Labour movement appeals to Obama on behalf of Miami Five
Campaign News | Monday, 7 November 2011
Eighteen general secretaries have signed a letter to President Obama calling for Miami 5 prisoner René González to be allowed to return home to Cuba following his release from a US jail last month.
René is one of the Miami 5, five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in US jails since 1998 for trying to stop attacks against the Cuban people by infiltrating US based right-wing terrorist groups.
René who received the shortest sentence of the five men, was released from jail on 7 October 2011 after serving 13 years, but he has been told by US authorities that he must spend a further three years on probation in Florida, alongside the very terrorist organisations he was there to infiltrate.
The letter to the US president states: “We urge you to intervene in this case and allow René to return to Cuba, rather than be forced to stay in Florida, which would not only be a cruel additional punishment but potentially threatening to his safety. Amnesty International has already raised concerns about the fairness of his trial, and the inhumane punishment he is being subjected to by being denied visits from his wife.”
Prior to his release, Judge Joan Lenard issued a directive forcing González to remain in Florida and prohibiting him “from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, organized crime figures are known to frequent”.
Her acknowledgement that these terrorist groups exist, yet walk free on US soil, gives credence to the fears of his lawyer and family, that forcing Rene to stay in Florida constitutes and real and present danger to his life.
Speaking at a Latin America 2011 meeting at the TUC on 8 October 2011, US academic Professor Noam Chomsky confirmed this threat stating that “there are real reasons to be concerned about his safety” because Florida is “one of the major terrorist havens in the world”. Nearly 3,500 Cubans have died as a result of terrorist attacks against the island, most of which have emanated from Miami.
The letter has been signed by all the general secretaries of all major UK unions including Brendan Barber (TUC), Len McClusky (Unite), Dave Prentis (UNISON), Paul Kenny (GMB), Christine Blower (NUT) and Mark Sewotka (PCS). Other signatures include, Baroness Angela Smith, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba, MPs and members of the legal and artistic community.
Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign who organised the letter said that action in the UK would continue on behalf of René and the Five.
“Three mothers of the Five will come to the UK in November to speak at Unite Sector conferences. Mirta Rodriguez, Irma Sehwerert and Magali Llort will also participate in the Cuba Solidarity Campaign’s fifth annual candlelit Vigil for the Five outside the US Embassy in London on Thursday 1 December at 6pm, where hundreds of supporters gather with candles to protest against the continued imprisonment of the Five in the US.”
In April 2012, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign will also host a major exhibition of Cuban and UK art including the work of Gerardo Hernández and Antonio Guerrero in the UK to further break the silence on this injustice.
Full text of the letter sent to President Obama in October.
Dear President Obama
Please allow Rene Gonzalez to return home to his family in Cuba
We are writing to ask that you intervene in the case of René González, who was released from Mariana prison, Florida, on 7 October 2011 after serving 13 years.
In September, Judge Joan Lenard issued an order which forces González to live in Florida on his release. Her decision also dictates certain conditions of parole, including prohibiting him "from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, organized crime figures are known to be or frequent..."
His lawyer, wife and mother are concerned for his safety if he is forced to stay in the US alongside the very Miami based terrorists he was monitoring who have never been prosecuted and remain free in Florida.
Mr González’s safety is also threatened by the inflammatory statements from Cuba-born Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who called González an "enemy of America" with "blood on his hands", just days before his release.
We urge you to intervene in this case and allow René to return to Cuba, rather than be forced to stay in Florida, which would not only be a cruel additional punnishment but potentially threatening to his safety. Amnesty International has already raised concerns about the fairness of his trial, and the inhumane punishment he is being subjected to by being denied visits from his wife.
We ask that you take measures to ensure the safety of René González and the best way to do this would be to send him home to his family in Cuba today.
(signatories as above)
Picture shows Rene Gonzalez with his eldest daughter Irma on the morning of his release in October.
- Read the orginal story from Union News
- Come to the Vigil for the Five on Thursday 1 December
- Observer publishes extracts from Miami Five letter to Obama