Rally in Trafalgar Square, London WC2, Sunday 9 March. From 2pm
On Sunday 9 March representatives from the US, Canada, Latin America, Cuba and Europe will join British campaigners to denounce the British government’s decision to withhold an entry visa from Rene Gonzalez, one of the five Cuban anti-terrorism agents, imprisoned in the US and known as the ‘Cuban Five’.
Gonzalez is one of five Cuban government intelligence agents who infiltrated exile-groups in Miami in the 1990s to uncover violent terrorist plots against Cuba. Evidence gathered, including plans to bomb tourist planes travelling to and from Cuba, was handed to the FBI and other US agencies. The US government’s response was to arrest the Cuban agents. They were convicted in 2001 on conspiracy charges and for using false identities and sentenced to between 15 years and double life in US prisons. In 2005, a US court ruled that the Cuban Five did not receive a fair trial, but no retrial was granted.
In 2011 Gonzalez was the first of the Cuban Five freed and returned to Cuba. He was to appear in London on 7 and 8 March as the star witness at a two-day International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five, at the Law Society (voicesforthefive.com). Evidence on the case will be presented by legal experts and politicians, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Tessa Murphy from Amnesty International. The Commission is supported by John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Danny Glover, Lord Rowan Williams, Martin Sheen, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass, Peter Capaldi and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
The British government can deny visas to anyone who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. However, campaigners point out that dispensation can be granted. ‘None of the charges against Rene and his Cuban colleagues involved violence, weapons or damage to property’, said Dr Helen Yaffe, a specialist in Cuban history at the University of Leicester. ‘Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have been killed by terrorist attacks or aggression – mainly launched from Miami. The Cuban Five worked to halt those attacks. That Rene Gonzalez is not welcomed as a hero by the British government exposes the hypocrisy of their so-called war on terrorism’.
Hosted by British campaign Rock Around the Blockade (ratb.org.uk) the rally takes place in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 9 March from 2pm with speeches, music and a giant Cuban flag. The protestors will demand the immediate release of the three Cuban agents who remain in US prisons: Antonio Guerrero (22 years) and Ramón Labañino (30 years) and Gerardo Hernandez (two consecutive life sentences). Fernando González (18 years) the second agent to be released, returned to Cuba just last Friday, 28 February.
More details on the protest see: www.ratb.org.uk/news/campaign-news/380-ra100214