In just a few months, an incredible 125 MPs have signed Early Day Motion 497 – Humanitarian Appeal for Visitation Rights for Wives of the Miami Five – in what is already the most successful parliamentary action ever in support of the Miami Five.
Ten years ago, 112 MPs signed an EDM which expressed concern at the arrest, trial and incarceration of the Five, however, with fewer Labour MPs now in parliament – and convention now preventing members of the Shadow Cabinet from signing EDMs – the accumulation of so many signatures for EDM 497 is truly remarkable and testimony to the tremendous effort of CSC supporters and activists.
Over 1000 of you have written to your MP using our online campaign website – and hundreds more have sent postcards to their representative in Westminster. Local CSC groups have organised letter-writing campaigns to their MPs and many have visited their representatives at constituency surgeries.
The overwhelming level of parliamentary support is a direct result of activists lobbying their MP to support the motion. GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny and CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes wrote to MPs on behalf of the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation urging MPs to sign the EDM to put pressure on the U.S. administration to show compassion.
“With the re-election of President Obama, there is a real opportunity now to show that the international community has not forgotten about the Five and their families,” they said.
427 MPs have been contacted through our website – nearly 30% of whom have signed the EDM – but, with 650 parliamentarians sitting in the House of Commons, this means 223 MPs have still not been written to. There is still much more do be done and, with your help, we hope to reach these MPs and increase the number even more.
Every single political party sitting in the House of Commons is represented and – out of over 1000 EDMs active in this parliamentary session – EDM 497 is the sixth most supported motion and the highest EDM on an international issue.
Michael Connarty MP – who tabled EDM 497 – marked the gaining of the 100th signature last year by writing to President Obama appealing for him to make a humanitarian gesture by granting visitation rights to Olga and Adriana.
Michael told CSC:
“Gaining the support of 100 MPs shows the strength of feeling in Parliament. I’ve written personally to President Obama and people who support the campaign could back that up with their own letters pointing out how many MPs want him to do the right thing. Prisoners and their families must be allowed their rights as human beings. I hope President Obama will restore dignity and honour to the name of America by granting visiting rights to those currently denied them.”
As a follow-up action, Baroness Angela Smith and Cathy Jamieson MP, Chair and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cuba, will be sending an Open Letter to the US Secretary of State John Kerry calling for visitation rights to be granted to Olga and Adriana. This action comes at a key juncture following Obama’s re-election as President and John Kerry’s appointment. Over 50 members of the House of Commons and House of Lords have already committed to supporting the Open Letter which will be coincided with further parliamentary and lobbying work in the UK.
CSC would like to thank everyone who has written to their MP already and hope, if you haven’t done so already, you will take the time to do so now. If you haven’t heard back from your MP, please follow-up your initial email or letter.
Response from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Many of you have forwarded us correspondence received from your MPs or from the Foreign Office – please continue to do so. A standard reply from the Foreign Office declares:
“We are aware of the concerns here in the UK regarding access for Mrs Perez and Mrs Salanueva, and I can understand how welcome it must have been for Mrs Salanueva to see her husband, Rene Gonzalez, when he was allowed to visit Cuba for two weeks earlier this year on humanitarian grounds.”
This statement requires contextualisation as it wrongly implies that Rene was allowed to visit Cuba to see his wife. This is incorrect – and irrelevant to the argument for granting visitation rights to Olga and Adriana – as Rene was actually allowed to return to visit his terminally ill brother.
Forwarded correspondence suggests that many MPs who have refused to sign EDM 497 have done so on the grounds that visitation rights “are a bilateral issue between the U.S. and Cuba”. This is technically true, however, with legal avenues virtually exhausted, it is only through international political action that the Miami Five will receive justice. That is why we need to build the pressure of international condemnation by increasing the number of MPs that support this action.
WHAT YOU CAN DO...
Please help us in our campaign to win visitation rights for Olga and Adriana:
Order copies of the EDM action card to distribute amongst colleagues at branch meetings and events. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8800 0155 for more information
Chase your MP if you do not receive a satisfactory response
If they say they can’t sign EDMs, ask them to sign the open letter instead