The Shadow Chancellor said the UK will be Cuba’s “staunchest ally” during a speech to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, in Clapham, south London, last week. Mr McDonnell also pledged his party’s support while standing in front of a Che Guevara flag on the same day US President imposed sanctions on the country, the Mail on Sunday has reported. Mr McDonnell addressed Cuba’s ambassador to London, Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, when he said: “When the election comes and I believe when a Labour government is elected, not if, we will be your staunchest allies to support the Cuban revolution.
“That means political support but it means also support, financial and on trade, to ensure that we prevent any attacks on Cuba that Trump may launch, economically or politically, or any other form.
“We stand with you comrades.”
Cuba has been a Marxist-Leninist one-party state since 1959 following the revolution.
Fidel Castro’s brother Raul became president in 2008 and stayed in power until last year.
In its most recent report, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) recorded more than 2,000 incidents of arbitrary detentions between January and August 2018.
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 mostly closed to independent human rights monitors.”
Mr Trump has since banned US cruise ships from visiting the state.
This is to “keep US dollars out of the Cuban military, intelligence and security services”, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Mr McDonnell gave his latest speech just a couple of weeks after he distanced himself from the Cuban regime, by saying “It was never socialism” during an interview with The Times.
Some MPs raised their concerns following his words in London
Conservative MP Andrew Lewer told Mail Online: “It is shocking that Mr McDonnell is promising British taxpayers’ support to the failed Cuban communist dictatorship, which locks up its political opponents and whose repressed people do not even have enough food to eat.”
Dr Julian Lewis MP, chairman of the Defence Select Committee said: “With John McDonnell, as with Jeremy Corbyn, what you see is what you will get.
“They have always held these pro-Marxist views and they always will.”