Features Interview: Irma Gonzalez

Until the age of six, Irma Gonzalez led the life of an ordinary Cuban child. She lived with her parents and spent weekends with grandparents in Havana. Suddenly in December 1990 everything changed.

"I woke up one morning and my dad wasn't there. I was used to him being away for one or two nights, but this time he just didn't come back."

Growing up, Irma never questioned the explanation that he was "studying abroad." Letters and phone calls every few months were enough to keep the inquisitive six-year-old satisfied.

Despite Olga's best efforts to keep her daughter's spirits up, Irma sensed something was wrong.

"I saw my mother growing sad. She was trying to stay happy for me, but she was not well or happy in herself." Six years passed and then in December 1996 Olga told her now 12-year-old daughter they were leaving to join Rene in Miami.

"Me and dad had been very close when I was younger and seeing him again was like the years had never passed. He was exactly the same smart, talkative and loving father who had left."

What Irma didn't know was that Rene had spent their six years apart infiltrating Miami terrorist groups which were carrying out attacks against the Cuban people.

Nor was she aware that he had hijacked a plane to leave Cuba in 1990 in order to convince them he was genuinely against the Cuban revolution.

This is part of an article printed in the Morning Star in October 2010. For the full article please click here