British Unionists Support Cuban Five

The recent Congress of the British peak labour organisation, the Trade Union Congress has signaled its solidarity with and support of the Cuban Five in their struggle for justice in the US legal system.

The Cuban Five are serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively, after being wrongly convicted in a US federal court in Miami on 8 June 2001. The Five were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their own country and never directed action at the US government. For 40 years, anti-Cuba terrorist organisations based in Miami have engaged in terrorist activities against Cuba, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths of Cubans, with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.

The resolution deplored the continued imprisonment of the Five and noted the 2008 Amnesty International report’s condemnation of the appeal process and the denial of the human right of visitation rights to the families of the Five.

In recognising the work of the (UK) Cuba Solidarity Campaign the Congress urged continued support of the Solidarity Campaigns’ defense of the Five and called for a prompt retrial in a venue other than Miami, full visitation rights for the families and urged continued engagement with US unions to bring further pressure on the US administration.

Cuba Solidarity Campaign had also hosted a fringe meeting at the congress at which Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, Tony Benn and Reynaldo Valdes Grillo, Deputy General Secretary, CTC (Cuba's TUC) spoke.


In a separate resolution the Congress resolved to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and its achievements and expressed support for the right of Cuba to choose its own economic, social and political path. It also opposed the USA's illegal economic blockade, noting that blockade had been condemned at the UN on sixteen consecutive occasions.

In light of the devastation of this year’s hurricane season Cuban workers have issued an appeal to their international brothers and sisters to intensify efforts to have the embargo lifted. A number of New Zealand unionists have indicated that they will be raising the issue with their own unions and with the NZCTU.

Recognition of Cuba's colossal contribution in international solidarity was also afforded. The 37,000 medical professionals working for free in 79 countries being specifically cited as was the provision of emergency aid in countries like Peru, Indonesia and Pakistan and the provision of 30,000 free scholarships to students from 21 countries to study in Cuba.

In expressing support for events marking the 50th anniversary, organised under the slogan Cuba50, the Congress agreed to call on its General Council to lobby the UK Government to end its complicity with the US blockade and move to an independent policy respecting Cuban sovereignty, improve trade and bilateral relations with Cuba; and oppose all US extraterritorial threats against UK-based companies


The Congress, having heard of the plight of organised Labour in Colombia from Tarsicio Mora Godoy, President of the Unitary Workers Central of Colombia, expressed its outrage at the increasing number of murders and the impunity that allows the killers of trade unionists to escape punishment.

So far this year 41 trade unionists have been assassinated, 4 forcibly disappeared, 4 displaced and 126 threatened. “What we are seeing” Mora noted “is systematic, permanent and selective violence, which can clearly be considered as political genocide against the trade union movement”

Congress delegates applauded the work of Justice for Colombia (JFC) to raise awareness about the situation in Colombia and to provide concrete support to trade unions in Colombia that are operating in such a harsh environment and called on the General Council to among other actions oppose ongoing UK military aid to Colombia and pressure the Government to use resources currently devoted to the Colombian security forces instead for social development, human rights and other projects that would benefit the Colombian people.
Other Information

Those interested in establishing a New Zealand Peace & Justice for Colombia or wish to get involved in the campaign to release imprisoned Columbian unionist Liliany Obando should email.