Miami 5

17 December 2014
Miami 5
Unite hails the release of the remaining members of the Miami Five

Britain’s largest union, Unite welcomed today’s (Wednesday 17 December) release from prison of the final three members of the Miami five and hailed the perseverance of their wives and campaigners across the world who fought for their release.

The release of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino from American prisons follows the release of Alan Gross by Cuba as part of a ‘prisoner swap’ and marks moves to ‘normalise’ relations between the United States and Cuba.

Commenting, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This historic move is the culmination of years of campaigning by the wives of the Miami Five and campaigners across the globe.

“It is difficult to imagine not seeing your children grow up or seeing your family properly for over a decade. That has been the story of the Miami Five and their unjust imprisonment, of missed years and a continual fight for justice.

“The Miami Five’s plight has been an issue close to the heart of Unite and its predecessor unions. Their release owes much to the energy of former Unite general secretary Tony Woodley, who has campaigned tirelessly for the Miami Five to be reunited with their loved ones after years of imprisonment.

“Their release today shows what can be achieved through solidarity and perseverance, and will see families torn apart not just in Cuba, but in the United States brought together again after years of heartache.”

On 7 and 8 March 2014 there was an international commission of inquiry into the case of the Miami Five held in the Law Society in London. This commission explored in detail the many aspects of this case and heard from many of the key witnesses to both the background, the trial itself and the ensuing years of imprisonment. Never before has such a prestigious and influential group been brought together to look at this international case. The final commission report, including the recommendations of the commission members, will be prepared and will be presented to the White House. It will also be distributed widely. The organisers and participants of the commission are sure that its findings will be looked at and acted upon by those involved in this case, in particular the United States authorities. Read the commission's preliminary report.
The commissioners
Philippe Texier (former judge of the Cour de Cassation in France)
Zakeria ‘Zak’ Mohammed Yacoob (former justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa)
Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal (former chief of justice of India)
Commission co-ordinators
Sara Chandler (professor of clinical legal education at London South Bank University and the president of the Human Rights Commission of the Federation of European Bar Associations)
Elizabeth Woodcraft (barrister and author)
Giustion Di Celmo (father of Fabio Di Celmo, who was killed in a terrorist attack carried out by the Cuban American National Foundation)
Martin Garbus (leading American trial lawyer representing the Miami Five)
Réne González Sehweret (one of the five prisoners released in October 2011) – via Skype
Lorenzo Gonzalo (Deputy Director of Radio Miami and member of Martiana Alliance, an organisation that opposes the blockade of Cuba)
Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Hernández Caballero (investigator into surge in terrorist activity involving bombings in tourist centres in Cuba in the 1990s)
Philip Horowitz (sole practitioner of the Law Offices of Philip R. Horowitz in Miami, Florida who represented Réne González)
María Margarita Morales Fernández (daughter of Luis Alfredo Morales Viego, a victim of the mid-flight attach on a Cuban aviation plane in 1976)
Betina Palenzuela Corcho (daughter of Adriana Corcho Calleja, died in 1976 in a terrorist attack on offices of the Cuban Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal)
Elizabeth Palmerio Casado (wife of Ramón Labañino Salazar, currently held in FCI Ashland, Kentucky)
Norman Peach (emeritus professor at Hamburg University and a former member of parliament and an expert in international law)
Adriana Pérez O’Connor (wife of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, currently held in USP Victorville, California)
Peter Schey (president and executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Foundation)
Angela Wright (researcher at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International)
Special guests
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada (former president of the Cuban National Assembly)
Miguel Ángel Martínez (vice president of the European Parliament)
Ramsey Clark (American lawyer, activist and former public official)
Irma González Salanueva (daughter of Réne González)
Mirta Rodriguez Pérez (mother of Antonio Guerrero, currently held in FCI Marianna, Florida)
Olga Salanueva Arango (wife of Réne González)
Kenia Serrano Puig (president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples)
Alice Walker (internationally celebrated author, poet and activist)
In addition to the central events of  Commission there was an all party parliamentary group meeting on Thursday 6 March, a spectacular concert at the Barbican Centre attended by almost 2,000 people featuring stars of the Buena Vista Social Club on Friday 7 March evening and a gala dinner in Congress House on the closing night on Saturday 8 March which was addressed by our general secretary Len McCluskey and other trade union leaders and also by Réne González via a specially pre-recorded message for the event. Also, before the start of the dinner there was a cocktail reception to open exhibition of work by Antonio Guerrero and cartoons by Gerardo Hernández which were available for sale.
Réne González was due to be a key witness at the commission but was denied a visa by the British authorities on the day he was due to fly from Havana. Despite this further injustice Réne was able to give his testimony to the commission via Skype and received a standing ovation from delegates when he appeared on the screen.
As you can see from the list of sponsors and donors, Unite the union was one of the major supporters of these events which was acknowledged by many not least the families of the prisoners. Read the initial report on the eventView photos from the event. Watch the film “Justice in London” (“Justicia en Londres”) by the Cuban documentary film-maker and photographer Roberto Chile.

After several months of planning by a coalition of Cuba and other progressive solidarity activists of the Toronto area, 250 people attended a People's Tribunal about the Cuban Five, in the City Hall Chambers of this northeastern Canadian city. There they heard an impressive array of witnesses give testimony to a panel of Magistrates of Justice on the unjust and illegal political prosecution carried out by the U.S. government against Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González .More information on this event