HAVANA – American "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan called for the closure of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as she and other activists arrived here Saturday to draw attention to the nearly 400 terror suspects held at the remote site.
Sheehan is among 12 human rights and anti-war activists who will travel across this Caribbean island next week, arriving at the main gate of the Guantanamo base in eastern Cuba on Thursday — five years after the first prisoners were flown in.
"Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not afraid of anything," Sheehan said when asked about the possibility of U.S. sanctions for traveling to communist-run Cuba, which remains under an American trade embargo.
"What is more important is the inhumanity that my government is perpetrating at Guantanamo," she told reporters.
Sheehan, 49, of Vacaville, Calif., became an anti-war activist known as the "peace mom" after losing her 24-year-old son Casey in Iraq in April 2004.
She drew international attention after camping outside President Bush's Texas ranch to protest the war in Iraq, and has been arrested numerous times for trespassing.
Sheehan arrived in Havana early Saturday evening with trip organizer Medea Benjamin of the California nonprofit groups Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace.
Benjamin said group members believed they were exempt from U.S. travel restrictions on Cuba because they were traveling as professional human rights activists who will attend a daylong international conference in the Cuban city of Guantanamo on Wednesday, the eve of their protest.
The U.S. military still holds about 395 men on suspicion of links to Al Qaida or the Taliban, including about 85 who have been cleared to be released or transferred to other countries.