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The changing Cuban labour climate and an update on the status of the Cuban five were on the agenda as CUPE National President Paul Moist met with a delegation of Cuban trade unionists recently in Ottawa.

The delegation is meeting with labour leaders in Ottawa before heading to Toronto to participate in Breaking the Silence - a Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly. The event is part of an international effort to release five Cubans from US prisons.

Breaking the Silence starts Friday, Sept. 21 to 23 at City Hall in Toronto. Find out how you can participate.

In 1998 the Cuban five – René González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando González – were falsely charged and wrongly convicted in a Miami courtroom of “conspiracy to commit espionage” against the U.S. on behalf of the Cuban government.

These five Cubans are currently being held in separate U.S. prisons, often in solitary confinement. Their conviction is highly disputed, as they claim they were on a mission to monitor and report on violent groups in Miami—groups well known by the U.S. government to be responsible for terrorist acts against the Cuban people. In 2010 an appeal was filed when new evidence emerged that could potentially lead to the release of the five detained Cubans. 

The Cuban delegation includedAdriana Perez and Elizabeth Palmeiro, two of the wives of the Cuban Five, the Cuban Ambassador Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, Raymundo Navarro a member of the national secretariat of the Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions, Abelardo Paison Reyes of the SNTECD (Education Workers Union), Milexsy Guisado Faez of SNTAP (Public Administration Workers Union), and Don Foreman from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Pablo Godoy of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

The group thanked CUPE for this support and asked that we continue to support the Cuban five in their struggle for freedom and justice.

CUPE National and CUPE BC are currently working on a project with SNTAP, the National Union of Public Sector Workers (in Cuba), called Strengthening Solidarity Between Cuban Public Sector Unions and CUPE