Allies defend Corbyn over comments about Castro’s ‘heroism’

Jeremy Corbyn said 'Castro was a champion of social justice'. Picture: PA
Jeremy Corbyn said 'Castro was a champion of social justice'. Picture: PA
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Jeremy Corbyn’s allies have defended him after criticism of comments in which he praised Fidel Castro’s “heroism”.

The Labour leader said that “for all his flaws” the former Cuban president had been a “champion of social justice”. Mr Corbyn was accused of glossing over of human rights abuses and political repression.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “I think that Castro was a hugely divisive figure and I think that it’s quite difficult to get beyond the human rights abuses.

“I went to Cuba in the early 1990s when there was great economic difficulties in that country and I found a country that was egalitarian with a fantastic health service.It came at a price but it was, in my view, a brave island that stood against a regime that for 50 years would not trade with it and would not let other countries trade with it too.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the Sky News Murnaghan programme that Cuba was a “beacon of hope”.

He said: “This was a country that was controlled by effectively a kleptocrat where there was extremes of wealth and poverty, no education, no health service.

“The revolution took place and it redistributed wealth and the land, it introduced an education service and a health service which was second to none.”