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London shows its support for the Miami Five

With the recent release of René González, the Cuba Solidarity movement continues their support for the remaining four imprisoned members of the Miami Five by holding a vigil in London on 1st December.

Olivia Crellin

On December 1st supporters of the Miami Five will meet outside the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square at 6.00pm with candles and trade union banners.

The Miami Five, also known as the Cuban Five, are a group of Cuban intelligence officers convicted in 1998 in Miami of conspiracy to commit murder, espionage and other illegal activities in the United States.

The vigil, held to mark the 13th year of the men’s imprisonment, is being organized by the UK branch of the Cuba Solidarity Movement.

Previous efforts by the international community to encourage the U.S. to free the five men: Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González, include letters written to the U.S. Attorney General by eight international Nobel Prize winners and 110 UK Members of Parliament.

Special guests at the vigil include mothers of the Miami Five Mirta Rodriguez Perez, Irma Sehwerert and Magali Llort Ruiz. Speakers from a variety of trade unions including Unite, Trades Union Congress (TUC) and University and College Union (UCU) will also be present, as well as UK MP Jeremy Corbyn, Father Geoff Bottoms from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the actor Andy de la Tour.

The Miami Five, throughout their trials, have always maintained their innocence providing the defense that they were collaborating on a mission to infiltrate militant anti-Castro groups in Miami’s exile community.

The shooting of two Brothers to the Rescue planes by Cuban fighters in 1996, killing all aboard, only served to render their case even more controversial.

The men still protested their innocence, however and at René González’s 2001 sentencing the spy declared that the men were guilty only of “having committed the crime of being men of honour.”

The event in London at the start of December will be all the more poignant in light of René González’s recent release from prison on October 7th.

René González, a 55 year-old former airline pilot, served thirteen years of his fifteen-year sentence in Florida’s Federal Prison of Marianna on charges of conspiring and acting as a Castro agent. Hernández, Guerrero, Labañino, and Fernando González, are still serving sentences that range from 18 years through to life imprisonment.

Even with one member of the Miami Five finally released last month, those who support the group still continue to struggle with the perceived injustice of the U.S. government and U.S. justice system.

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, are continuing to petition for René González’s rights after the U.S. government announced that he is required to remain in Florida for all three years of his parole. The group argues that by being forced to stay in Miami González is in danger from the very terrorists groups he was originally attempting to infiltrate.

For many, the U.S. decision to deny René González the right to return to Cuba calls into question yet again the rationale behind the spies’ imprisonment as well as the legitimacy of Obama’s recent, more liberal, policies on Cuba.  As Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba’s National Assembly put it at a rally last month; “This is the hour of truth for the Obama administration.”

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five consider the decision not to immediately deport González as evidence of U.S. government efforts to “destabilize the Cuban government” by protecting the U.S. based terrorists that the Miami Five were originally attempting to gather information on back in 1998.

On the occasion of González’s release Florida Congressperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was quoted describing René González as an “enemy of America” with “American blood on his hands.” This remark, printed in the Miami Herald, holds further proof for the advocacy group of the danger occasioned by the U.S. government’s requirement to keep González in the State of Florida.

González has no family in the State and the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has called the restriction on his parole both “cruel and unusual”, adding that it further extends injustices faced by González such as “being inhumanely deprived visits from his wife” for more than 11 years of his imprisonment.

Cuban-Americans would rather see Mr. González sent home, according to Damien Cave from the New York Times, but only for fear that if something happened to him Cuban exiles would, rightly or wrongly, be blamed.

Whether González is forced to remain in America or not, one thing is certain, his highly politicized status, shared with the other members of the Miami Five, endures, regardless of location. “They are a symbol,” Mr. Alarcón said, “of the essence of Cuban resistance.”

Even on the first day of December on the other side of the world this symbol of resistance will be upheld. Most obviously the vigil will be an acknowledgement of the resistance of five men, the Miami Five, “men of honour” that have become so emblematic for the people of Cuba.

Perhaps, as supporters gather outside the U.S. Embassy in London and wait for their leaders’ next move, it too will be a gentle reminder of the historic resistance between the two countries, Cuba and America, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Vigil for the Miami Five Info: Time: 01 December · 18:00 – 19:30

Location: Outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London, W1 (Bond Street Tube)

Further information about the event including speakers can be found at: For flyers to distribute to friends, colleagues and offices please contact the Cuba Solidarity Campaign at: or on 020 8800 015.

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