Che’s daughter backs Miami 5 protest in London

Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida spoke passionately outside the American embassy in London in protest at the continued imprisonment of five Cubans who have been in US jails for the last 14 years.

Photo report by Peter Arkell

Aleida Guevara
Che`s daughter Aleida Guevara listening to one of the speakers
at the protest outside the US Embassy on Tuesday evening

The Miami 5 were sent to infiltrate and monitor networks in Florida which have been trying to destabilise Cuba virtually since the 1959 revolution in Cuba. These groups operate with the complicity of the CIA and the US government, and are responsible for the deaths of many Cubans in terror attacks.

Their crimes include the blowing up of an airliner killing 76 people in 1976 and a bombing campaign against Cuban tourist hotels in the 1990s.

The FBI was informed of the operation to monitor the Miami groups, but instead of arresting the terrorists, the bureau used the information to identify and arrest the five Cubans in 1998. They were held illegally in solitary confinement for 17 months before their trial.

The five were convicted on charges ranging from being foreign agents to conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to between 15 years and double life imprisonment. The trial was held in the hostile environment of Miami where the anti-Castro community holds enormous political influence.

It has recently come to light that the US government had secretly paid journalists to write prejudicial articles in the media at the time of the trial and therefore undermined the defendants’ entitlement to a fair trial. Further appeals are being made to quash the sentences as a result of this revelation.

Aleida Guevara
Aleida Guevara

Aleida Guevara, together with some of the wives and mothers of the five, are in the UK as part of the campaign to break the silence surrounding the unjust jailing of the Cubans. Speakers at the embassy protest included union leaders Len McCluskey (Unite), Christine Blower (NUT), Billy Hayes (CWU) and Frances O’Grady (TUC general secretary-elect), Jonathan Ledger (NAPO), Cathy Jamieson MP, lawyers and actors. Musicians also performed.

Aleida Guevara called for an end to the American blockade of Cuba. She said that when the campaign to free the Miami Five started, she participated as just one more woman. Only when she got to know the wives, mothers and brothers did she realise the full extent of the conspiracy.

“I’ve always had the regret that I was not able embrace my father, but life did not give me this option. I struggle with all the force I can muster that the five can return home to the embrace of their wives.”

Aleida Guevara
Protesters listening to Aleida Guevara

She has spoken at a number of meetings in the UK recently including at the Unite union conference, at a fringe meeting at the TUC and in Parliament where 110 MPS heard her speak about her father and denounce the blockade and the imprisonment of the Miami 5.

“Since the blockade has not been enough to destroy the unity of the Cuban people and the revolutionary process,” she said in parliament, “the US administration has tried a mixture of military and biological warfare against Cuba”. Furthermore, Cuban-Americans in Florida have been used to undermine Cuba’s sovereign government.

“If someone poisons the water of a nursery, is that a terrorist action? If an artificial disease is introduced to kill an animal population, is that a terrorist action? If a bomb is exploded on a civilian aircraft, is that a terrorist action?”

Cuba had built a society founded on the principles of free education, healthcare and unparalleled internationalism, she said. It is able to send tens of thousands of doctors abroad and has led literacy campaigns across the under-developed world.

20 September 2012

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