By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
Editor's note: Nowhere has the battle over the fate of Elian Gonzalez been waged with more ferocity than in Cuba. And no Cuban media outlet has been more persistent than Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba's Communist Party. Since Elian's rescue at sea on Thanksgiving, the paper has published more than 120 stories on the subject. Its online editions have added even more articles, drawn from around the globe.
Tuesday through Saturday 500,000 copies of Granma's print edition are distributed throughout the nation, from major cities to rural hamlets. The cost per issue is 20 centavos. It is by far the most widely read periodical on the island.
On February 8 the paper published an extraordinary 11,000-word report examining the lives of four people who were intimately involved in the Elian saga: the boy's mother, Elizabeth Brotons Rodríguez; her boyfriend, Lázaro Rafael Munero García, who organized the fateful boat trip that resulted in eleven deaths; and the two adult survivors of that tragedy, Arianne Horta Alfonso and Nivaldo Vladimir Fernandez Ferran. According to Luis Fernandez, spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., the report was prepared by the newspaper's editorial board, and as such was unsigned.
In light of the intense interest in the subject, we are reprinting that report in its entirety. It was translated from Spanish to English by Granma staff members, and is posted on the Granma Internacional Website (www.granma.cu/ingles). We have made no substantive changes to that translation. Nor have we critically examined the factual assertions it contains; the accuracy of the paper's reporting is unknown. By printing it here we do not intend to imply that any of Granma's claims are true. Our purpose in publishing it is simply to provide readers with unfiltered access to a provocative document produced by the Cuban Communist Party.
THREATS AND VIOLENCE LEAD TO TRAGEDY
Although all of the testimonies included here have been signed and authorized for publication by their authors, for fully justified reasons in some cases their names will be omitted to protect their identity and therefore their personal prestige. There will be no overly crude words used to describe the behavior of young people who could be marked for life, or others treated with severity who have family ties with decent people who have cooperated in the investigation and deserve consideration. There is still something most worthy of taking into account: children who will one day be adults and learn about this painful story showing close family members involved in shameful activities.
There will be neither essential information left out, nor will a single piece be exaggerated or a word written out of hate or vengeance. The purpose is to provide the national and international public with information, sometimes in detail, on rigorously documented truths and facts. Where the smallest crack is left open, desperate people who lack the slightest notion of ethics promptly fabricate the most hateful intrigues and lies. However, nothing is more powerful than truth.
When Elián's courageous grandmothers arrived in New York airport, an hour and a half late, at 3:35 p.m. on Friday, January 21, they faced several hundred reporters and cameramen for an improvised press conference. When explaining the reason why her daughter Elizabeth, Elián's mother, had traveled with her child on that illegal and fatal voyage, the dignified grandmother declared, in such heartfelt and resolute terms that left no room to doubt the sincerity with which she was expressing her deep conviction: "Many will be wondering about this and saying that what Elián's mother would want is for the boy to stay here. But I speak for her because I knew her well, because I was her mother and I know how she felt, how she behaved, and if she took this step it was because she had a husband who was very violent and threatened her, and this is what led to this tragedy."
A number of despicable individuals have tried to disclaim the words of this noble grandmother who lost her only daughter under really tragic circumstances, and who has additionally had her grandson most unfairly and ruthlessly snatched from her, because it was essential and highly convenient for their political aims to destroy the reputation of this young mother. For the traitors to their homeland it would be a threefold counterrevolutionary victory, while for our people it would be a threefold crime: against the child, against the family, and against the homeland. For their evil purposes it was crucial to keep the abducted child in the U.S. territory at any cost, even if it meant tearing his soul out, by sustaining the ridiculous and outlandish myth that "Elián's mother sacrificed her life so that her son could grow up in a free country."
They did not even question whether it was worth the sacrifice of a mother's life for a child to be educated in a country that tolerates such crimes and monstrosities. The same country that for the last 40 years has attempted to force that young mother's homeland into submission through hunger and disease, and has waged a relentless economic war that does not spare the millions of children and adolescents who are nonetheless educated without a single exception, without the slightest possibility of growing up to be illiterates. We have not only the highest education rates in Latin America but also the lowest risk of infant mortality, even if the United States is included in our region.