|Len McCluskey and Esther Cardenas|
Friends of Cuba were out in force to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Cuban revolution at the Simon Bolivar Hall in central London last Monday.
Cuban ambassador Esther Armenteros Cardenas welcomed guests that included NCP leader Andy Brooks and Central Committee member Daphne Liddle as well business people, academics and diplomats and representatives covering the whole spectrum of solidarity with the socialist island in Britain. And Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite and Prof Sue Michie of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign urged all those present to support an International Commission of Inquiry that will meet in March in London.
Internationally renowned commissioners will hear first-hand evidence from witnesses about their experiences of terrorism against Cuba and the arrest, trial, legal appeals and treatment and sentencing of the Cuban, or Miami, Five.
Former Miami Five prisoner René González will attend the event and give evidence to the Commission. He is the first and only member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States.
He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world including Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker.
The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurors from India, South Africa and France. It will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses including US defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from Amnesty International, and Miami Five family members. There will also be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US based terrorism.
In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said: “When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause.
“Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong.”
The International Commission is the major event of the Voices for the Five campaign which has brought together hundreds of international celebrities including John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Danny Glover, Lord Rowan Williams, Martin Sheen, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass, Peter Capaldi and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
They have been joined by thousands who have posted messages of support to the web based campaigning site.
A number of associated events will take place including a major international concert at the Barbican Hall in London featuring acclaimed Cuban musician and star of the Buena Vista Social Club Eliades Ochoa and his group Cuarteto Patria, alongside other international performers and guests, as well as associated screenings and exhibitions.
The two day International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Miami Five will take place on 7th and 8th March 2014, at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL.
Tickets for the Commission are £10 per day and available at:
www.voicesforthefive.com/commission/tickets/. Demand is expected to be high so please book as soon as possible.