Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 44 Number 27, September 18, 2014 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

“Yes” to an Independent Scotland
Is a Vote for the Alternative!

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

“Yes” to an Independent Scotland Is a Vote for the Alternative!

Campaign against Denial to René González of a Visa to Visit Britain

New Report of International Commission of Inquiry

Parliamentary Meeting Protests at Visa Denial for René González

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“Yes” to an Independent Scotland
Is a Vote for the Alternative!

Call of RCPB(ML), September 18, 2014

Our Party gives the call, on behalf of the whole of the working class of England, Wales and Scotland, for the Scottish people to affirm their right to sovereignty and vote “Yes” on September 18.

This is an historic day for the working people of Scotland. It provides a very practical and decisive opportunity to open the door to progress and affirm the right of the Scottish people to determine their own future.

The issue in voting yes to an independent Scotland is not that this simple act will transform Scotland overnight into a country where all problems of nation-building and independence will magically disappear. But neither is it a block to working people of all countries strengthening their unity in struggle against the neo-liberal agenda and austerity programme which the international financial oligarchy and global monopoly interests seek to impose on nations and peoples everywhere.

Rather it is a declaration that the sovereign people of Scotland are determined to take their future into their own hands. It is a declaration that, as the published draft interim constitution of Scotland affirms, in Scotland the people are sovereign.

Thus a “Yes” vote opens a path to empowerment of the people, to the people being the decision-makers.

Even if the “No” vote should narrowly win, there is no going back. The high pitch of the debate around the issue of Scotland’s independence has shown that the people can conceive of an alternative to the dictate of capital and its programme of paying the rich and the wrecking of all aspects of society which serve the public good. It is an alternative which conceives of the future as defending the rights of all. A “Yes” vote to an independent Scotland is indeed a vote for this alternative!

Our Party calls on all workers to support and participate in the releasing of the initiative of the nation and people of Scotland in the project to define and build a modern sovereign state of Scotland, a state with a pro-social, pro-worker outlook that puts the question of rights, including the right to governance and the right to national self-determination, at the centre of its forward-looking project.

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"Yes" on the rocks on which Edinburgh Castle is built - "Yes" campaigners gather in Glasgow on the evening of September 17

This will have a profound effect not only in Scotland but throughout Britain also. Indeed, it will have a resonance globally, as peoples see that the backwardness and chauvinism of the English ruling class can be challenged and challenged effectively, and that the people can take matters into their own hands.

A modern sovereign state of Scotland can and must be defined by the people. This will put the renewal of the state arrangements on the table throughout Britain. It will shake up the dictate of the cartel parties, and open up the space for democratic renewal of the polity. The fight for sovereignty in Scotland will contribute to the fight for the sovereignty of the working class and people throughout Britain.

Vote “Yes” to an Independent Scotland!

Article Index


TUC Emergency motion E3:

Campaign against Denial to René González of a Visa to Visit Britain

Following the decision of the British government to deny René González a visa to visit Britain this month, the British trade union movement unanimously passed a motion pledging to protest at this decision during their annual Congress held from September 7-10 in Liverpool.

René, the first of the Cuban Five to have been released, was due to have addressed the TUC Congress in person on Wednesday, September 10, but instead was forced to record a video message for delegates after his visa was denied for the second time this year.

Rene is one of the five Cubans, known in Britain as the Miami Five, arrested in Miami in 1998 for trying to stop terrorist attacks against their homeland. He was denied a visa on the grounds that he had spent more than four years in a foreign prison. Yet despite the fact that the government can show discretion in certain circumstances, the fact that 29 MPs had invited him to speak at a meeting in parliament was ignored by the government during the legal appeal at this decision.

The motion was moved by Ivan Monckton from Unite and Kevin Courtney from the National Union of Teachers. The full text of the motion is reprinted below, and a film of all the speeches, including the video message can also be found on the link following.

Congress notes that:

  1. twenty-nine Members of Parliament have invited René González, the first of the Miami Five to be freed, to visit the UK this week

  2. he was due to speak to our Congress in Liverpool as well as at a meeting at the House of Commons

  3. the British government have denied a visa to René González

  4. despite three legal appeals, including a Judicial Review on Friday 5 September, the courts have refused to overturn the decision of the Home Secretary.

Mr González has received visas to visit other European Union countries including France and Portugal, meaning that Britain appears to be the only member state continuing to punish him and the campaign for the freedom of the remaining three members of the Miami Five.

Congress therefore urges the General Council to:

  1. protest this decision in the strongest possible terms directly to the Home Office and ask them to grant a visa to René González, a Cuban man who spent 13 years in a US jail for trying to defend his country against terrorism

  2. work with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and others to ensure that this ban is overturned and that René González is allowed to visit Britain as soon as possible.

Mover: Unite
Seconder: National Union of Teachers

Carried, September 10, 2014

Watch the video message of Rene Gonzalez plus the speeches in support of Emergency Motion 3 here

Emergency Meetings go ahead with Olga Salaneuva

Olga Salanueva, wife of released Cuban Five prisoner René González, spoke at emergency meetings on September 8-10 to protest at the British government’s denial of an entry visa for her husband.

René was due to speak at meetings in Liverpool and London to mark the 16th anniversary of the arrests of the Cuban Five. The first refusal to issue René a visa occurred on the eve of the Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five where he was to appear as chief witness. At that time in March 2014, legal appeals failed to overturn the ruling.

“Given the international significance of this case, it is vital that René is given every platform available to present the case of the Five and to pursue, world-wide, the case for justice and freedom for the three remaining in US prisons,” stated the US Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Although René has not been allowed to attend the September meetings, the appeal process has not ended. The next stage of the legal process is already underway and activists are working to ensure that strong opposition to the visa denial is expressed.

Rene is currently in the middle of visits to Portugal and France, both countries having granted him a visa without issue.

Emergency meetings with Olga Salanueva took place at a CSC Fringe meeting, TUC Congress Liverpool, September 8, with guest speakers Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary, Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary, and Bernard Regan, CSC National Secretary, in the presence of Esther Armenteros, Cuban Ambassador; and on September 10 at the House of Commons, hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP, with Baroness Angela Smith, and Elizabeth Woodcraft and Sara Chandler, who are barristers and Coordinators of International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Five.

The new report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five was available at the emergency meetings.

See the articles below reproduced from the website of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

Article Index


New Report of International Commission of Inquiry

This report will help impress upon the US authorities that legal opinion amongst some of the world's most distinguished judges considers that the only just resolution of our case is for a complete and unconditional release of our three brothers remaining in prison.” - René González, first of Cuban Five to be released

The report of the proceedings of the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Miami Five, held at the Law Society in London in March 2014, is now available in a new publication.

The two Commission Coordinators, Sara Chandler, chair of the Law Society Human Rights Committee and leading barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft launched the report at a packed meeting at the House of Commons in London on 10 September, hosted by Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn and Baroness Angela Smith.

Olga Salanueva, wife of René González, the featured speaker at the London meeting, recounted the latest visa denial by the British Government banning her husband from entering the country.

In a 44-page magazine format, written in English and Spanish, the outstanding success of the Commission and its associated events is recorded. It presents the concluding statements of the three presiding judges Yogesh Sabharwal, Zak Yacoob, and Philippe Texier, who, after hearing two days of testimony from witnesses, called upon President Barack Obama to grant “unconditional pardons” to the Five and to release “immediately and unconditionally” the three who remain in prison.

“This report will help impress upon the US authorities that legal opinion amongst some of the world's most distinguished judges considers that the only just resolution of our case is for a complete and unconditional release of our three brothers remaining in prison,” said René González, first of Cuban Five to be released

The report also records highlights from the Commission proceedings with special mention of the testimony from Amnesty International that focussed on the unfairness of the trial and, recognising the urgency of the case, pledged to continue to appeal for justice.

A section of the Commission report recounts how the British government refused key witness René González entry into the UK. The launch events were due to be attended by René González but he has again been banned from entering the UK.

Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and one of the organisers of the Commission said

“It is ridiculous that René is able to attend events in Portugal and France this week but has again been banned and is not allowed a visa to come here to meet with MPs and help with the launch of this report. Britain looks destined to become the only European country to which René is denied entry. We will continue to campaign vehemently against this extra ‘unilateral’ punishment to René as well as to campaign for justice for the Five.”

The report is illustrated with numerous photographs bringing to mind the intensity of these days of concerted activity – from the concert and dramatic readings performed at London's prestigious Barbican Centre in front of an audience of 2000, two panel discussions, an exhibition of the paintings of Miami 5 prisoner Antonio Guerrero, as well as the closing dinner. Also featured are words from special guests such as novelist Alice Walker, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and former President of the Cuban parliament, Ricardo Alarcón.

The success of the Commission would not have been possible without the broad support it enjoyed, more than evident in a list of the internationally renowned personalities drawn from many countries who endorsed this initiative including actor Emma Thompson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, international fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and writers such as John Le Carré, Günther Grass and Fernando Morais. Report and full testimonies of all the witnesses available at the website Voices for the Five which was instrumental in organising the Commission of Inquiry:

Please circulate the report to raise awareness around the campaign for justice for the Five.

Article Index


Parliamentary Meeting Protests at Visa Denial for René González

At a packed Peel Room in the House of Commons, Ambassadors, MPs, celebrities, academics, legal experts and campaigners warmly welcomed the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five whilst slamming the UK government for refusing again to allow René González (the first of the Five to be released) into the UK.

Baroness Angela Smith chairing the meeting felt “insulted by the refusal to allow a speaker into the house who had been invited by 29 Parliamentarians”. René is currently visiting Europe where no other country has made any objections to his entry.

It was left again to René’s wife Olga to represent the Five and to thank everyone for their solidarity. Praising the Cuba Solidarity Campaign for always being the first to campaign, open new doors and avenues for seeking the Five’s release, smiling she said, “Even in such a cold climate we have never known such human warmth as you give us.” Denouncing what she called “this whole shameful affair” Olga described how “the government of the United States has colluded with the Courts to violate US law”. She said, “Key charges were never proved and yet three very long sentences were handed down in what we can show are political cases.” Referring to the United Nations Committee on Arbitrary detentions decision in 2005 as evidence of their unfair imprisonment she demanded to know: “Why is it that three years ago we had a special appeal on this issue and so far no response from the US judge?”

Thanking the Cuba Solidarity Campaign again for their support she said the families have lost some strength as two mothers, one father and one brother have died over the last 16 years but children have grown up and new members of the family have been born.

“We are a big family and you are part of it too. Wherever we cannot fill a gap there is yourselves” she said to applause. “I am an optimist,” she declared, “and before Obama leaves we will secure the release of the remaining three and extend the joy that I feel with all the other families.”

Waving the Commission report Baroness Smith stressed, “If you ever need for any arguments about the case it is all in here.” Professor Sara Chandler, one of the Commission Co-ordinators, went through the key elements of the report highlighting the illegal detention, the trial, human rights abuses, witness testimony and the detailed legal findings of the Commissioners.

Barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft, also a Commission Co-ordinator, explained how René was denied entry for the second time to the UK because of a rule that says you cannot enter “if you have a criminal conviction of 4 years or over”. However this can be waived in “exceptional, compelling or compassionate” circumstances.

The refusal decision was appealed on the September 4, turned down and heard again at a final appeal the next day in front of three judges at the High Court. Barrister Mark Macdonald represented René and secured a decision that has interesting implications. As the government was not there to be represented, the three judges have asked for a further hearing for the government to explain its reasoning. The judges will want to know why there are no circumstances that could not allow the rule to be waived and the invitation of 29 Parliamentarians allowed to go ahead. We could therefore now see the UK courts having a debate about the legality of the Five’s trial in the US ensuring that “more and more people will get to know about this case” said Baroness Smith.

Jeremy Corbyn MP praised the bravery and dignity of the Five and stressed the importance of our efforts. Commenting on the importance of contacting MPs, attending vigils, letting the families know of our support he looked forward to the time when all the Five and their families can come for tea on the House of Commons terrace and we can all celebrate with Olga the end of this horrific injustice.

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