CHE AND GRAY AT THE BAG OF PIGS
The failed invasion of Cuba in 1961 commonly as the ‘Bay of Pigs’ has never really been given the historical attention it deserves, possibly because it was such a convoluted and messy affair. Lined up against Castro’s administration were an unlikely alliance of Cuban criminals, US mob leaders and their hit men, renegade CIA officers and the nervy young leaders and officials of the Kennedy administration.
Cuba of the 1950s was a kind of gangster’s paradise, run as an offshore branch of the American mafia. Under Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, Cuba was a playground for the world’s wealthy, where the Mafia ran casinos, brothels and drugs. Havana was the main transshipment point for the Mafia’s transatlantic heroin trade into the USA: opium from Turkey came through Lebanon into the mob laboratories in Sicily and Marseilles where it was turned into heroin and smuggled into the USA through Cuba. US businesses controlled the island’s sugar and mineral industries. Most of this changed in 1959 when Fidel Castro’s forces overthrew Batista’s regime. The mafia lost their casinos and their lucrative smuggling base, and US businesses saw their Cuban organisations nationalised. Although at first it wasn’t clear what way Castro would swing, he soon aligned himself with the Soviet Union, to the alarm of the United States government. The CIA, US corporations and the Mafia pushed for a quick invasion, only to be slowed by the 1960 US election.
Once in power, the Kennedy government vacillated, wary of a plan that had been cooked up under the Eisenhower’s administration. When the plan was finally approved in early April of 1961, the stage was set for an encounter with the Cubans on one side, and the Mafia, the CIA and anti- Castro Cubans on the other side. In one of history’s stranger coincidences, the military leaders of both sides were Lynches. One was a devoted anti-communist, while the other spent his life fighting capitalism and imperialism.
On the US side was the CIA paramilitary commander Grayston L Lynch, who led the seaborne invasion force of Cuban exiles into the Bay of Pigs. On the other side was Che Guevara, son of Ernesto Guevara Lynch, who raced with his troops to take on the invaders. It was a farcical and tragic encounter. The Bay of Pigs was a terrible landing spot. The landing force was held up first by coral reefs, before encountering stiff resistance from a local militia and was then picked off by the Cuban air force. Fooled by a CIA decoy, Che Guevara’s forces arrived at a spot 350 kms to the west of the Bay of Pigs and completely missed the three day battle. Most of the Cuban invaders were killed or captured but Grayston Lynch escaped and returned to the USA, while Guevara showed up after the battle to claim victory. The legacy of the failed invasion set off a chain of events that included the Cuban Missile crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, and the 1968 killing of Che Guevara in a Bolivian jungle.
So who were these two remarkable Lynches, and what fate drove them to become such implacable enemies? Grayston Lynch was born in Texas in 1923, the son of a farmer and oil driller though he could trace his family and his military heritage back to 18th century Ireland. Lynch’s ancestor George Lynch was born in Ireland, possibly in Ulster, in 1748, and married a Scottish woman called Margaret McCorkle before emigrating to York, Pennsylvania in 1770. Their grandson Enoch grew up in Virginia and moved south to Texas with several of his siblings. A Baptist preacher, Enoch settled in Hunt County in north-central Texas where his son James and grandson Henry Thomas were born. When the oil boom came to Texas, Henry T. Lynch supplemented his work as a ranch hand with some freelance work as an oil driller. Henry’s third child Grayston was born in Gilmer, Texas in June 1923. By his teenage years, Grayston Lynch was already tall and strong, and he enlisted in the Army in 1938 at the age of fifteen. He fought in the second world war, serving as a platoon sergeant, and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Badly injured in the fighting, he spent five years recovering in hospital. After his release from hospital he earned a degree in political science at the University of Maryland in 1953, and then served in the Korean War before rising to the role of captain with the 77th Special Forces Group in Laos. (In the movie The A-Team, several of the CIA agents use the name Lynch and in the television series, the character of Colonel Lynch was apparently based on Grayston Lynch).
According to his biography, Lynch was on the point of retirement from the army in 1960 when a connection in the CIA persuaded him to join the agency as a case officer. Lynch agreed. The emergence of Fidel Castro as Cuban leader following the overthrow of Batista in 1959 was causing alarm in Washington, and the CIA had been tasked with an invasion of the country once the 1960 election between Kennedy and Nixon was out of the way. Lynch was put in charge of the invasion, an enormous task for a new officer, which suggests that Lynch had already been involved with the CIA before his official recruitment. As the CIA waited for Eisenhower’s Vice-President Richard Nixon to take his place in the White House, Grayston Lynch and his team co-leader William ‘Rip’ Robertson began assembling a force of Cuban exiles who had been pouring out of Cuba into Miami, raging at the changes sweeping across the island under Fidel Castro and Castro’s second-in-command Ernesto Guevara. Grayston Lynch studied the make up of the Cuban Army, but it’s unlikely that he realised that its commander Che Guevara was also a Lynch.
In fact, Che Guevara himself took no particular pride in his Irish origins, although his precise genealogy was a source of agitation to his supporters and detractors. Was Che Guevara one of the Gaelic Lynches with a revolutionary anti-imperialist tradition? Or did he belong to the solid merchant class of Anglo-Irish origin? The Irish forebears of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara were the Lynches of Lydican Castle, on the outskirts of Galway town. Since the early Middle Ages, Lydican Castle had been home to the O’Heyne chieftains, who were dispossessed of their lands and castle in the late 17th century when the castle and 1,000 acre estate came into the hands of the Lynch family, in the person of Captain Patrick Lynch. As Patrick Lynch was married to Agnes Blake, it’s clear that he was one of the ‘tribe’ families. It’s not clear how the family came into possession of the castle, but suffice to say that they were unlikely to have paid full market value. They took out a large mortgage on the land in 1720, and in later years they relinquished control of the castle as most of their family had emigrated. The Captain’s second son, also Patrick, emigrated from Ireland to Spain in the 1740s, and from there he travelled on to Argentina, probably with some family money to help establish himself in South America. In Buenos Aires, Patrick Lynch established himself in Argentinian society, marrying a wealthy heiress called Rosa de Galayn y de la Camara. The family accumulated land while keeping close to their maritime roots and Patrick’s grandson Patricio established a shipping company which traded with the United States.
The family grew steadily in wealth and influence. Patricio’s sons Ventura Lynch inherited a large ranch in the Río de Plata region where Ventura’s son Benito and grandson Benito (1882–1951) were raised. The family moved into the town of La Plata, where the older Benito was director of the newspaper El Dia. His son Benito owned shares in and contributed to the same newspaper along with writing short stories and novels. Benito Lynch’s novels dealt with the conflict between country labourers and farmhands and the newly arriving European immigrants, and he was admired for his ability to realistically portray the language of the countryside. (In fact, Benito Lynch even earned the attention of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, which maintained that Lynch created an “authentic and realistic portrayal of the development of capitalist relations in the Argentinian countryside.”) Although his novels were turned into plays and films, Lynch failed to appear at any premieres. He avoided both the social life of the city and declined literary awards and academic honours. Lynch was a member of the Conservative Party, a distinction he shared with his contemporary Leopoldo Lynch, another journalist and historian whose Irish roots may not have been as aristocratic.
Despite Benito Lynch’s fame, it was another of Patricio Lynch’s descendants who would gain the most renown. Patricio’s youngest son Francisco was one of Argentina’s largest landowners and a Colonel in the army. In the late 1840s, when he dared to oppose the Argentinian dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, he lost his livelihood and his property, and with his son and namesake Francisco he fled to Chile, and then on to California, along with his neighbours, a family of Basque descent called Guevara. They became gold prospectors, but after a unsuccessful stint prospecting, Lynch decided that a steadier income could be made selling tools to miners and running a saloon. Lynch married in California and remained in California until the 1870s, when he returned to Argentina with his wife and his daughter Ana. The Guevara brothers also returned, and the families later celebrated their reunion when Robert Guevara courted and then married Lynch’s daughter Ana. The sixth of their eleven children, Ernesto Guevara Lynch was born at the turn of the twentieth century.
As Che Guevara’s biographer Daniel James notes, Ernesto did not have the adventuring spirit of his forebears, but he married a woman of aristocratic heritage and rebellious spirit. Her name was Celia de la Serna. Bored by city life, the young couple tried their hand at maté farming, and then went into the milling business, settling in the town of Rosaria. It was their that Celia gave birth to her firstborn. Under Spanish and Latin American naming customs, a child may take two surnames, consisting of their father’s first surname and their mother’s second surname, so although Guevara’s father was a Lynch, the boy was known as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.
By the time Che Guevara was born, the family no longer possessed great riches, but they were far from rebels. In an interview with Iosif Lavretsky, Guevara’s father Ernesto Guevara Lynch maintained that Che’s radicalism was a genetic affair. He maintained that Che had inherited the restless nature of his Irish ancestors, who had fled Ireland in the 1700s because of their opposition to English dominance. The blood of Irish rebels flowed in Che’s veins, said the elder Lynch, and it was this rebel blood that drew Che to dangerous adventures and new ideas.
Daniel James, however, writes that the young Ernesto was “essentially his mother’s creation,” crediting Celia de la Serna for her son’s intellectual development and his left-wing ideals. The young Che studied as a doctor, and was radicalised during his travels through South and Central America in the 1950s, becoming involved in Guatemala’s socialist government and witnessing the CIA-sponsored coup in 1954. The overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala convinced Guevara of the necessity for armed struggle and when he met up with an exiled Fidel and Raúl Castro in Mexico the following year, he joined the Cuban insurgency. The Cubans gave him the nickname ‘Che’, from his habit of addressing them as ‘che’, which roughly translates as pal or mate. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna became known simply as Che Guevara. The insurgents overthrew the Batista regime in 1959 and installed Castro as the leader of Cuba, with Guevara in charge of training the army and in control of the Cuban forces in the west of the island. Castro and Guevara were sure that the United States would try to overthrow the new regime, just as they had done in Guatemala five years earlier.
The overthrow of Batista was not entirely unpopular in the USA, at least initially, and the Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy was pleased to see Batista gone. Castro began nationalising assets and in the febrile Cold War atmosphere the US government under Dwight Eisenhower started to plan a counteroffensive against his regime.
Eisenhower’s vice-president Richard Nixon was confident of victory in the 1960 election, and the Republican leadership planned to launch the attack after the election, only to be wrong footed by the electorate and John F. Kennedy.
When Kennedy took office in January 1961, the CIA impressed on him the urgency of implementing the Cuban plan. The Kennedy brothers were fascinated by intelligence operations and were great admirers of Ian Fleming and his fictional agent James Bond. According to some accounts, on taking office, John F. Kennedy asked to speak to the CIA’s version of James Bond and was disappointed when the CIA brought in their top assassin, a man called William Harvey who bore no resemblance to the dapper fictional British spy. The CIA impressed on Kennedy the need for speedy action before the Russians could start reinforcing Castro’s army, and Kennedy agreed to a plan that involved mostly Cuban exiles, led by Grayston Lynch and William Robertson, a veteran CIA officer who had helped to overthrow the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954. The stage was set for Grayston Lynch and Che Guevara to do battle.
Since April 1960, Lynch and Robertson had been in Miami training the disaffected Cubans who had been leaving the island since the overthrow of Batista in 1959, complaining that Castro’s promise of a democratic country had turned sour. Lynch and Robertson’s outfit was known as the ‘2506 Brigade’, and the two men were officially to serve as troubleshooters on the mission, though in reality they were in charge of both planning and execution. Most of those recruited to run the operation were Cubans, with the CIA conscious of being able to deny responsibility should anything go wrong. The plan revolved around a simple deception: the CIA would provide US planes painted over with the Cuban flag, and these planes would take out the Cuban air force, while giving the impression of an internal revolt. Meanwhile, the Cuban exiles would land a small army on the Cuban coast by boat. Once in Cuba, the rebel force would rouse what the CIA believed was a powerful anti-Castro sentiment, building a significant force that would overwhelm the Cuban army.
The CIA had encountered successes in its coup planning in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954 and Indonesia in 1958, though the coups had not been entirely smooth operations. The CIA-led covert action against Guatemala involved radio propaganda and leaflet drops to convince the population that the coup was being led from inside the army, but when the Guatemalan army defeated the rebel forces in skirmishes, the CIA turned to the US military for reinforcements. A series of air strikes broke the army’s resolve, and led to the resignation of Arbenz. Inside the agency, there was confidence that once a covert action was underway in Cuba, the US government would jump in and provide military support rather than countenance defeat. As it turned out, the CIA had gravely overstated the popular appetite for counterrevolution in Cuba, while the White House had gravely overestimated the CIA’s chances of success.
The problems began before a single boat was launched. Leaks started to come from the ranks of the hundreds of exiles getting ready to invade Cuba, as word spread around the Cuban community of imminent action against Castro. Word filtered back to Castro, and in national and Miami newspapers, journalists speculated about military action, forcing Kennedy to deny that any invasion was planned. The leaks unnerved the State Department which immediately began to water down the intensity of the operation, ordering that fewer planes be used to cover the Bay of Pigs assault.
On April 15, Lynch and Robertson’s invasion force set out from their Nicaraguan base towards Cuba while a smaller than planned squad of B-26 bombers wearing the flag of the Cuba air force left from Nicaragua and attacked three Cuban airfields, taking out a few of the planes on the ground but leaving several intact. After taking fire from the Cubans, one of the disguised B-26s limped back to Miami airport, where the pilots claimed to be defectors. The Cuban ambassador pointed out that the plane was not a Cuban air force plane. On April 16, with Cuba on high alert, Kennedy cancelled further air attacks, in an attempt to retain plausible deniability of US involvement.
Lynch, Robertson and the 1,447 Cubans were already at the Cuban coast, and confusion reigned as they waited for the expected air attacks. Certain that the government would back the military to weigh in once fighting was underway, the boats landed as planned in the pre-dawn darkness of April 17. Lynch made the decision to join the first men landing on the beach, and later admitted that he had fired the first shots when a militia patrol came down to the beach to investigate the lights offshore. It was a reckless move for a CIA man who was supposed to melt into the background of the operation.
The CIA men were sure that Castro was likely to get wind of the operation, and had sent a decoy force towards Pinar Del Rio, 350 miles to the north of the Bay of Pigs and Guevara and his troops raced towards Pinar Del Rio only to discover that they had been tricked. When Castro realised that the force was coming ashore at the Bay of Pigs, he sent the remaining troops into action. Without air cover, Lynch’s forces were at the mercy of Castro’s remaining air force planes. Three days after their arrival on the beachhead, the battle ended in a humiliating defeat for the invaders, with most of the exiled Cubans killed in the fighting or taken prisoner by the Cuban army.
By the time Guevara arrived at the Bay of Pigs, the fighting had finished, leaving Guevara to take control of the prisoners and claim a great victory. Lynch and Robertson escaped back to Washington, where according to Lynch, they discovered that the President himself had cancelled the air raids that would have given cover to their invasion:
“This may have been a politically proper way to fight a war, according to the rules laid down by the ‘armchair generals’ of Camelot,” Lynch wrote, “but we called it murder.” Lynch raged that Kennedy had failed to stand up to his own State Department, and had pliantly approved request after request from the State Department to water down the invasion plan. Lynch and Robertson were called before a committee at the Pentagon that included Robert Kennedy. According to Lynch’s account of the investigation, Kennedy was determined to show that the invasion would have failed even without the withdrawal of the air cover. Lynch left the hearings incensed and on May 1, he watched the May Day parade in Cuba with dismay, as newly supplied Russian MiG jets flew over Havana.
For the first time in his life, he wrote, he was ashamed of his country. Che Guevara’s star rose further on the back of the Cuban victory, and the Cubans trumpeted their ability to defeat the Western superpower. Che Guevara taunted Kennedy, sending him a note that read: “Thanks for Playa Girón. Before the invasion, the revolution was weak. Now it’s stronger than ever.”
In the US, mainstream media questioned the CIA plan, and reports would appear in the New York Times in 1964 that Kennedy had told an administration aide at the time that he planned to break up the agency into “a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind.” In November 1961, Kennedy began the clear out of those he considered most dangerous, getting rid of Allan Dulles, the powerful head of the agency. Yet the agency soon eased its way back into the favour of the White House and re-doubled its efforts to overthrow Castro. In late 1961, the CIA established a centre in Miami codenamed JM/WAVE, with the task of killing Castro and overthrowing his regime. Lynch and Robertson were assigned to the Cuban Task Force at JM/WAVE where the assassination group, comprised of government assassins and their underworld counterparts, was named ZR/RIFLE. Robert Kennedy installed the spies William Harvey and Edward Lansdale at the head of the operation. Robert Kennedy took a keen interest in the project, showing up unannounced and on occasion trying to direct operations himself.
Russia continued to upgrade the Cuban military, and tensions continued to escalate, resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. When the crisis had been resolved, Kennedy moved to change his approach to Cuba and removed Harvey from charge of the assassination team. Kennedy’s new appointment Desmond Fitzgerald favoured a more modern approach to the no less unsavoury business of the killing of Castro. The CIA team had not forgotten the perceived betrayal of the Bay of Pigs. “It should be intuitively obvious,” wrote Robert Kirkconnell in American Heart of Darkness, “that a program to murder other heads of state, and especially ones that are staffed by organised crime members, ex-Nazis, CIA psychopaths and other murderers could be co-opted to blow your head off.” The ZR/RIFLE group was manned by several CIA assassins who were deeply hostile to the Kennedy White House, including David Morales and Félix Rodríguez, and mob assassins such as Johnny Roselli.
Bradley Ayers, who was seconded from the army to the CIA to work as a paramilitary trainer for JM/WAVE from May 1963 to December 1964, claimed that a group of nine trainers at JM/WAVE including Grayston Lynch had “intimate knowledge” of the JFK assassination. In the world of spooks and disinformation, it’s difficult to take anything at face value but the name of Grayston Lynch appeared often enough in the literature about the Kennedy assassination that later in his life, Lynch was forced to deny that he had anything to do with it, though he did concede that the men he worked with hated Kennedy enough to kill him.
John F. Kennedy was murdered in November 1963, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson replaced him in the Oval Office. Johnson, who was re-elected in 1964 and served until 1968, maintained that the Cubans had assassinated Kennedy in revenge for the attempted murder of Castro. With John F. Kennedy out of the picture, the JM/WAVE station continued its mission with the CIA training Cuban exiles in guerrilla warfare and assassination. JM/WAVE became the biggest employer in the Miami area in the mid-1960s, with up to 15,000 Cubans on its payroll. Grayston Lynch ran his own commando group, and by his own admission, ran hundreds of operations against Cuba during the 1960s. These efforts included attempts to plant exploding seashells in Castro’s favoured diving spots but Castro somehow survived all efforts to kill him. The station was more successful with its other big target, Che Guevara.
Philip Agee, a former CIA officer, wrote that Guevara was the person most featured by the CIA because he possessed the charisma necessary to direct the struggle against the traditional hierarchies that held power in the countries of South America. Like Castro, Guevara proved to be unreachable in Cuba, but once he departed the island, he became an easier target. In one apparent attempt at assassinating Castro, Guillermo Novo fired a bazooka from across the east river at the United Nations during Guevara’s address to the UN in 1964, but the shell landed in the water.
In 1965, Che Guevara left Cuba for Africa before travelling to Europe. During a visit from Prague to Cuba, Guevara stopped over in Ireland, at Shannon airport, and spent a day in Limerick city, where he was interviewed by an Irish reporter, Arthur Quinlan, who carved out a niche for himself interviewing various politicians and celebrities who passed through Shannon. Quinlan was alerted to Guevara’s arrival by American journalist Bob Loughlin, who according to Quinlan had a “small PR business at the Shannon Development Company.” (Quinlan later came to suspect that Loughlin worked for the CIA.) Quinlan knew of Guevara’s Lynch ancestry, and though he was told that Guevara spoke no English, he challenged Guevara thus: “Anybody whose maternal grandparents were Lynches either speaks Gaelic or English. Which is it to be?” After visiting Limerick, Guevara met with Bernie Brennan, an Irish-American journalist. “Mr. Brennan had spent much time in Cuba and it was generally believed that he was something of a ‘double-agent’ who had served the American CIA,” wrote Quinlan.
Guevara was not overly impressed to be in the land of his forebears. He wrote to his father about his Irish visit: “I am in this green Ireland of your ancestors [italics added]. When they found out, the television came to ask me about the Lynch genealogy, but in case they were horse thieves or something like that, I didn’t say much.” (Guevara had been interviewed for Irish television in November 1964 during a brief stopover in Dublin airport, so it’s not clear which visit he was referring to.)
In 1966, Guevara arrived in Bolivia, having decided that South America was the next revolutionary front. Félix Rodríguez, working for JM/WAVE, was tasked with tracking down Che Guevara and in 1967, the CIA man finally caught up with Che Guevara in the jungle of Bolivia. Rodríguez would later say that he wanted to take Guevara alive, and bring him to Panama for questioning, but the Bolivian President René Barrientos had ordered the execution of the Argentinian revolutionary. Rodríguez oversaw the killing, and took Guevara’s watch, which he kept as a memento.
The killing of Guevara turned him into a figurehead for a generation of young people and students across the world. In 1968, the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick produced a monochrome drawing of Guevara based on a famous photograph by Alberto Korda, and released it as a copyright-free image. Within weeks, the image was appearing at rallies and protests around the world; not long afterwards, it was appearing on t-shirts. The image is nearly as ubiquitous as the logo of Nike or McDonalds — and indeed, I’ve seen people wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt while wearing Nikes and eating in McDonalds. Grayston Lynch left the CIA in 1971 and joined the newly formed Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Key West, though it’s not entirely clear whether the DEA was preventing the flow of drugs or taking part.
The end of the JM/WAVE programme had put thousands of Cuban exiles out of work and many of them turned their hand to narcotics smuggling. Cocaine began flooding through the Caribbean island en route to the United States during the 1970s and Miami continued to feature as the headquarters of drug-smuggling through the Iran-Contra era, which also featured many of the main players from JM/WAVE.
Through the rest of his working life and into his retirement, Lynch maintained a deep hatred of the Kennedys. He was a source for veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s 1997 book The Dark Side of Camelot, which somewhat deflated the Kennedy myth. In the book, Hersh noted that the Kennedys were willing to order the assassination of a sovereign head of state. The year after Hersh’s book came out, Lynch published his own account of the Bay of Pigs, called Decision for Disaster: Betrayal at the Bay of Pigs. The betrayal in the subtitle referred to the Kennedys. Much of the information, Lynch wrote, was no longer classified, and he stated that the principal reason for doing the book was to put the record straight. He claimed that the true story of the invasion had never been told, and offered his own on-the-ground insights into the failure of the operation.
Following the failed invasion, Lynch wrote, he had been involved in the effort to oust Castro, and had waited for someone to step forward and erase the misconceptions that had obscured what he considered to be the facts. Judging that this had not happened, and realising that he was the last remaining American survivor of the Bay of Pigs, he wrote that he felt compelled to record his own account of the events. In the book, Lynch maintained that his account would go some way towards combating the efforts of writers loyal to Kennedy to lay disproportionate blame for the failure on the CIA. Decision for Disaster does add new detail to the invasion, though it’s largely a savage broadside against those that Lynch considered to be armchair generals. The killing of Kennedy does not earn a mention.
Decision for Disaster initially looked as though it would re-write history when Ron Howard optioned the book for Universal Studios and Clint Eastwood was approached to play the hero. Yet the project never fell into place, and the option ran out after three years and was never renewed.
Instead it was the story of Guevara that hit the movie theatres with the 2004 Spanish-language film The Motorcycle Diaries, based on Che Guevara’s diary of his 1952 motorcycle trek up through South and Central America. Grayston Lynch planned to write a second book about his continued work against Cuba in the later part of the 1960s but he died in 2008 before completing the book, just as Hollywood was producing its first major movie about Guevara, a two-parter called Che and starring Benicio Del Toro and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Galway played a final cameo in the story of the Lynches of the Bay of Pigs in 2011, when the socialist city councillor Billy Cameron proposed a monument to che Guevara to commemorate the revolutionary as a ‘son of Galway.’ The local arts office came up with a mock-up of a monument based on the famous drawing by Jim Fitzpatrick but mutterings soon started that the stern visage of the communist revolutionary would frighten away American tourists. Cuban-born US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stoked the controversy by writing that the plan was “an insult to all of us who care about the cause of democracy and historical accuracy,” although the congresswoman failed to note that historical accuracy was no obstacle to a successful tourist attraction in the City of the Tribes or elsewhere. The possibility that American tourists would bypass Galway because of the perceived support for Guevara gave cause for concern, and the city council voted against the proposed monument.
No one has yet proposed a Galway monument to that other son of the Lynch tribe and hero of the anti-Castro Cubans, Grayston L. Lynch. Indeed, it may have irritated the old soldier to know that the main plaza of Galway, where the Guevara monement was mooted— although colloquially known by its old name Eyre Square — is officially titled John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.