Managing a modern law firm is all about running a business – everything from budgets to human resources to IT. That is of course inevitable and any firm that doesn’t function as a business enterprise is not going to last long.
But every now and then something happens to remind us all why we became lawyers in the first place – to fight injustice.
That happened last Friday when I met Elizabeth, Olga, Adriana and Rosa; wives of the group of Cuban men known as the Miami 5. This was at a dinner in Liverpool organised by EAD , Unite and Cuba Solidarity .
Their story is both tragic and scandalous. For many years from the 1960s there was a series of terrorist attacks on Cuba. These were carried out by right wing exiles in Florida. Several thousand Cubans had been killed and the incidents including bringing down a Cuban plane. They arrived in Florida with the sole purpose of infiltrating these terrorist groups in order to stop the atrocities. But they were arrested by Florida officials, subjected to a trial in front of a hostile Florida jury despite many requests for a neutral venue to secure a fair trial. They were duly convicted and given punitive sentences from many years to life.
But the injustice does not stop there. They have been denied contact with their families and the wives have had requests for visits routinely refused. Amnesty International is one of a number or organisations who have campaigned for fair treatment.
There is a certain irony that the nation who have led the so called war on terror have imprisoned men whose only aim was to defend their own people from similar attacks. It is also ironic that country who co-drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – described by Eleanor Roosevelt as her greatest achievement – disregards it when it wants to. In particular what happened to the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment or the right to family life? And that is before we start of the unfairness of the trial itself!
These men have been the subject of a massive and continuing injustice. It is one that does not attract great publicity because of the power of the USA and its dislike of the Cuban regime. But leaving aside politics it is simply injustice – full stop.
I am proud that EAD supports their campaign and was recently involved in an art exhibition to highlight their plight –
But any effective moves to secure their release and fair treatment will have to come from the USA itself and I certainly hope that movements over there will lead eventually to a outcome which is just and fair. I would also encourage as many as possible to support this cause.