The three remaining members of the Miami 5 released from US gaol today - and fly home to Cuba!
United Left today celebrates the release of the three remaining members of the so-called "Miami 5" from US jail - and joins with the Cuban people in welcoming them home at last! We share in the joy of the wives and families who are being reunited with their free men in Havana tonight. We also celebrate the release of US citizen Alan Gross and his return to his wife and family tonight, as part of the agreed prisoner exchange.
United Left very much welcomes President Obama's statement tonight opening talks towards normalising US relations with Cuba. Of crucial importance will be the prospect of ending the USA's pernicious economic blockade of Cuba, which has done so much damage to Cuba's progress and prosperity.
The prisoner release today by the USA follows a long campaign led by UNITE The Union to release the 5 Cubans who were imprisoned in 2001 on trumped up terrorism charges. The campaign was driven from the start by former General Secretary Tony Woodley following a meeting with Ricardo Alencon about the Miami 5 whilst on a visit to Cuba in May 2008*. The 5 were in Miami USA at the time gathering evidence on Cuban exiles who were engaged in a war of terror against communist Cuba. This followed a spate of terrorist atrocities in Cuba carried out by anti-Castro Cuban exiles based in Miami Florida USA, with the backing of the CIA.
The UNITE-led Miami 5 Campaign raised the profile of the plight of the Cubans who were serving excessive sentences for crimes they did not commit, and whose wives and families were cruelly denied visitor access. The campaign also highlighted the miscarriage of justice in the US courts when they were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment when their only crime was to hand over the evidence they had collated linking Miami Cuban exiles to the acts of terror on the Cuban island.
United Left pays tribute to the trade unions in Europe and USA who responded to the Campaign's call to raise the issue. In particular we thank the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and United Steel Workers (USW) for their valiant efforts to raise the issue directly with the US Government. We would also like to thank all those activists here in the UK and around the world who were inspired to support the Miami 5 and through whose actions we have achieved a magnificent victory today.
Chair of United Left