We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting Gerardo Hernández and René González.
Eventbrite page is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/miami-five-freedom-tour-scotland-tickets-26335701793
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary
Denise Christie, FBU Scotloand Chair
Sam McCartney, Unison Scotland, International Committee Chair
Neil Findlay MSP, Cross Party Group on Cuba
Chair, Vicky Grandon, Scottish Cuba Solidarity.
The Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign, in partnership with Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, ran another annual Scottish Latin America Conference at the end of 2014.
Video of speakers from that successful and wide-ranging event are now available free to watch online.
Dr Francisco Dominguez of Cuba Solidarity & Venezuela Solidarity Campaigns.
Mo Hume of Glasgow University gives an introduction into the context of violence against women in El Salvador.
Morena Herrera, campaigner for women's rights in El Salvador, reveals her insights into the needs of reproductive rights in the region & the work that still needs to be done to improve them.
Vickie Knox of the Central American Women's Network: promoting women's rights and gender equality
Jamie Peters from UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC)
Recently appointed, Cuban Ambassador, Her Excellency, Teresita Vincente, along with her husband, Antonio Rodriguez made her first visit to Scotland recently.
On Monday 20th April, they attended the STUC Congress in Ayr. After speaking to a packed Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign Fringe, 'The Miami Five are Free. Now End the Blockade!' Teresita addressed Congress. She expressed gratitude for the support shown by the STUC for the Campaign to Free the Five, and stressed the importance of International Solidarity efforts in achieving their freedom. She also reiterated the importance of ending the Embargo, and of the moves towards the normalisation of relations between the US and Cuba.
On Tuesday 21st April, Teresita and Tony visited the Scottish Parliament, where they were hosted by Elaine Smith MSP, Convener of the Cross Party Group on Cuba. They attended part of members' business, and the Presiding Officer welcomed the Ambassador to the Parliament. They then met formally with the Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, MSP.
Elaine Smith had tabled the following motion:
S4M-12962 Elaine Smith: US Removes Cuba from Terrorism List—That the Parliament welcomes the Cuban Ambassador, Her Excellency Mrs Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, who will visit the Parliament for the first time on 21 April 2015; considers that the visit is taking place at a historic time for Cuba, given the recent decision by the US to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism; understands that the move by the US is seen as a key step to normalise relations between the US and Cuba; recognises that the announcement came days after President Obama and the Cuban President, Raul Castro, met on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama, marking the first formal meeting between the leaders of their countries in a half-century; congratulates President Obama on his efforts to normalise relations with Cuba and his attempts to end the five-decade Cuban embargo, however considers that more work needs to be done to ensure that Cuba is supported and treated fairly by its neighbours.
Their visit wound up with a meeting of the Cross Party Group on Cuba, chaired by Elaine, attended by MSPs , SCSC members and supporters and members of the public.
Our AGM next Saturday 30th May, 10am, at John Smith House, Glasgow., will be a business only meeting this year, as we are holding a public meeting next month on the recent developments in Cuba, and internationally.
On June 18th, at 7pm, STUC, Woodlands Rd, Glasgow, Dr Stephen Wilkinson of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba will speak. Steve is one of the UK's experts on Cuba, and has spoken in Scotland before. We are delighted to welcome him back.
We hope that Steve will also speak at a Cross Party Group meeting at the Parliament during his time in Scotland.
This meeting replaces our next planned Film and Discussion meeting, but these will continue after the summer break with the next planned for Thursday 20th August, 7pm, STUC, Glasgow.
In late October/early November Glasgow will see a short Cuban Guitar music Festival, followed by a Glasgow-Havana Film Festival with a number of events planned around them. We'll keep you updated!
The recent visit to Scotland by the new Cuban Ambassador, Teresita Vicente was a great success, with her speaking to the STUC Congress, addressing a packed Fringe, and a visit to Parliament Further details are on SCSC/CSC websites.
International Solidarity at the STUC Centre
333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow
Map & directions:
NB - the film night planned for Thursday June 18th June (Viva Cuba) is being replaced by a Public Meeting with Dr Stephen Wilkinson of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba on the same night in STUC 7pm.
Tells the story of the case of The Cuban Five, intelligence agents sent to penetrate Cuban exile terrorist groups in Miami and now serving long prison sentences, the film highlights decades of assassinations and sabotage at first backed by Washington, then ignored by the very government that launched a "war against terrorism”.
Guantanamera is a 1995 comedy film from Cuba, directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío , featuring an ensemble cast. Screenplay by Eliseo Alberto and others. The film was produced by Camilo Vives
Please share with friends, family and colleagues - and anyone who'd be interested in these informal, informative & fun evenings.
We are delighted to announce that the recently appointed Ambassador to the UK, her Excellency, Teresita Vincente will be making a short visit to Scotland in April.
SCSC will be holding a Fringe Meeting, “The Miami Five are Free! Now the Blockade!”, on Monday 20th April at 12:45pm in the Red Rum Room, at Ayr Race Course. The Ambassador will be speaking alongside Elaine Smith, MSP, Convener of the Scottish Parliamentary Group on Cuba
Later that afternoon, the Ambassador will address Congress itself.
On Tuesday 21st April, the Ambassador will speak at a meeting of the Cross Party Group in the Parliament at 6.00pm
This will be the fist visit to Scotland since the release of the Miami Five, and the re-establishment of relations between the US and Cuba, and will provide a unique opportunity to hear about it from the Cuban perspective.
The flier is enclosed, with our next film being on Thursday 16th April at the STUC, at 7pm where we will be showing “The Cuban Wives”.
Come along for the Film, discussion, a cocktail if you fancy, and an opportunity to support the Campaign by buying something from the stall.
This year, AGM will be on Saturday 30th May, 10am, at John Smith House, Glasgow. Details will follow shortly.
1 January 1959 saw the victorious Cubans overthrow the US-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and the beginning of the world famous Cuban Revolution! Every attempt has been made to undermine and strangle the independence & sovereignty of the Cuban people - from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, 638 assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, US-backed campaigns of terrorism including planting bombs in hotels and the blowing up of a Cuban airliner plane full of people, and the longest economic blockade in history by the USA Super Power on what was a tiny third world Caribbean Island. Yet still after all these massive attempts at subversion the Cuban Revolution continues. So do the attempts to crush it - as exposed recently with a CIA-controlled "independent Twitter" service and the covert use of "Non-Governmental Organisations" posing as mere charities, but who in reality were US agents involved in trying to organise & ferment civil unrest amongst youth and anybody they considered that could be turned by them against the Revolution.
In the 56th anniversary, the long awaited release of the Miami 5 has surely made this January 1st an even bigger celebration - heroic Cubans who became political prisoners after investigating terrorism being planned on US soil that was to be waged against Cuba! The recent promised improvements in relations between the USA and Cuba announced in December will also be watched with interest.
In 2015 the message is clear: the Miami Five Are Free, Now We Must End The Blockade! http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=2625
Special report by Telesur TV English: On 13 December 1994 two men with justice & vision at their hearts met and embraced each other in a hug - those men were the leader of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and the Revolutionary leader of Cuba Fidel Castro.
Find out more about this special meeting, and the renewed hope for social justice & and the prospects for a better life that it has given millions, not just in Latin America but across the world.
Read more here:
Cuba–U.S. relations took a historic turn on Dec. 17, when three Cuban political prisoners — unjustly held by the United States for more than 15 years — were released, and the White House announced numerous policy shifts.
President Barack Obama admitted that his country's half century attempt to defeat Cuba had failed.
Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina, and Antonio Guerrero — the three remaining imprisoned members of the renowned Cuban Five — had been incarcerated in the United States since 1998.
Accused of espionage, the three were detained during an attempt to uncover terrorist plots against the people of Cuba being masterminded by extremists in Florida.
The liberation of the three Cubans came as part of a prisoner swap, which included the release of a U.S. intelligence agent held by Havana.
Seperately, Alan Gross, a U.S. State department subcontractor, convicted of subversion in Cuba after attempting to create communication networks to destabilize the government, was released on humanitarian grounds.
During a televised speech, U.S. President Barack Obama announced policies moving towards a normalizing of relations with the Carribbean island; the two countries will open embassies.
And while a complete end to the economic blockade of the island was not announced, Obama spoke of re-establishing high-level diplomatic ties as well, as easing economic and travel restrictions that have been imposed on Cuba.
Obama said a full end to the blockade would be discussed with Congress, but as Cuban President Raul Castro said, it is time for Obama to go the whole way and lift the inhumane blockade.
After 12 years interned in US prisons, the last of the Miami Five detainees are finally home
from the Morning Star by John Haylett and Luke James
OVER half a century of US hostility to Cuban independence ended yesterday when Barack Obama vowed to cancel an outdated approach that has failed to advance US interests.
Simultaneous press conferences by President Obama in Washington and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro in Havana signalled the official beginning of a new bilateral relationship.
But the fruits of that new dawn had already been tasted by the families of three Cuban patriots held unjustly for 16 years in US prisons who were flown to their homeland.
Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino were able to enjoy the freedom previously savoured by fellow Miami 5 members Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, who were released in 2014 and 2011 respectively.
Similar joy was experienced by the family of US agent Alan Gross, who was jailed in Havana five years ago for working on a secretive USAid contract to build an internet communications network under the noses of the Cuban government.
He has been held in hospital since his conviction and has previously expressed his bitterness at being duped by USAid and abandoned by his government.
Washington also released three other people convicted of spying for Cuba — Ana Belen Montes, Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers — while Havana freed an unnamed US intelligence asset of non-US citizenship who had been held for 20 years.
President Castro welcomed the restoration of relations, but confirmed that profound differences remain between the two states in areas such as human rights, foreign policy and sovereignty.
But he said that countries have to learn to live with their differences “in a civilised manner.”
President Obama told his audience: “Isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.”
The US will reopen an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges. Washington is also easing travel restrictions for family visits, official US government businewss and educational activities, although tourism remains banned.
Licensed US travellers will be able to return to the US with $400 (£256) in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 (£64). This means the ban on Cuban cigars is over, but with limits.
The amount US citizens can send to Cuba will also quadruple to $2,000 (£1,279) every three months.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed the announcement as a “rare, if overdue, example of common sense prevailing over petty politics.
“We are delighted that the remaining members of the Cuban Five are free and will be able to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, from whom they have for too long been kept apart.”
She hoped that President Obama would “move immediately to end the decades-long illegal embargo which has blighted so many lives.”
Cuba Solidarity Campaign director Rob Miller was overjoyed by the return of the Cuban patriots to their homeland, saying: “It’s absolutely brilliant news for everybody.”
He added: “We couldn’t have hoped for it to come so quickly, but we were optimistic that, in Obama’s last period of office, he would move to create better relations with Cuba.
“We’re celebrating right now. We’ll be joining the Cuban people in every way we can to celebrate.”
A few pictures of the emotional return of the Miami 5 Cubans to Havana Cuba after incarceration in the USA as political prisoners for fighting US-based terrorism.
The Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign jointly welcome the release of the three remaining Miami Five prisoners unjustly held by the United States for the past sixteen years. This act demonstrates the effectiveness of the world-wide campaign for their release and the efforts of the Cuban government, with the assistance of Pope Francis, to restore diplomatic relations with the US. At the same time the illegal US trade embargo against Cuba continues. Despite repeated condemnation by the United Nations, this penalises all countries and companies that seek to trade with Cuba.
We also note and condemn the Bill passed by the US Congress this week placing new sanctions on Venezuela in addition to those imposed earlier in the year. Like the trade blockade on Cuba, these sanctions seek use economic warfare against people – in this case worsening the already serious impact of the fall in oil prices on Venezuela’s main export. We call on Scottish MSPs and MPs and all trade union and progressive organisations to call on the British government to oppose these sanctions and to step up the demand for an end to the US trade embargo on Cuba.
Cuba and Venezuela have demonstrated that another world is possible. Health and education are universal free benefits for all. Highly trained workers freely offer their skills and resources to countries in need including Pakistan, Haiti, and currently during the Ebola crisis.
Our Scottish solidarity work is enormously heartened by the good news but given a clear mandate to continue our efforts by the ongoing challenges.
Please ensure that your membership of both vital organisations is current and that all your networks are linked to our campaigns and updates. If not, please sign up as soon as possible and contact us for any assistance.
Our solidarity work has made a difference, with motions debated in Scottish Parliament, our welcome to speakers from Cuba and Venezuela including family of Miami 5, our support for brigades and delegations, our stalls at conferences and events, and our joint work with all sectors of Scottish civic society including the Arts, Students, Faith Groups, and more.
The struggle continues, and whilst we celebrate the reunion of the Miami 5 with their loved ones in Cuba, we deplore the ongoing sanctions and hostilities towards the working people of two sovereign nations that are not USA's backyard.
Phil McGarry - Chair, Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Vicky Grandon - Chair, Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign
After 16 years of unjust imprisonment in US jails all of the Miami Five are now free and at home with their families in Cuba. On Wednesday 17 December, Cuba and the United States announced that a prisoner exchange would take place which would see Antonio, Gerardo and Ramon released and back home in Cuba.
This is wonderful news for the Five, their families and friends, all the thousands of peoples throughout the world who campaigned for who campaigned for their release and the Cuban people themselves..
It is to be hoped that this is the beginning of the end of the past fifty year's policy of aggression and blockade, and ushers in the start of friendly relations between the two countries.
President Raul Castro and President Obama announced the beginning of the normalisation of relations between Cuba and the US.
Raul said, " We have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations,but this does not mean that the main issue has been resolved, the Blockade that generates economic losses and humanitarian problems in our country must stop."
Elaine Smith, Convener of the Cross Party Group on Cuba in the Scottish Parliament said "I am delighted that the remaining three Miami Five detainees have been released following their unfair detention. I hope that following this miscarriage of justice they are reunited with their families as quickly as possible. Their fifteen year incarceration has been inhumane and intolerable for the Five and their families and I am hopeful that this reported start of normalising diplomatic ties will pave the way to seeing an end to the economic blockade. This decision is long overdue”
Many, many thanks to our members and supporters, along with others across the world for their work for the Release of the Five, and an end to the Blockade.
Commenting on the news that remaining three Cuban prisoners held in Miami have been released Grahame Smith STUC General Secretary says:
“The STUC has long campaigned for the release of the Miami Five and are glad to see that, at last, the prisoners have now gained their freedom. The release of the three remaining Miami Five, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, along with the release of Alan Goss by Cuba, marks a positive step forward in the normalisation of relations between these states.
The STUC congratulates all those who have campaigned to overturn the miscarriage of justice that led to the imprisonment of the Miami Five and all those who have fought for better relations between Cuba and the US for the last 50 years.”