain under Labour would be the repressive state’s ‘staunchest ally’.
His speech was greeted with rapturous applause from the 200-strong crowd before Mr McDonnell posed for pictures for one of Cuba’s tightly controlled newspapers as attendees chanted ‘Viva Cuba’ and ‘Viva socialismo’
In a speech last week to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, his promise to stand with Cuba in the face of sanctions by US President Donald Trump was in stark contrast to Mr McDonnell’s recent attempts to reassure the City that a future Labour government would not have a hidden radical agenda.
The news came on the same day that Mr Trump banned US cruise ships from calling at the island state, to ‘keep US dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services’, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Cuba is regularly criticised by human rights campaigners for its poor record, and the most recent report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) catalogued more than 2,000 incidents of arbitrary detentions between January and August 2018.
Founded after a revolution led by Fidel Castro (pictured above), Cuba has been a Marxist-Leninist one-party state since 1959 and Castro’s brother Raul took over as President in 2008 until last year
An HRW account said: ‘Detainees are often beaten, threatened and held incommunicado for hours or days. Police or state security agents routinely harass, rough up and detain members of the Ladies in White – a group founded by the wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners – before or after they attend Sunday mass.’
Amnesty International’s 2017/18 International Report added: ‘Arbitrary detentions, discriminatory dismissals from state jobs and harassment in self-employment continued to be used to silence criticism.
‘Advances in education were undermined by ongoing online and offline censorship. Cuba remained