Revolutionary's daughter takes up cause of Cubans
The daughter of revolutionary poster-boy Che Guevara flew into Victoria Friday to raise support for a case now dubbed "The Cuban Five."
Aleida Guevara March, 42, is one member of a cross-Canada tour organized
by Goods for Cuba and the Canadian Network on Cuba. She
was speaking last night at the University of Victoria.
March and the others are spreading the word about five Cuban men now
serving sentences ranging from 15 years to two life terms plus 15
years in the United States for conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.
The men were arrested in 1998 after they were discovered to be attempting to gather information on anti-Castro groups, mostly working in Miami.
Supporters of the five contend they were not engaged in espionage against
the U.S. government but instead were monitoring people who openly
call for the overthrow of the Cuban government.
Those on the tours say the five men were denied a fair trial in the
U.S. where enormous violations of their legal rights were allowed to take
And while appeals are underway, that could take years.
In the meantime, they are working to bring pressure on the U.S. from wherever they can find support, including Canada.
"We believe Canadian people have a right to be well informed in order
to decide what they want to do," March said through an interpreter in an
at Victoria International Airport.
March is a pediatrician in Havana and, according to a small biography supplied for the tour, has worked in Angola, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
Despite her famous father, whose photo poster continues to show up at
demonstrations all over the world, March said she and her brothers and
live very quietly now. But she is always aware of how much people still revere her father.
"People will give the love to us that they cannot give to our Dad," said March. "And we accept that love."
Also on the tour with March is 19-year-old Irma Gonzales, whose father, Rene Gonzales, is one of the five men in prison.
Gonzales, who now lives in Havana, said while she was able to visit her father in prison two months ago, her mother has been denied.
Even though the family was living legally in the U.S. her mother was arrested shortly after her father, put in prison for three months, and then deported and denied re-entry.
Gonzales said her father has missed her 15th birthday and her high school
graduation. Her sister was only four months old at the time of her father's
so he has missed her first steps, first teeth, not to mention all her birthdays.
Gonzales and her family are growing desperate to be reunited with their husband and father. They are hoping Canadians can help.
"I know you (Canadians) are very close to the U.S. and can put pressure on the United States," said Gonzales. "Everything helps."
Mario Garcia, minister counsellor of the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, said so far the tour seems to be drawing good support in Canada.
Audiences have ranged from about 500 in Ottawa to 850 people in Toronto.
"We knew we had a lot of friends but it's impressive to see how very much," said Garcia.