Cuban delegation in Derry

Raymond McCartney pictured with the Cuban delegation which visited Derry this week led by Maria Aleida del Riego. (2404MM01)

Raymond McCartney pictured with the Cuban delegation which visited Derry this week led by Maria Aleida del Riego. (2404MM01)

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A Cuban delegation visited Derry this week to launch a new badge to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike.

The delegation was led Maria Aleida del Riego, co-ordinator of the Cuban Institute of Friendship of the Peoples.

She launched the badge at the H Block monument with Foyle Sinn Féin candidate and former hunger striker, Raymond McCartney, and Cathy Coney and Lisa Hegarty, nieces of hunger striker Mickey Devine.

The Cuban activist said Cubans are still interested in the hunger strikes. “I think Cuba is the only other country that has a monument to all those who died on hunger strike. Every year on May 5th we pay homage to Bobby Sands.

“In Cuba we think it is important to know the history of all those people who have been fighting like Cuba against oppression by a foreign country who tried to dominate them.

“There is a strong link between the history of the Irish people and Cubans and we teach it to our young people.

“In 1981 Fidel made an overwhelming speech in solidarity with Ireland following the death of Bobby Sands. Cuban children learn about the hunger strikers at school,” she said.

The Cuban activist also said people in her country appreciate the support of Irish people.

“I have met many people during my visit who have been involved in Cuban solidarity campaigns for many years.

“There is a lot of awareness here of Cuban affairs such as the campaign to have the Cuba 5, prisoners held in American jails, released.

“The relationship between Ireland and Cuba remains strong and I think that it will continue to grow in the future,” she said.

Mr McCartney said; “The people of Ireland have a long record of solidarity with Cuba. I am particularly proud over the past number of years the Derry Sinn Féin Cuban solidarity group- has welcomed representatives from Cuba, who have taught us so much about Cuban culture and politics.

“Despite the enormous problems faced by the Cuban people over the last five decades, Cuba has remained steadfast to the goals of eradicating poverty, ending privilege and corruption and of promoting social justice.”

The Cuban delegation will also travel to Dublin where the 50th anniversary of the Cuban victory over CIA backed forces during the Bay of Pigs invasion will be marked.

The badge will go on sale this weekend and will be available to purchase from members of the 81 committee, Tar Abhaile, 1 Westend Park, Sinn Féin Offices Ráth Mór, Racecourse Road.