Barbican Hall, London, March 7th, 20014.
The first time I came to London was the year 2007, I was very Young and I was already struggling very hard to raise awareness on this case. But I was a child when I lived through the night of my father’s arrest, the harassment in Miami and the absurd sentence given to him by the court. Years have passed and many vital events happened in my family, good ones and bad ones, but a constant thought was always in mind, ¨the wish for my father’s presence ¨.
I graduated and I dedicated that moment to him, I got married and the most important picture of the festivity was that of me speaking with him on the phone, I had a beautiful baby and named him after his grandpa who could only meet him a few months after his birth. And then my uncle and my grandfather died and we had to suffer knowing that my dad was struggling alone with his pain and grief.
Today I’m 29 and again I am in this city fighting for the freedom of those known by you as the ¨Miami Five¨, the only difference is that time has passed , grey hair is appearing on their faces and head and after accomplishing their full, extreme sentences, my father and Fernando have returned home. But they are not free, and us, their relatives are not relieved. Their three brothers or how I call them, my three uncles are still in prison.
Antonio’s mom, who is here right now, Mirtha, goes to bed every night wondering if she’ll make it to 2017 to see her son out of the Marianna Federal Prison. Ramon’s wife, Elizabeth, also here, has to wait for him to accomplish the same years my father accomplished in jail and Gerardo’s wife, Adriana could never see that day.
My reality has been the reality of six other children, and we can´t give up until their fathers are all home. Luckly we are not alone, I said before that I was here when I was very young and since then we have been receiving the support of many of you. This event is proof of how much effort and love you have invested on our behalf.
It is a real shame that my dad was denied a visa to come to address you. It might seem braggy coming from me, but you´ll be amaze to meet the honor, the courage, the strength and the kindness of a man that although has suffered unbearable actions against him and his family for so long, is capable of an easy smile and can care for any cause or anybody deserving it. That man hasn’t started enjoying his freedom, he doesn’t sleep enough, he doesn’t take the time to savor the things and the people he loves and missed the most and we understand but we worry. He is still behind bars and he’ll behave like that until his brothers are released. He won’t stop working and thinking of ways to make that be. But I want to stop worrying about him, I want to stop this feeling of sadness that has been on my backpack since I was six years old and my father had to leave home to stop terrorism. I want our five families to finally have a moment without hoping for the presence of three of their most important members.
I want my families to be happy, it’s been too much, today I was not suppose to be sad, today I thought I was not going to wish for my dad´s presence, today he should have been here to witness the solidarity and warmth I felt since that year when I met many of you. But it seems that there are still some people who want to make him pay even further for the sole crime of saving lives.
My only comfort comes with the hope, that perhaps, very soon, because of the efforts from the people and organizations that have made this concert and commission possible, and others sitting here that will join them after tonight. My father will be able to thank you as he asked me to do on his behalf, but personally and most importantly side by side with his four brothers, Ramon, Gerardo, Fernando and Tony.
Thank you very much.
Irmita Gonzalez Salanueva.