LETTER : Cuba shoots first, for good reason

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Hopkirk

Sir: As one who spent an unpleasant week in a Cuban secret police cell in 1961 accused of spying, I am no apologist for President Castro's repressive regime. But I must condemn American humbug over the shooting down on Saturday of two Cuban exile aircraft flying, with obvious ill intent and despite warnings, close to the island's coast ("US calls on UN after two planes shot down", 26 February).

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Cuban exile pilots frequently flew over Cuba, firebombing the sugar crops and attacking other targets. Indeed, on the eve of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, which the US made no attempt to prevent, three aircraft bombed the island, killing seven young militiamen, whose bodies I saw publicly displayed in Havana before my arrest.

If the IRA possessed such aircraft, and made similar attacks, we would, I am sure, not hesitate to shoot them down and ask questions afterwards.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Hopkirk

London, SW6