A glorious welcome for the Miami Five
CubaSi Editorial, Summer 2016
After sixteen years fighting for their freedom from US jails and a two year battle against the Home Secretary for visas to visit Britain, two of the Miami Five, René González and Gerardo Hernández and their families, finally arrived to celebrate with supporters in England, Scotland and Wales.
Theresa May, then Secretary of State for the Home Office, fought up until the last minute to delay their entry. Only the threat of legal action and hundreds of CSC members contacting their MPs to pile on the pressure, led to the victory that saw the men able to board their flights for the UK.
In just nine days they travelled the length and breadth of the land meeting with the thousands who had campaigned for so long for their freedom.
There were tears of joy for many who had got to know these brave men through years of exchanging letters. Many thought they would never meet with them in person bearing in mind Gerardo’s double life sentence. The ‘plan’ had been for him to die in prison.
The campaign to free the Five and subsequent struggle for their visas received exceptional support from the British trade union movement, parliamentarians and thousands of CSC supporters all over the country. At events across the land the messages were the same, joy, friendship and solidarity as well as a steely determination to keep up the struggle against the continuing US blockade and for the return of the illegally occupied Guantánamo bay.
Oxfam have just announced their intention to campaign against the blockade joining the growing movement for a final end to this inhumane policy.
Yet in a sign of the many difficulties still ahead the US House of Representatives have just approved a retrogressive bill that strengthens elements of the blockade.
The US’s treatment of the Five was always a manifestation of US aggression towards Cuba, punishment against the country and its people for choosing to follow its own independent path. Despite their release, the aggression continues and our struggle against the blockade and for the return of Guantánamo will need to be reinforced.
René González made clear his appreciation for the work of CSC, and ended his speech in London with a call for international solidarity:
“The campaign in Britain was the best organised and with the clearest and most effective strategy in the campaign for freedom and justice. If it wasn’t for CSC and the British trade unions, we wouldn’t be here today.
“We are not naïve in Cuba. We know of the threats and we are prepared. Revolutionary Cuba won’t take the flags down. You can count on that – but we need your continued support. International solidarity with Cuba is now more important than ever. The blockade remains in place and Guantánamo Bay continues to be illegally occupied.”