More than 100 attend Miami 5 vigil at US Embassy

Campaign News | Wednesday, 10 October 2007

<img src="images/vigilgroup.jpg" alt="Vigil Group" width="250" height="188">

MORE than a hundred people held a vigil in honour of the Miami 5 outside the United States’ Embassy, in London.

The event, organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC), marked the ninth anniversary of the five’s imprisonment and called for their immediate release.

The vigil was firmly backed by the British trade union movement and representatives from Unite, Unison and the NUJ called for the demonstration to become an annual fixture until the Cubans are cleared.

René González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and Gerardo Hernández (the Miami 5) are all serving lengthy jail sentences in the US, but are only ‘guilty’ of trying to stop further terrorist attacks against their country.

<img src="images/geoffbanner.jpg" alt="Father Geoff Bottoms" width="250" height="131">

Father Geoff Bottoms, chair of CSC’s Miami 5 campaign, said: “I’ve never had any doubt that we shall win and that the Cuban heroes will be released.

“The treatment the brave men are receiving not only punishes their friends and families, but also the whole of Cuba.

“Justice, truth and reason will eventually win out!”

This year the campaign has successfully broken the wall of media silence which has enveloped the Miami Five.

Fr. Bottoms added: “We have had coverage on BBC, CNN, CBS and the New York Times. We are finally getting the message across.”

Gerardo Hernández, currently in Victorville prison in the US, sent a message of thanks that was read out by Fr. Bottoms.

It read: “On behalf of the Miami 5, I wish to send our appreciation of your work which is an inspiration to all of us. The job CSC and our friends are doing is fantastic.

“We know that many in Great Britain stand in solidarity with us, and that is very encouraging.

“We will keep you in our hearts ¡Venceremos!”

Rob Miller, CSC director, said that a year ago CSC delivered an open letter to the then US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales calling on him to re-examine the case. It had been signed by more than 11,000 people, including 111 MPs, 15 general secretaries and public figures such as Harold Pinter and Tony Benn. US authorities are still to reply.

Fr. Bottoms added: “The five’s imprisonment must be viewed as part of an imperialistic campaign by the US to dominate Cuba, a quest which stretches back over more than two centuries.

“But what must be remembered is that there is a very real human face to this. The Miami 5 have wives, children, families and dear friends - all of whom are suffering.

“These men must be viewed as political hostages who have been kidnapped by the US.”

Fr Bottoms has met two of the Miami Five and is in regular correspondence with all of them.

He said: “I have the great privilege of knowing these men. They carry themselves with dignity, know they are fighting for the Cuban Revolution and stand out as representatives of a new humanity.

“They tell me any Cuban would do the same because the Revolution has given the people dignity. For me, they represent the qualities of the New Man about which Che Guevara speaks.

“We will free these men, we will beat the blockade and Cuba will come through triumphant and become a beckon of hope in a world in which solidarity will count for more than free market competition.”

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the Nation Union of Journalists, who also sits on the TUC General Council, slammed the international media for refusing to report on the Miami 5 for so many years.

He added: “The Miami Five were unarmed and risked everything to penetrate the terrorist groups in Miami.

“After arrest they were placed in solitary conferment, had tremendous difficulties communicating with their lawyers, the trial was held in the heartland of the anti-Castro brigade, legal evidence was withheld and a media campaign was conducted against them by people in the pay of the US Government.

“Any one of the above is sufficient to demand a retrial.”

Miriam Palacios, academic and board member of the Marti-Maceo Cultural Society of Cubans Resident in the UK, thanked the friends of Cuba for their support.

She added: “The Miami 5 are heroes. They are the model for future Cubans to embody.

“Our society is going to lobby Amnesty International to make sure they know that Cubans living abroad support the Revolution and the fight for the freedom of the five.”

Keith Sonnet, Unison’s deputy general secretary, said: “Cuba has a tremendous record in promoting the well being of its people, especially in education and the health service.

“It is ironic that the US should criticise Cuba for human rights abuses, abuses are indeed taking place in Cuba, but in the US-run Guantanamo Bay.”

Ken Gill, chair of CSC, said: “The Miami 5 are a part of a very honourable history of Cubans trying to prevent their country from being destroyed by US imperialism.”

Bernard Regan, CSC’s national secretary, said the US was responsible for “murder and mayhem” across the Middle East, and had been culpable of horrific crimes across Latin America for many decades.

He said: “The US claims to be fighting a war on terrorism, but we know it’s conducting a war of terrorism - and that’s precisely what the Miami Five were trying to prevent.”


Following the Miami Five Vigil on 9 October, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign received a letter of thanks from Elizabeth, wife of Ram?n Laba?ino.

Brother Rob,

Thank you for the photos of the vigil. We had already received news of this beautiful event in support of the cause of our families who are unjustly imprisoned in the United States. I told Ramon about this and he asked me to pass on to everyone in the UK his eternal gratitude and the conviction that the five will remain strong and always ready for whatever good they can do for humanity.

In the name of my husband, his comrades, and of all the families of the five, I send you a strong embrace and all of our affection.

Elizabeth, wife of Ramon

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