The Maritime Union of Australia has today welcomed the historic prisoner exchange deal between the US and Cuba, which will see the three remaining members of the ‘Cuban Five’ - as well as American Alan Gross - released from prison.
The MUA has campaigned strongly for the release of the Cuban Five since their arrest in 1998 and their subsequent conviction of conspiracy to commit espionage.
The MUA has always maintained that the Cuban Five were antiterrorist heroes and were performing vital work in monitoring violent right-wing Cuban exile groups responsible for attacks inside Cuba.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said today’s news was hugely satisfying.
“Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramon Labañino should never have been behind bars in the first place, and their release today is long overdue justice,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The MUA has campaigned long and hard for their release and it’s incredibly satisfying to see the goal of that campaign finally achieved today.
“It is my sincere hope that Gerardo, Antonio, and Ramon are able to reconnect with their friends and families in Cuba and return to the freedom that was cruelly snatched from them.
“These men are patriots and were doing nothing more than trying to protect the people of their nation from violence. It is to the eternal shame of the United States that they were imprisoned at all, but justice is far better late than never.
“On behalf of all of us in the Maritime Union of Australia I warmly congratulate Gerardo, Antonio, and Ramon on their release. I want to remind them that they will always have great friends in Australia.”