British and international trade unions welcome the release of Miami Five

Campaign News | Thursday, 18 December 2014

The British and international trade union movement welcomed the release from prison of the final three members of the Miami Five which took place on an historic day on 17 December 2014.

The release of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino from American prisons follows the release of Alan Gross by Cuba as part of a “prisoner swap” on humanitarian grounds and marks a shift towards new relations between the United States and Cuba.

The international trade union movement, Cuba Solidarity Campaign and other international organisations have worked tirelessly campaigning for the release of the Five for the last sixteen years.

Unite the Union General secretary Len McCluskey said: “This historic move is the culmination of years of campaigning by the wives of the Miami Five and campaigners across the globe.

“It is difficult to imagine not seeing your children grow up or seeing your family properly for over a decade. That has been the story of the Miami Five and their unjust imprisonment, of missed years and a continual fight for justice.

“The Miami Five’s plight has been an issue close to the heart of Unite and its predecessor unions. Their release owes much to the energy of former Unite general secretary Tony Woodley, who has campaigned tirelessly for the Miami Five to be reunited with their loved ones after years of imprisonment.

“Their release today shows what can be achieved through solidarity and perseverance, and will see families torn apart not just in Cuba, but in the United States brought together again after years of heartache.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: "UNISON welcome the historic move to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two neighbours. We will continue our call for the blockade to be lifted immediately as it has for too long punished an entire nation because of the hysteria of the Cold War more than 50 years ago.

"We will now support the Five to clear their names so that their criminal records, which should never have been given in the first place, may be expunged.

"We wish Fernando, Ramon, Gerardo, Antonio and Rene a very happy Christmas as they celebrate being back home with their families and friends for the first time since 1998."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The decision by the US to release the remaining members of the imprisoned Miami Five is great news and follows years of relentless campaigning by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, work supported by RMT.

“RMT will be issuing immediate invites to the Miami Five to next summer’s annual RMT Cuba Garden Party ‎which we hope they will be able to attend. Our support and solidarity with the Cuban people will continue. “

Responding to the announcement, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We welcome this rare - if overdue - example of common sense prevailing over petty politics and posturing.

“We are delighted that the remaining members of the Cuban Five are free and will be able to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, from whom they have for too long been kept apart.

“We very much hope that this signals a new era for US-Cuban relations, and that President Obama will move immediately to end the decades-long illegal embargo which has blighted so many lives.”

The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard said; “Workers Uniting - the USW’s partnership with Unite the Union in Great Britain and Ireland - has long worked to win the release of these prisoners. We thank Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey and advisor Tony Woodley for their leadership in this effort.

“The measures announced today by President Obama are the first step in a historic effort by the administration to normalize relations with the Cuban government. This is long overdue good news for the economies of both nations and for the millions of good people in Cuba who have suffered the effects of this conflict for far too long.”

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign would like to thank the trade union movement for their support and campaigning for the freedom of the Miami Five.

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