Opinion Former Article

Unite: Labour Party issues conference credentials to women the Obama administration considers a "threat to US national security"

A Cuban women who has been refused a visa to enter the United States on ten separate occasions, most recently because she may pose a "threat to the safety or national security of the United States" will be mixing freely with British government ministers and speaking at a Free the Miami Five fringe meeting organised by Unite the Union at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton tomorrow (Tuesday, 29th September).

Adriana Perez, is in the UK this week to raise awareness for her fight to obtain a visa from the US government to visit her husband Gerardo Hernandez, who has been in a US jail for 11 years.

Mrs Perez has not been able to see her husband since he was imprisoned because the US government considers her a threat to their national security, a potential spy and illegal immigrant. Despite this, in the last year she has twice been granted entry visas to the UK, held meetings inside the Scottish parliament, and issued credentials to the Labour Party Conference where she has met and put her case to senior government ministers.

Unite joint general secretary, Derek Simpson, said: "This case represents a travesty of justice by the US government. To deny the families the right to visit their loved ones is totally inhumane."

Adriana is joined in the UK by Olga Salanueva, and Irma Gonzalez wife and daughter of Rene Gonzalez, another Cuban prisoner in the US. Rene and Gerardo are two of the Miami Five - five Cubans considered by many human rights campaigners to be unjustly imprisoned in US jails for fighting terrorism.

Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez have both been refused visas to visit their husbands in US jails for more than 10 and 11 years respectively.

As well as speaking at a Labour Party Conference fringe meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, 29th October), the women will be joining Michael Mansfield QC, MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Colin Burgon, and 15 trade union general secretaries and leaders at a vigil outside the US Embassy on Thursday 1st October from 6-7.30pm.

Speaking at the vigil, Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite will say: "Five men have spent over a decade in jail for defending their country against terrorism and everyday their families must serve cruel sentences of separation too. We call on the US authorities to uphold fundamental human rights. Give visiting rights and let these families be united once again."

Both meetings, which call for justice for the five men and visiting rights for their families, come just a few days after the 11th anniversary of their arrests in Florida. They were arrested on 12th September 1998 and charged with spying, shortly after they had passed information to the FBI about terrorist groups operating from Miami who were planning attacks against the Cuban people.

The vigil on Thursday, 1st October between 6pm-7.30pm, is an annual event organised by the UK Cuba Solidarity Campaign and Unite. Last year 500 people attended to show their support for the Miami Five.

Olga Salanueva, Adriana Perez and Irma Gonzalez are available for interviews from 28th September - 3rd October 2009.

For comments and interviews contact Natasha Hickman 07813 689 777 or Liane Groves, Unite press officer on 07793 661 657.

Notes to Editors:
Fringe meeting - Justice for the Miami 5
Unite/Cuba Solidarity Campaign

5.30pm, Tuesday 29 September at the Grand Hotel, Brighton

Chair: Tony Lloyd MP, Chair of Parliamentary Labour Party

Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary, Unite the union
Adriana Perez, Wife of one of Miami 5
Olga Salanueva, Wife of one of Miami 5

The Miami Five are five Cubans imprisoned in US jails since 1998 for trying to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and numerous legal, religious and human rights organisations have questioned the fairness of their trial and long sentences, and condemned the US government's persistent refusal to grant visas to allow two of their wives to visit.

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