Union Leader Santos Crespo Sends Letter to Obama in Support of the Five

Santos Crespo Santos Crespo is the President of Local 372 since June 2011. Local 372 represents nearly 25,000 Department of Education employees who provide essential support services to the 1.1 million children – and their families – in New York City public schools.  Local 372 members, who are sometimes referred to as “non-pedagogical” employees because they are non-teaching staff, work in the cafeterias handling food and monitoring children in schoolyards to ensure their safety, in classrooms providing anti-violence/gang and drug prevention counseling, in homeless shelters to ensure that parents send their children to school despite living in a shelter, on trucks bringing supplies to the schools. Local 372 is the largest union within DC 37, which is the largest municipal union in New York City.

May 5, 2013

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As a worker and life time union leader who has lived by the motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all”, I am asking you to take the moral high road towards justice by releasing the Cuban 5 who are serving shocking long sentences in U.S. prisons. As you know these five Cuban men — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez came to this country to monitor the activities of anti Cuban terrorists in Miami. They came unarmed with no intention of harming the people or security of the U.S. but rather to protect their own island nation; what could be nobler. As a compassionate person you not only have the power but the responsibility to reunite them with their families in Cuba.

The labor movement around the world has had the opportunity to meet the family members of the Cuban 5 and is taking action to build a movement for their freedom. The labor movement in Canada is making the case of the Cuban 5 a political priority including the Steelworkers, Food and Commercial Workers and Postal Workers. And of course throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the injustice done to these men is well known and an example of the breech between your administration and our neighbors in the Southern hemisphere.

With great enthusiasm our union movement contributed our brains, energy and finances in supporting both of your election campaigns. Latinos and workers in general voted for you in record numbers and here in the U.S. we are beginning to reach them about this case. The loud but shrinking voices from Southern Florida do not speak for us in the labor movement. It is becoming clearer that the majority of people even in Florida want normalization of relations with Cuba and you yourself have said that improving relations with the people of Latin America is important to your presidency. One small thing you could do to get that desire started is to free the Cuban 5 now.


Santos Crespo

President Local 372

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