Ken Livingstone's recent visit to Cuba. What really happened? by Dave Miller, Dec 2006 http://davemiller.manme.org.uk/davemiller_art_blog/
London Assembly building, 3rd November 2006
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e to meet ailing president Fidel Castro. Livingstone was yesterday dndon: been Ken released of the publicly funded at the centre of a eign junkets furore planning a secret visit to Cuba. rking suspicions thatafter ittoisCuba an excuse ide said he had flown to e Mayor spending five days there before heading to ne meetisailing president Fidel ngtoconference sponsored by the Castro. nezuela to secure a deal to obtain cheap oil for London. Olympic Committee. Accompanied aide said heonhad flown to Cuba to he arrived Friday night. details had been releasedby of the the publicly funded ng conference sponsored ba trip, sparking suspicions that it is an excuse Olympic Committee. Accompanied d Sport For All conference ended Livingstone to meet ailing president he arrived on Friday night.just three Fidel Castro. erday, giving Livingstone
d seminars of little obvious use to e Mayor's aide he had flown to Cuba to ld Sport For Allsaid conference ended the capital's hosting of the 2012 Games. end a sporting conference sponsored terday, giving Livingstone just three by the ernational Olympic Committee. Accompanied d seminars of little use to ory group leader onobvious the London twocapital's aides, hehosting arrivedofonthe Friday night. the d: "If he has gone to do the 2012 Games.
f, why has he arrived on the eory 11th World Sport conference ended group leader onFor theAll London conference? It's outrageous midday yesterday, giving Livingstone just three d: has gonefor to do the ing"If thehetaxpayer what urs to attend seminars of little obvious use to f, why has he arrived on the visit to his old comrade ndoners or the capital's hosting of the 2012 Games. ."conference? It's outrageous ging the taxpayer for what gie Bray, group leader on the London visit to hisTory old comrade sembly, said: "If he has gone to do the l." ympics stuff, why has he arrived on the t day of the conference? It's outrageous t he's charging the taxpayer for what
Angie Bray, Tory group leader on the London Assembly
Mr Livingstone is not here Miss Bray, he took a trip.
Where's he gone?
Hereâ€™s your strong Cuban coffee sir
Up up and away!
Havana, Cuba â€“ at last! I think a tequila by the pool is in order.
Meanwhile back in London a storm is brewing... We are furious. No details had been released of this publicly funded Cuba trip. We suspect it is an excuse for Livingstone to meet the ailing president Fidel Castro.
That evening ...
So, you want to meet the big man?
Next day: the International Olympic conference (closing speeches)
Ken, the UK press have got wind of your trip, and want a statement on why you're here
Ken makes a press statement: This is a non-story summed us as: â€˜Mayor of city hosting Olympics visits event sponsored by the International Olympic Committee'. I am only stopping over on the way to a much bigger deal and it is not a journey or trip warranting much fuss or publicity...
After Cuba, I am scheduled to fly to Venezuela to sign an oil deal with President Hugo Chavez, which will ensure subsidised Venezuelan oil for London.
Angie Bray: "If he has gone to Michael Moore, do the the Liberal Democrat Olympics foreign affairs stuff, why spokesman: has he "Once again arrived on the the people of last day of London will the conference? be surprised It's outrageous that their that he's Mayor finds charging time to interfere the in foreign policy taxpayer for matters when his what I suspect focus should be is a visit on the affairs of to his old London." comrade who is very ill."
Back in London, the response
That evening ... Senor Livingstone. Follow me now.
Havana Central Hospital Fidel, it's been a long time.
Brother Ken! This is such a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you?
Fidel, I know this is a sensitive matter, but when you pass away - have you thought of who will take over from you? Have you perhaps - considered me? I would be honoured...
"Ken, you came all this way to spend 30 minutes at a closing press conference ... How could Londoners possibly benefit from this?"
Huge benefits. Huge benefits. We discussed We discussed building strategic building strategic coalitions in coalitions in physical promoting promoting activity inphysical an activity in anapproach, ecological ecological approach, sports events in sports events in Slovenia, mass Slovenia, mass community recreation community recreation in Venezuela and the inphysical Venezuela and the abilities of physical abilities of Cuban children. Cuban children. (yawn) (yawn)
Huge benefits for Londoners. We discussed building strategic coalitions in promoting physical activity in an ecological approach, sports events in Slovenia, mass community recreation in Venezuela and the physical abilities of Cuban children. (yawn)
Huge benefits. WeHuge discussed benefits. building strategic We discussed coalitions buildinginstrategi promoting physical coalitions in activity in an physi promoting ecological activity approach in an sports events in ecological appro Slovenia, mass in sports events community recreati Slovenia, mass
Caracas ,Venezuela: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Livingstone comes here tomorrow to talk about this oil for brooms deal for London
It’s a political minefield. We’re being accused of giving away cheap oil to rich countries while securing little in return for Venezuela's poor. Let’s put him off.
Unfortunately Senor Chavez has an election imminent and is so busy and sadly hasnâ€™t got time in his diary to see you
But Iâ€™ve booked the flights and everything
Ken Livingstone stood in the foyer of Havana's Hotel Nacional on Monday morning betraying no signs of the public relations disaster on his hands.
The Venezuelan elections always meant there was a question mark over my visit. He's in the middle of a presidential campaign; it's not surprising, it was always a risk.
Back to the UK on the next flight...
Hereâ€™s your weak English tea sir
Bloody Chavez! He ruined my holiday
Heathrow Airport, London
The trip has been very useful, and plans for a Cuban festival in London even bigger and better.
Mr Livingstone, was it all just an expensive foreign holiday?
er â€Śclearly the man is recovering from major surgery and he's not going to start popping around for photo opportunities
And Ken, did you meet Castro?