Crowds flock to US Embassy vigil to support the Miami Five

Campaign News | Wednesday, 20 October 2010

By Rob Miller, CSC Director

Up to four hundred people gathered for CSC’s annual candlelit vigil outside the US Embassy in London on Tuesday to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Miami Five prisoners held in US jails.

On what was a very cold and wet October evening the crowd held flaming candles aloft symbolising their hopes for justice and freedom for the Five heroes and their families after 12 long years of imprisonment.

Present at the vigil was Irma González, daughter of the René González, one of the Miami 5 prisoners.

"I thank you all for your love and support. For 12 years you have been with us every step of the way," she said.

Moving messages were read out to the crowd from Gerardo Hernández, René González and Fernando González.

Gerardo’s message included the following:

'Dear Friends attending the Vigil for the Five in London: Once again you are reunited outside the U.S. Embassy to show solidarity with the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for defending our country against terrorism. Once again the functionaries of that embassy will ignore your claim or will say that the Five are in prison for the very serious crime of having committed espionage.

Once again we can tell anybody, plain and simple: that is a lie.’

Many speakers, including leading figures from British trade unions addressed the vigil, each one pledging to continue to work within their unions to bring justice for the five and their families.

Former Labour Government Minister Tony Benn praised the Cuban revolution for "inspiring people all over the world," adding that the Miami Five have the "friendship of the British people."

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber praised the "courage" of the Miami Five and highlighted the pressure being exerted on the US unions to raise the issue. "We have begun to energise the American labour movement and bring political pressure on the US authorities," he said.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary, Unite, spoke of his recent visit to see Gerardo in prison in the US and spoke of his ‘high spirits’ and strength and his determination in the face of the often brutal conditions in the prison.

Britain's trade union movement was well represented at the event, with speakers from Unison, FBU, Napo, NUT, GMB and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

The vigil was timely as one week earlier the UK based Amnesty International released a 22 page report criticising the judicial process and conditions the five men were being kept in.

Shane Enright, Amnesty International’s Global trade Union Advisor, spoke at the vigil and told the crowd that AI had written to US Attorney general Eric Holder on 4th October asking for a response to their report which questions the ‘fairness and impartiality’ of the original trial held in Miami.

MP Michael Connarty, recounted that 110 members of parliament had signed a motion for justice for the Five in 2003 and as nothing has changed we should once again ask parliamentarians to take up the issue.

Cuba Solidarity Campaign Vice Chair, Baroness Angela Smith, praised the international campaign and called on those present to redouble their efforts for justice for the Five and their families.

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