Mark Durkan

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Mark Durkan

Miami Five Freedom Tour

After sixteen years in US jails, and a two year battle against the Home Secretary for visas to visit Britain, Cuban spies Rene Gonazalez and Gerardo Hernandez finally touched down on UK soil in the early hours of Friday 7 July 2016.

In the short time they were here for the Miami Five Freedom Tour, the two Cuban intelligence officers travelled more than 2,000 miles to speak at the most prestigious events in the British trade union and labour movement calendar.


The men and their families were warmly received at a joint Cuba Solidarity Campaign and All Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba parliamentary reception in the Jubilee Room in the Houses of Parliament. Parliamentarians from a broad range of parties attended including Labour, Conservatives, SNP, Sinn Fein and SDLP.

The reception was well attended by members of both the Commons and the Lords, with guests including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Cat Smith, Ian Lavery, Catherine West, Chris Matheson, Chris Williamson, Richard Burgon, Francie Molloy, Chris Stephens, Mike Weir, Mark Durkan, Baroness Angela Smith, Baroness Gloria Hopper and Lord Richard Balfe.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell campaigned tirelessly for the freedom for the Miami Five whilst backbench MPs and have continued their support since becoming Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Chancellor. They were both leading names in the campaign for visas for the Five and their involvement was instrumental in the eleventh hour visa victory. Speaking at the reception, [[Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to “all those who campaigned for their freedom and attended the vigils outside the US embassy” over the years, many at which he had spoken.

Baroness Angela Smith, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, hosted the event with Shadow Minister and chair of the APPG on Cuba, Cat Smith MP. Baroness Smith said: “The fact that the Five are free and here today shows that when we organise, when we campaign and when we fight together - we can win.”[1]