Irma González went coast-to-coast across Canada, raising awareness of her father's unjust imprisonment in a U.S. federal prison. His crime? Working to stop terrorism.
Irma was accompanied by Dr. Aleida Guevara March, daughter of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, hero of the Cuban Revolution.
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In June, 2001, five Cubans and Cuban-Americans were sentenced to long prison sentences following their conviction on charges of espionage. The arrests occurred in mid-September, 1998, with the U.S. judicial system taking three years to complete the character assassinations, exclude evidence, deny witnesses and lock up these five men - called Patriots by Cubans whose lives were saved through their actions.
Irma is the daughter of René González. Born in Chicago, he's now in Edgefield, South Carolina, federal prison, sentenced to 15 years (another of his co-accused faces 19 years, while three will be in prison for life). Irma was in Canada from Sept. 28-Oct. 11 to raise awareness of her father's wrongful conviction and his unjust imprisonment. From Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto to Halifax (and several points in-between), Irma brought her story to Canadians, hoping that as more people learn of their plight as political prisoners in U.S. jails, pressure for their release will also grow.
The Cuba Five are Cubans and Cuban-Americans who tried to do what the U.S. government would not: stop terrorist acts against Cuba which originate in U.S. territory. None of these men were shown to have obtained or been looking for "state secrets" -- in fact, the information they obtained and reported back to Cuba was entirely public. They were trying to infiltrate anti-Cuba terrorist groups in the U.S., learn of their plans of attack against Cuba, and give the island an opportunity to prevent those attacks.
This was not a mission without justification. As José Altshuler (of the Cuban Movement for Peace) writes, "Terrorist actions against Cuba by members and sympathizers of such groups as Alpha 66, Omega 7, Brothers to the Rescue, and the Cuban American Foundation among others, have killed hundreds of Cuban citizens, fired bazookas and cannons at ships and buildings, placed bombs in Cuban hotels, destroyed buses, infected the island's farm land with various plagues, and spread deadly diseases among its livestock and dangerous viruses among the Cuban population. Add to this repeated assassination attempts against the Cuban President and diplomats. The peaceful monitoring of the activities of Cuban exile organizations in Miami cannot be compared to such terrorist acts. Like people everywhere, Cuba has the right to defend itself against terrorism."
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Media Coverage of the Tour:
CPAC - The Canadian Parliamentary Channel - interviewed Irma González on Thursday, October 2nd. The interview was broadcast at 7:00pm EST and repeated in the following days. Visit www.cpac.ca to find or request a repeat in your area.