UK and Canadian unions pressure Obama on the Five

Campaign News | Friday, 3 September 2010

A strong message in support of the campaign for justice for the Miami Five and their families was delivered to President Obama this week.

Three union leaders from Canada and the UK, collectively representing three million workers, sent a joint letter to the US president calling for visitation rights for family members and a reveiw of their convictions.

The letter signed by Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary of Unite the Union, Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada of the USW, and Wayne Hanley, National President, UFCW-Canada is reprinted below:

September 2, 2010

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Re: Cuban Five Held in US Prisons

We are Union leaders from Canada and the United Kingdom and collectively represent over three million working men and women.

We have come together with workers, social justice and community organizations and individuals to add our voices to the voices of justice seeking people from around the world calling for the immediate release of five men currently being held in U.S. federal prisons - René González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and Gerardo Hernandez.

These five men were arrested in Miami, Florida in September of 1998 and charged with 26 counts of violating the federal laws of the United States.

Twenty-four of those charges were relatively minor and technical offenses. None of the charges involved violence in the U.S., the use of weapons, nor property damage. The mission of these men was not to obtain military secrets, as was charged, but rather to monitor and report planned terrorist attacks that were directed against the people of Cuba.

In addition to suffering unfair imprisonment, two of the Five, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzales, have been denied their basic human rights. They have not been allowed to receive visits from their wives. Adriana Perez has not seen her

husband for 12 years and Olga Salanueva who has not seen her husband for 9 years.

Gerardo is experiencing health issues, including high blood pressure. In April he requested a medical appointment, but was not seen by a doctor until July 20th, three months later. Currently there is a bacterium circulating through the prison where he is being held, with some cases being serious. The doctor had prescribed a blood test for Gerardo, but instead of receiving it he was abruptly taken to the ‘hole’ and held there for 13 days, until August 3rd.

This harassment of Gerardo takes place at a critical time. He is preparing his Habeas Corpus. It is alarming to note that despite being a model prisoner, this is the third time that Gerardo has found himself in the ‘hole’ while preparing for

an appeal.

The arrest, prosecution and treatment of these five innocent men, for their courageous attempt to stop terror, is not only unjust, but exposes the hypocrisy of the U.S. claim to oppose terrorism.

All of us meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on August 8, 2010 request that you take steps to ensure that:

- Gerardo Hernandez receives urgent access to medical attention, and is able to properly prepare for his legal appeals without harassment;

- Gerardo Hernandez and René González are allowed visits by their wives Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva; and

- The cases of all five men are reviewed, with a view to their release.

Sincerely yours,

Ken Neumann

National Director for Canada, USW

Tony Woodley

Joint General Secretary, UNITE

Wayne Hanley

National President, UFCW-Canada

cc: David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

Eric Holder, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

Leo Gerard, International President, USW

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