Late on Monday 3 March, just a few hours before he was due to fly from Havana to London, René González, was refused a visa to enter in the UK.
René González is the principal witnesses for the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five which takes place at the Law Society in London on 7 and 8 March.
In its letter of refusal, the UK Immigration and Visa Office states that it is due to point 320 (2b) of UK immigration law, which says entry can be denied to a person who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. Although, dispensation can be granted in exceptional circumstances, the UK government states that it does not consider Mr González’s attendance at the International Commission to be reason enough to justify this or “outweighed by the public interest in maintaining a refusal.”
Receiving Fernando at the airport was President Raúl Castro and high level figures of the Cuban Government. This was followed by an emotional embrace of Rene who he had not seen since the time of the trial in Miami in 2001.
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Today Fernando Gonzalez Llort will end the last day of his unjust 17 years plus 9 month sentence in prison.
During his long captivity he has remained in cold and distant prisons in various parts of the American geography. As an additional punishment Fernando was banned from receiving visits from friends and supporters. During all these years only his mother Magali Llort, his sisters Lourdes and Martha, his wife Rosa Aurora Freijanes and other family members were able to visit him. And even they averaged only one visit a year.
The lone exception was a single visit from the former Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton in March 2007. Despite this form of isolation Fernando, like his 4 brothers, received on a daily basis volumes of mail of solidarity that filled the mail rooms of the prisons.
Even though Fernando has fulfilled everyday of his sentence he will still have to go through a process of undetermined time before he will be able to enjoy his freedom surrounded by his love ones. This Thursday 27 February he will be taken from the Federal Correctional Prison in Safford Arizona to a federal immigration prison until his deportation back to Cuba.
Along with his family, the heroic people of Cuba, and the thousands of people in the international solidarity movement for the Cuban 5 we advocate that this last bit of injustice ends as swiftly as possible.
All the love, pride and respect of the entire island of Cuba is waiting for Fernando, a true Hero of the Republic of Cuba. His return will give more strength to the solidarity movement as he joins forces with Rene in leading the struggle to demand the freedom of Gerardo, Antonio and Ramon.
We will share a moment of joy with the family of Fernando upon his return and then we will multiply our commitment to continue the fight until the final return of the Five to Cuba.
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Message from the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouve
"To you, our eternal gratitude for your immense and constant support that makes us continue to be resistant and makes us taste our inevitable freedom each day." - Antonio Guerrero
Dear friends in the struggle to free our 5 Cuban Heroes,
The year 2013 has passed with great victories in the continued struggle to free our 5 heroes. As we look together towards 2014, we are sure that there will be many more victories and challenges in our campaign for justice.
Vancouver will honour our 100th consecutive monthly picket action in front of the U.S. Consulate for freedom for ALL of the 5 Cuban Heroes on March 5, 2014. On this important day, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver invites you to join with us by organizing an event in solidarity with the 100th picket and the Cuban 5 in your community. We know that with more unity, coordination and action , we are ever closer to the day when ALL of the Cuban 5 will be free.
René González, former Miami Five prisoner to attend London event 7 and 8 March 2014:
Alongside international personalities including Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, actors Martin Sheen and Emma Thompson
René González, the first and only member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States, has announced that he will come to London to give evidence to an International Commission of Inquiry on 7 and 8 March 2014.
The Miami Five are five Cuban men who were jailed in the US in 1998 for attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Caribbean island.
René will be joined in London by family members of the Five, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world, including Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Color Purple.
The Commission will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses, including US defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from international human rights organisation Amnesty International, and from Miami Five family members such as wives of the Five, Olga Salanueva and Elizabeth Palmeiro.
The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurists, including former Chief Justice of India Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, and Philippe Texier, the former Chair of the Supreme Court of France.
There will be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US-based terrorism.
In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said:
“When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause. Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke, because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong.”