HAVANA – Five U.S. pacifists, among them anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, traveled to the Cuban capital this week to demand the closure of the U.S. prison at the Guantanamo naval base, where some 400 detainees in the U.S. War on Terrorism are being held.
The group came to the communist island Jan. 7 without the authorization of the U.S. government, flouting Washington, D.C.’s restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I am not afraid of anything,” said Sheehan, the 49-year old mother who has become a leading anti-war activist since her son was killed in Iraq in 2004. “What is more important is the inhumanity that my government is perpetrating at Guantanamo.”
The trip was organized by Medea Benjamin of the California non-profit groups Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace.
The group also include former U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, Adele Welty, the mother of a firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks in New York City, and Tiffany Burns.
The group held a religious service just outside the Guantanamo base in far eastern Cuba, and participated in other symbolic acts there before returning to the Cuban capital.
A protest and march at the base, scheduled for Thursday, was to be staged to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the arrival at Guantanamo of the first batch of Muslim prisoners captured in the war in Afghanistan.
Sheehan, of California, drew international attention after camping outside President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch to protest the war in Iraq, and she has been arrested numerous times for trespassing.