Netflix’s ‘Wasp Network’ is a spy drama that also packs an emotional punch. While it tells a daring tale of Cuban spies in America, it also gives us a glimpse into the plight of their families who have to suffer the consequences of their actions. The main character of the film is Rene Gonzalez who abruptly leaves his family to defect to America. This leaves his wife Olga to deal with the fact that her husband is a traitor. As we witness Rene’s adventures in America, we also come to know about Olga’s struggles in Cuba. The contrast works wonderfully in the film, but how feasible is it in reality? Are Rene and Olga based on real people? Let’s find out.
Are Rene and Olga Gonzalez real people?
Born in Chicago in 1956, Rene Gonzalez came to Cuba in 1961. Growing up, he witnessed the struggle of his people against the violence caused by external factors and decided to fight for his country. He served as a pilot for many years before he was chosen for the Wasp Network program. He was married to Olga Salanueva with whom he had one daughter when he was required to leave Cuba.
He kissed them goodbye one morning and then stole a plane to fly to Miami and presented himself as a deserter. He worked for Brothers to the Rescue and supplied valuable information about them to his superiors, which led to the prevention of several terrorist attacks. He was also offered by the FBI to work for them, but unlike Juan Pablo Roque, he decided that the job was neither to his liking nor his morals.
Because his family didn’t know the truth, they were shocked at his behavior, though Olga never quite accepted that Rene could do such a thing. She kept on enquiring about her husband and was eventually let in on his secret. She and Irma were sent to Miami to live with Rene. There, they had another daughter, Ivette, but when she was a few months old, Rene was arrested by the FBI.
Rene was offered a plea deal, but he refused to be a rat and accepted the sentence of 15 years in prison. As a result, his family was deported soon enough, except Ivette, who was born in America and, hence, was a citizen. Olga applied for a visa to visit her husband but was denied ten times after the American authorities told her to never apply for it again. Unable to meet with her husband, Olga took his issue to international platforms. She, with the wives of four other spies, campaigned for their freedom. Irma, too, took to fighting for her father’s cause and met with several noted personalities to get them to rally alongside her against the injustice inflicted on the Cuban Five.
Where is the Gonzalez family now?
— Thomas Davies (@thomasdavies59) September 12, 2013
Rene Gonzalez was released from prison on October 7, 2011, after serving 13 years. He was to serve three more years on probation but was allowed to return to Cuba in April 2013 to attend his father’s funeral. Following this, a federal judge allowed him to stay there, but in return for that, he had to renounce his status as a citizen of the United States of America.
He reunited with his family after all these years and lives in Havana. He, along with four others, is a revered figure in Cuba for their service to the country. His contributions to keep Cuba safe were also acknowledged by then-President Fidel Castro. His daughter Irma pursues a career as a clinical psychologist and is also a teacher at Havana University.
Read More: Wasp Network Ending, Explained