Top Government Figures Stay Away From Fidel Castro Service

Top Government Figures Stay Away From Fidel Castro Service

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan is representing Britain at the memorial service of Fidel Castro after more senior government figures decided to stay away.

It was announced on Monday that neither Prime Minister Theresa May nor Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would be attending Tuesday's commemoration in Havana for Cuba's former revolutionary leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has also chosen not to go, sending shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry to represent Labour instead.

The Labour leader was widely criticised for saying that "for all his flaws", Castro would be remembered as a "champion of social justice".

His comments sparked an outcry over the Castro regime's human rights abuses and lack of democratic accountability.

Asked about Mrs May's views on Castro, the PM's official spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister shares the view set out by the Foreign Secretary this weekend that he was marked out as a historic, if controversial, figure and we now want to look to the future, how we can work with the government of Cuba on a wide range of priorities, including human rights."

Following the former president's death at 90 on Friday, it was announced that his remains would rest in Havana's Jose Marti Memorial until Tuesday, when a mass gathering takes place in the Plaza de la Revolucion.

The casket containing his ashes will then be transported around the country on a four-day, 900km journey from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, retracing in reverse the route of his rebel army advancing on the capital in 1959.

On December 4, he will be laid to rest at the cemetery of Santa Ifigenia in Santiago de Cuba, alongside 19th-century national hero Jose Marti.


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