200 Protest In London, Demand ‘Immediate Release' Of Cuban 5

“We want immediate, unconditional release now,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary designate of the Trades Union Congress, the largest trade union federation in Britain. She was speaking Sept. 18 at a protest of some 200 people outside the U.S. Embassy demanding freedom for five Cuban revolutionaries held in the U.S. This was the sixth annual such vigil organized by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

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Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González were arrested 14 years ago and convicted in 2001 on frame-up charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage and, in the case of Hernández, conspiracy to commit murder.

Like O’Grady, many speakers came from the labor movement, including Carolyn Simpson, representing the Southern and Eastern TUC; and Len McCluskey, general secretary of UNITE, the United Kingdom’s largest union. They were joined by Cuban doctor Aleida Guevara, daughter of Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara.

Simpson outlined the long history of violent and often deadly attacks by Cuban-American counterrevolutionaries against the Cuban Revolution and its supporters.

“How can we put an end to these activities?” Guevara asked, at a meeting at the House of Commons the day before where 150 people heard her speak as part of a tour of the U.K. “The only option we have is through information.” That’s why the five took assignments to infiltrate these paramilitary groups in the U.S., she explained.

McCluskey stressed the importance of spreading the truth about the case, saying the U.S. rulers needed to learn they “are not just dealing with 11 million Cubans, but the whole working-class movement around the world.”

Cathy Jamieson, a member of the House of Commons, spoke of a parliamentary motion she is supporting that criticizes U.S. authorities for refusing to grant visas to Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva to visit their husbands, Gerardo Hernández and René González. A number of other speakers denounced this measure.

Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, read a message from René Gonzaléz to the meeting that pointed to the U.S. rulers’ “calculated treatment to break our spirits and shatter ties with our loved ones. But they didn’t imagine that people like you would stand up.” González has been on supervised release in Miami since October 2011. He is fighting to be allowed to return to Cuba.

Musicians Omar Puente and Rebecca Thorn played a couple of songs. Actors Andy de la Tour and Adjoa Andoh read from letters between Fernando González and his wife Rosa Aurora Freijanes.