Interview with families of the Five
The fight for justice continues
Back in the UK to raise awareness on the 11th anniversary of their husbands arrests and imprisonment in US jails, Miami Five prisoners wives, Adriana Peréz and Olga Salaneueva, and daughter Irma González, talk exclusively to CubaSí about their experiences.
“We have noticed the support has been increasing in the UK. Many more unions are now involved, the case is better known and we here there is consistent campaigning with concrete actions.
“At the Labour Party Conference there were many more people coming to speak to us this year who were aware of the case, and they all showed great concern about our visa denials.”
“Specifically, at the fringe meeting we saw that the room was full with many people standing. There were some familiar faces from last year, but also many new faces, all of whom were visibly moved when we spoke.
UNION SUPPORT IS IMORTANT TO US
“They gave us a standing ovation and showed that they identified with out cause. For us it very important that unions here support the case because they have many links with unions in the United States and this is where the case needs to be known better.”
“We are very thankful to Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson of Unite for the personal interest they have shown in helping us and the fact they are even considering going to visit the US prisons so that they can see with their own eyes the situation they are in and how they can help.”
“At this moment it is extremely important that we obtain all the international support that we can get. Especially in Gerardo’s case, since legally his case is practically closed. We need to reach the Obama administration to obtain a political solution and to gain his freedom.”
It was Irma’s first time in the UK and CubaSí asked her what she thought of the visit and her reception.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR FIRST UK VISIT
“I was expecting a lot because I had also heard about the support in the UK and how well organised the campaign was from my mum and Adriana. They had told me how many people were involved and moved by our cause here.”
“However, even though I knew to expect to see this, it completely exceeded my expectations. I never thought there would be so many people involved, not only working on it, but emotionally involved.”
“It was very and touching and moving to see so many people at the meetings, not only listening but coming back to us and saying they supported us. Seeing them outside the conference holding our hands and saying they would do all we asked like sending letters to Hilary Clinton and Janet Napolitano.“
“It was also so moving to see so many people at the vigil, for such a long time holding candles and shouting for us and the other relatives.”
“I will leave the UK with a very beautiful feeling, that there are so many men and women here standing by our side. And that they not only promise to help us, but I know that they are actually doing things to help us. They don’t only say it with words but also with actions, because action is what they have been doing for many years.”
“I would like to thank all the unions and people who have been supporting us for years and those that are now joining our cause.”
Praising the work of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in Olga Salanueva added:“From the very beginning we saw that the CSC was very well organised and we liked that very much.”
THE UK IS A PLACE WE LIKE TO COME
“Compared to other countries you have a very clear and focussed way of working on the case. It was CSC that recommended we go to Amnesty International, and CSC not only advised us by took us there and got lawyers involved in the campaign here. Little by little we have seen that this organisation has been gaining new allies in the unions and through them we have been able to get to many more people.”
“The UK is a place we like to come because every time we do we see progress is being made. And it’s not only the solidarity of the common people but also those in senior positions within trade unions and parliament. Among the international campaigns for the Five, the one run by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the UK is a leader in what has been achieved.”
“We know that there many CSC members in the UK who also correspond directly with the Five. The first letters that reached them in prison were from the UK, and they have been by our side for a very long time.”
“Together with these older people whom the five consider part of their family, little by little there have been many more people joining us.
People from different areas and backgrounds, but all with something in common - they are kind, with noble souls who have learnt to understand why the five abandoned their families to defend a bigger family, the Cuban people.”
“We hope all these people will be present on the day they return, and if the Five are able to go anywhere when they are free it should be here to Great Britain.”
Antonio resentenced to 21 years 11 months.
Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban antiterrorists unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998 has had his sentence reduced to 21 years plus 10 months in jail.
Judge Joan Lenard ignored an agreement reached by the US government and defense attorneys to settle on a reduction to 20 years when she approved the lighter sentence 13 October in Miami.
Fernando Gonzalez and Ramón Labañino, who were due to be resentenced with Antonio had their hearings postponed after the judge issued an order in response to a request by the defense.
All three had their previous sentences overturned by the 11th Circuit of Atlanta’s Court of Appeals which declared their orignal punishment too harsh because the government had never proved that they had traded in “top secret” intelligence.
Judge Joan A. Lenard of Federal District Court replaced Antonio Guerrero’s life sentence with a sentence of 262 months, which means he will be out of prison in about seven years, counting time served since his 1998 arrest and time off for good behavior. Prosecutors and Mr. Guerrero’s lawyers had asked for the sentence to be reduced to 240 months.
“It was odd,” said Leonard Weinglass,
Mr. Guerrero’s lawyer. “You have a man who was on a military base but who didn’t take a single classified document and no one testified that he injured U.S. national security, but the judge still rejects the prosecutors’ request to lighten the sentence.”