Cuban 5: International Commission highlights – photos, videos and reports
March 20, 2014 Leave a comment
More than 2,000 people attended the International Commission of Inquiry and associated events for the Cuban Five in London earlier this month. Full reports, photos and films will be available soon, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights.
As well as two days of Commission hearings, associated events included a parliamentary meeting, international concert and closing dinner.
Family members, international guests and public observers at the International Inquiry
Over 300 people from 27 countries congregated in London’s Law Society on 7-8 March to hear moving and powerful testimony from 20 expert witnesses into the case of the Cuban Five. You can read a more detailed report from the Commission here.
René González was due to be a key witness but was denied a visa on the day he was due to fly from Havana by the British government. Despite this further injustice René was able to give his testimony to the Commission via Skype and received a standing ovation from delegates in the hall when he appeared on the screen.
The Commission heard testimony form René González via Skype
Three Commissioners presided over six sessions which heard compelling evidence from Cuban victims of terrorism, the families of the five, US legal experts and members of the defense team, and Amnesty International. The Commissioners’ Preliminary Conclusions can be read here, and their final report will be published on the Voices for the Five site within a few weeks.
Voices for Cuba Concert and associated events
As well as the central events of the Commission hearings there were a number of other important activities including a parliamentary meeting, concert and closing meal.
US author Alice Walker and ten British actors during the spoken word section of the Voices for Cuba concert dedicated to Five and their families
Almost 2,000 people attended a spectacular concert at the Barbican Centre on Friday evening featuring stars of the Buena Vista Social Club Eliades Ochoa and Omara Portuondo , Omar Puente’s Cuban jazz quintet, and spoken word from US author Alice Walker and ten British stars of stage and screen. Standing in for her father, Irmita, daughter of René González, moved many in the audience to tears with an emotional speech.
Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa performing together at the Voices for Cuba Concert
The evening ended with a fabulous and impromptu rendition of the beautiful Cuban anthem ‘Guantanamera’ which saw thousands standing, dancing and singing along as Omara Portuondo sang the words "Volveran" and "They will return" as she left the stage.
The weekend ended with a closing meal at Congress House, which was addressed by British trade union leaders, and also by René González via a specially prerecorded message for the event.
We will write again to let you know when the final report, and more photos, films and testimonies are up on the Voices for the Five site.
A huge thanks is due to everyone who attended and/or supported the International Commission. A full list of donors and sponsors are listed here, and there is still time to support the Commission and have your name included as a supporter by donating here.
There are now more than 5,800 names in support of the Five on the Voices for the Five website? If you have not done so already, please add your name and message of support at http://www.voicesforthefive.com/upload/
Thank you from all at the Voices for the Five and Cuba Solidarity Campaign team