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Friday, September 28, 2012
Aleida Guevara addresses Miami Five protest
By New Worker
ALEIDA GUEVARA, daughter of the Cuban revolutionary hero Che Guevara, last Tuesday attended a mass vigil outside the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square, organised to demand the release of the Miami Five.
A long line of speakers addressed the crowd of several hundred, with trade union activists heavily represented both in the crowd and on the platform.
They included Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers’ Union, newly-elected TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite, Eric Roberts (Unison), Christine Blower (NUT), Manuel Cortes (TSSA), Jonathan Ledger (Napo) and Carolyn Simpson (Sertuc).
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign’s annual Vigil for the Miami Five has become an integral part of the British campaign in support of the Five and, this year, fell a week after the 14th anniversary of their arrest.
They all called for justice for the Miami Five who were arrested in Florida while working to expose and bring to justice terrorists who were plotting acts of violence and terror against the Cuban people.
They were convicted of spying in a rigged trial and have been denied the right to see their wives and other family members.
The campaign to free them is global and in Britain the trade unions have played a crucial role in supporting the campaign led by Cuba Solidarity.
Frances O’Grady said that she “brought the support of the whole TUC” and declared “we want immediate and unconditional release now”. She said: “I am delighted that the first rally I’m speaking at as general secretary of the TUC is in support of the Miami Five. And she highlighted the irony that the Miami Five remain imprisoned for defending Cuba against terrorism in a country famous for inventing the “so-called War on Terror”.
Len McCluskey delivered a warning to the US government that they “are not just dealing with 11 million Cubans, they are dealing with the whole of the working class movement throughout the world.
“We will not allow you to bully and intimidate our Cuban comrades” he said.
Cathy Jamieson MP called on the crowd to lobby their MP to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 497.
The EDM was tabled by Michael Connarty MP and calls for visitation rights to be granted to Olga and Adriana – wives of Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez – who have been unable to see their husbands for 14 years.
Two progressive trade union lawyers also gave their verdict on the case against the Miami Five, declaring it to be rubbish.
Doug Christie and Steve Cottingham spoke on behalf of two firms – Thompsons and OH Parsons.
They referred to recent revelations that the US government paid journalists at the time of the trial to write prejudicial articles – and contextualised the treatment of the Five within a history of state collusion and conspiracy.
Two musicians, Omar Puente and Rebecca Thorn, sang a number of songs, ending with Hasta Siempre, written as a tribute to Che Guevara.
Then actors Adjoa Andoh and Andy de la Tour performed an emotive reading of letters exchanged between Rosa Aurora Freijanes and her imprisoned husband Fernando Gonzalez.
As the light faded, candles were lit and Aleida Guevara took the stage to rapturous applause.
She echoed previous contributions that we struggle, not just for the Five, but for their brave mothers, wives, children and families. She lamented that their trial and incarceration “violates the legal norms of the United States”.
Aleida thanked those in attendance – and those in support of the campaign – for their solidarity. “Thank you for your resistance – but we still have to do more. We need to multiply our force. Let’s break the blockade of silence imposed on the truth. As Jose Marti said, bad people triumph when good people sleep.”