From 9-12 March, the British Cuba Solidarity Campaign was present at the USW (United Steel Workers) Women of Steel conference in Pittsburgh, USA, to raise awareness and support for the campaign for Justice for the Miami Five and their families.
Following on from the successful presence at the SEIU Convention in May 2012, this was only the second time that a major US union had provided stall space to raise awareness about the five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the US for fighting terrorism.
Thanks to the relationship between the USW and their sister union in Britain, Unite, hundreds of leaflets, DVDs, action cards and badges were handed out to the 800 women delegates from all over the United States and Canada. The Women of Steel conference is the largest gathering of women trade unionists in North America.
For the past three years, Unite and CSC have run delegations to Cuba, enabling US trade unionists to meet with the families of the Five and take up their fight for justice within the US.
Running the stall at the USW conference were Natasha Hickman, from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in Britain, and Alicia Jrapko from the International Committee for Freedom for the Five in the US. During the conference they were able to speak to hundreds of delegates many of whom had never heard of the case of the Five before.
Unite the union delegate to the Women of Steel conference, Karen Cole, was also able to raise the case of in the final plenary session, the first time that it had ever been mentioned in a main conference plenary in the US:
"On behalf of Unite I would like to thank the USW for what they have done to raise awareness of the case of the Cuban Five in Canada and the USA.
"The fight for justice for these five Cuban men, unjustly imprisoned in US jails, and for visitation rights for two of their wives who have been denied visas to visit them for 15 years is well known within Unite the Union and all British unions, and the USW is helping us to break the silence around this case in the USA where there is little knowledge about this miscarriage of justice.
"I also want to thank the USW in Canada who have invited Adriana Perez, the wife of one of the Five, to attend their National Policy Conference in Vancouver next month. Karen concluded by asking delegates to read the materials they had been given and sign the action card to President Obama. CSC would like to thank Unite and the USW for making this possible, and helping us break the silence and take the message to hundreds."
March 19, 2013