U.S. President Barack Obama is to send a more senior representative to the funeral of Communist dictator Fidel Castro than he did to the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes will attend the funeral of the anti-American firebrand along with Jeff DeLaurentis, the country’s top diplomat in Cuba, as an “unofficial delegation”.
By contrast, President Obama was accused of “snubbing” the funeral of Baroness Thatcher in 2013, sending two aging former Secretaries of State to lead a delegation that included no representatives from the incumbent administration.
As British Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher was a close friend and ally of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with the two working side-by-side to help end the rule of Communism in Eastern Europe.
Fidel Castro was a long-time enemy of America, famously bringing the country close to nuclear war in the early 1960s after agreeing to host Soviet missiles in Cuba. He ruled the island with an iron fist for decades before finally ceding power ten years ago as his health failed.
Cuba remains a Communist state under his brother Raúl, but President Obama has been trying to build links between the two countries in recent years.
This is not the first time the U.S. President has been accused of snubbing Britain. Early in his presidency the White House was forced to deny that he had removed a bust of Winston Churchill, only for the British Embassy to say the bust had indeed been returned to them.
He also caused a great deal of controversy earlier this year after flying over to British to tell voters to remain in the European Union, warning the UK would be “at the back of the queue” for a trade deal if it left.
Britain later voted to leave the European Union by 52 per cent to 49 per cent.