Britain denies visa to Cuban 5 hero

The British labor movement reacted swiftly when the government there denied an entry visa to Cuban 5 hero René González. González was to be the main witness for “The International Commission of Inquiry on the Case of the Cuban 5,” held at London’s Law Society on March 7 and 8.

In an open letter published in The Guardian, the general secretaries of three major unions — Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers, Len McCluskey of Unite and Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers — pointed out that this decision by U.S. imperialism’s junior partner could “only be interpreted as a political one.” The letter was also signed by six members of Parliament.

General Secretary Frances O’Grady of the Trade Union Congress also asked for the “urgent intervention” of Home Secretary Theresa May, who is responsible for national security and immigration. The TUC represents 54 unions with nearly 6 million members. Both statements can be read at

A report from Free the Five Coordination-Europe says:

“The investigating commission is comprised of prominent international jurists, including former Indian Justice Minister Yogesh Sabharwal; former member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Zak Yaccob; and former judge of France’s Court of Cassation, Philippe Texier.

“More than 300 participants are participating in the International Inquiry, including representatives from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Vietnam, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Norway, Romania, El Salvador, Chile and Cuba.

“The Commission heard video testimony from René González, one of the Cuban Five, who was released in 2011 … ; Lt. Col. Roberto Hernández Caballero, a researcher of the Cuban Ministry of Interior; Martin Garbus, an attorney for the Five; Philip Horowitz, defense attorney for René González; and the wives of René González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino.

“The Inquiry also held panel discussions with Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker; former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; former Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón; and Miguel Ángel Martínez, Vice-President of the European Parliament.

“The Commission invited U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Matthew W. D. Barzun to participate, but the Ambassador declined, citing other pressing commitments.”

The evidence and opinion of the commissioners will be sent to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The momentum from the London inquiry will carry on to the third “Five Days for the Cuban 5” to be held in Washington, D.C., June 4 to 11. Details on housing and ways to help financially will be updated at as they become available.

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