Court of Appeal rules that René González can come to Britain

The Court of Appeal has overturned the Home Office decision to deny René González, a member of the Cuban Five, a visa to enter Britain.

An historic ruling by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday 10 November has opened the door for Mr González to visit Britain, despite twice being denied a visa to visit by the British government in 2014.

René’s second invitation to Britain was issued by MPs in July 2014, requesting that he attend a meeting in Parliament to discuss the case of the Miami Five. After the government denied him a visa, a group of 28 MPs — including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell — appealed the decision by writing to judges to state that the Home Office was violating the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal ruled that the refusals breached the freedom to receive and impart information under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The judges also refused to let the Home Office appeal against their decision at the Supreme Court.

Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign welcomed the news saying:
“This is a great victory for all those who campaigned for freedom and justice for the Miami Five. Campaigners in Britain celebrated the release of the final members of the Five in December 2014, but have had to sit back and watch them visit many other European countries including France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Russia, Italy, yet not Britain — a country where campaigners, trade unions and parliamentarians did so much to support the international campaign for their release. We hope that this decision means we can now look forward to welcoming Mr González, the other four heroes — Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labañino, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero — and their families in Britain as soon as possible.”
Responding to the decision Dave Anderson MP said:
“This is great news. René and his comrades have been treated disgracefully for far too long and, even now, it's sad to see that some still can't see the wood for the trees and still look to hand out some sort of retribution. Well done to all concerned in this victory.”
Mark Durkan MP, also named in the appeal said:
"International democratic support was part of The Miami Five's fight for their freedom. Having won release, it was a ridiculous travesty for René González to then be denied freedom of entry here and freedom of expression to parliamentarians. It should not have taken the courts to overturn this visa decision and uphold the due rights of René and parliamentarians against an unfounded denial of a visa. An important point has been won for another dimension of freedom”.
Pádraig Hughes from Public Interest Lawyers who acted on behalf of the MPs welcomed the judgment, noting that: 

“By finding that interference with freedom of expression should not occur without proper justification, the Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment is vitally important in upholding the rule of law. The Lord Justices have rightly recognised the fundamental importance of political discussions and recognised that when a distinguished group of parliamentarians wishes, in the interests of democracy, to conduct a face-to-face exchange with someone whose views they consider to be of critical importance, only evidence of the most compelling kind will be sufficient to deny them their right to do so.”
Steve Turner, Unite Assistant General Secretary said: 
“This is a great victory for the legislature against an overbearing executive, led by Cameron and May. René González represents no threat to national security, as claimed by the Government. René is an example of a trade unionist who fell foul of a powerful government and as a result lost his freedom and missed out on his family life. It was right that we stood by René just as our union brothers and sisters around the globe stand up for UK workers in need. This case is completely different from invitations issued to racists and neo-fascists who clearly are a threat to public order. The political game-playing by the government who have tried to paint a decent man as a security threat has been appalling.”
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is grateful to Barrister Mark McDonald at Mansfield Chambers and all the legal teams for their work and support on this case.

Timor's new doctors

By 2014, 800 Cuban-trained Timorese doctors had graduated in Timor Leste. They bring new values to the country, a Timorese 'social medicine'.

Historic UN vote on blockade

special report

Landslide victory for Cuba at United Nations vote

On Tuesday 27 October, the United Nations General Assembly voted by 191-2 in support of a resolution calling for the end to the US blockade of Cuba.

Only the United States and Israel voted against all 191 other member states of the United Nations, in what marked the largest majority in favour of Cuba in the 24 year history of the annual votes against the blockade. Although the vote is non-binding, it sent a clear message to the United States government that it remains isolated from the rest of the world in its policy towards Cuba.

Despite the fact that Cuba and the US have re-established diplomatic relations, the United States continues its 54 year old blockade against the island which the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said had cost the island US$833.8 billion over the last five decades.

Although in his speech to the UN Rodriguez praised US President Obama for efforts to build relations between the two countries, he said that not enough had been done either by the President or Congress to end the blockade which remained very firmly in place:

“And facts show, crystal-clear, that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against Cuba is being fully and completely implemented.

“Ten months after the announcements made on December 17, no tangible, substantial modification has been introduced in the implementation of the blockade.

“Barely a week ago, a 1.116 billion dollar fine was imposed on the French bank Credit Agricole, which adds up to the 1.710 billion dollar fine imposed on the German bank Commerzbank in March this year for doing transactions with Cuba and other States.”

Speaking against the motion the US representative declared his country would vote against lifting the sanctions, saying that it was unfortunate that Cuba had presented a motion that was “almost identical” to the one the year before.

Country representatives from across the globe spoke in support of the Cuban resolution, praising the country for the international solidarity that it provided to many poor nations in the form of medical brigades and training, despite the effects of the blockade on its own economy.

“The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don’t give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo naval base,”
Rodriguez also focused on the human cost of the blockade in Cuba: “The embargo is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights of all Cubans,” he said. “It is contrary to international law ... It has been described as an act of genocide.”

Cuba’s report contained many examples of patients being denied medical treatment because of blockade laws including the case of children waiting for heart operations at the William Solar Paediatric Cardiology Centre who had to “undergo open -heart surgery, with greater risk of complications and mortality, and higher costs.”

Once again, the world condemns the blockade

"Hunger and desperation" are the point

Tuesday’s UN vote saw 191 countries support Cuba’s resolution against the blockade, with just the United States and Israel voting against. Unlike previously, this year there were no abstentions.
The resolution adopted by the General Assembly notes that the economic damage inflicted on the Cuban economy exceeds 8 billion
An important reminder of the underlying purpose of the blockade: bringing about "hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government."
State Dept memo on Cuba, written April 6, 1960:
“The majority of Cubans support Castro… the only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba… a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government”

Why is the US Government Persecuting the Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?

The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO/Pastors for Peace) has worked tirelessly so that someday U. S. international dealings would be based on peace and mutual respect. Now the Internal Revenue Service is about to remove the tax-exempt status of that non-profit, humanitarian group. In the words of the late Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., who founded the organization, IFCO wants a “people’s foreign policy.”

An IRS appeals officer in September signaled that the agency would be upholding a ruling from December 2013 revoking IFCO’s non-profit, tax-exempt status. IFCO has long stood in the forefront of efforts to establish decent U. S. relations with Cuba. The IRS action seems to stem from IFCO activities in that regard.

Under Rev. Walker’s leadership, IFCO transformed lessons learned from civil rights struggles to fashion tactics of non-violent civil disobedience to advance its work on Cuba. Annually for 23 years IFCO/Pastors for Peace, joined by supporters, has taken humanitarian aid to Cuba in purposeful violation of regulations governing the U. S. embargo against Cuba. Until now, ironically enough, federal authorities have done very little to impede the flow of IFCO aid material and delegations to the island.

The original IRS investigation that began in March 2011 had a very different agenda. Conservative congresspersons had complained to the IRS that IFCO in 2009 served as a fiscal sponsor for the U. S. branch of the British group Viva Palestina that at the time was helping to organize a humanitarian flotilla headed for Gaza. They alleged that IFCO was actually backing the Hamas political organization, and thereby terrorists.

IFCO Executive Director Gail Walker on October 3 reacted sharply to news that the IRS had rejected her organization’s appeal: the “attack by the U.S. government to rescind our nonprofit status is shocking and makes no sense in light of the significant moves of both the Obama and Castro administrations to normalize relations between our two countries.”

In fact IFCO has dedicated much of its work over two decades to ending the U. S. embargo against Cuba. More recently IFCO/Pastors for Peace has recruited and supported U.S. young people to become medical doctors through study, at no personal cost, at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine.

On October 3, an IFCO press release pointed out that the group is “one of the nation’s oldest faith-based civil rights organizations and the first ecumenical foundation founded by and for people of color.” That statement called upon the U. S. government “To stop bullying IFCO for helping the people of Cuba and allow us to continue our life-saving humanitarian work.”

IFCO asks for support and action on its behalf. In particular:
1 FAX or Telephone IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at Large Business and International Division, Attn: SE:LB, 1111 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20224, Phone: (202) 515-4400, Fax: (202) 622-5756

 2 FAX or Telephone, Secretary of Treasury Jacob J. Lew, Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Washington, D.C. 20220, Phone: (202) 622-2000, Fax: (202) 622-6415

(You may write them via regular mail, but FAX is better, says IFCO. A link is available to send a FAX: Use this.)

Click here to sign a petition which sends an email message to Commissioner John Koskinen, asking him to end this politically-motivated attack on IFCO. (and also to Pres. Obama and our friends in Congress — with one click)

Ernesto "Che" Guevara

June 14, 1928 - October 9, 1967

Its Time

To Bring These Murdering Thugs to Justice

Yesterday Cubans paid homage to the victims of the mid-air sabotage bombing of Cubana airlines Flight 455 off the coast of Barbados, on October 6th, 1976.

Once again the Cuban people condemn the terrorist action, and demand justice for the terrorism victims, who lost their lives in the horrendous attack.

As is already a tradition, Havana residents made a pilgrimage to the Cristóbal Colón Cemetery, where the remains of many of the victims of the Barbados sabotage bombing are interred.

On October 6th, 1976, CIA agents, Venezuelans Hernán Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, placed the bomb inside the Cuban civilian plane, on the expressed orders of notorious international terrorists of Cuban origin Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. Today, 39 years after the Barbados crime, Posada Carriles still walks the streets of Miami a free man.

Carriles, a self-confessed terrorist, is also accused of a series of sabotage bombings against tourist facilities in Havana in 1997, which claimed the life of an Italian tourist.