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BBC broadcast full debate
09 May 2012


On Wednesday 9th May the Scottish Parliament hosted a historic debate on the Miami Five. The debate – believed to be the first time a national legislature outside Cuba has dedicated a whole parliamentary session to the issue of the Five – coincided with Glasgow hosting the Beyond the Frame exhibition of contemporary Cuban art.

The first ever debate on Cuba at Holyrood – moved by Labour MSP Elaine Smith – also discussed opposition to the U.S. blockade and championed greater cultural, economic and political co-operation between Scotland and Cuba.

The Cuban Ambassador to the UK, Esther Armenteros, was in the national parliament to hear the debate alongside Rosa Aurora Freijanes Coca – the wife of Miami Five prisoner Fernando Gonzalez – and Antonio Guerrero – the son of Miami Five prisoner Antonio Guerrero. Rosa remarked that she was “completely delighted” that the issue was debated because it helped take the campaign to a “new level”.

Elaine Smith MSP told parliament that the Miami Five had suffered a “miscarriage of justice” and were innocent men being used by the U.S. as “pawns in a political game”. She called for an end to the 50-year old economic blockade of Cuba, declaring it a “Cold War relic that should be consigned to the dustbin of history”.

Smith congratulated the UK government for signing a formal Declaration of Co-operation with Cuba last year and urged the Scottish government to do the same on devolved areas.

Smith spoke alongside MSPs from the Labour Party and Scottish National Party. SNP MSP Sandra White declared that “Cuba is a world leader in its health service and its education establishments. We can all learn from that and we must tell the rest of the world that the blockade is absolutely insane, not just for Cuba but for the rest of the world and America in particular”.

Labour’s Hugh Henry described the United States’ attitude towards Cuba as “mean-spirited, inconsistent and irrational” whilst Neil Findlay (Lab) argued that the U.S. victimised Cuba because the island had the temerity to “offer an alternative route, based on equality, humanity and justice”. Both Henry and Findlay praised Cuba’s internationalism including the exporting of medicines, doctors, nurses and teachers.

Parliamentary Business Minister Brian Adam closed the debate saying, “encouraging and growing cultural, educational and economic links between our two countries… is certainly on the Government’s agenda”.

Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, welcomed the debate saying:

“This is a historic moment in the Miami Five campaign. The fact that a national parliament – which represents over five million citizens – has officially recognised the injustice the Miami Five have suffered, represents a significant breakthrough in the ongoing struggle for their freedom”.

Miami Five prisoner Gerardo Hernandez – writing from Victorville Federal Prison in California – said that “throughout all these years of unjust imprisonment we have received many examples of support to our cause by friends from Scotland”. He went on to thank, “our brothers and sisters in Scotland to whom we extend our deepest gratitude.”

The debate has received nationwide media attention with the BBC’s Democracy Live website featuring a full recording of the session.

Watch the BBC video:
Read the full parliamentary report of the session:


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