According to Granma

Threats and Violence Lead to Tragedy

Thus it is recognized, with no qualms about it, that in just twelve months these illegal departures, the smuggling of human beings into Florida, and the Cuban Adjustment Act, have cost the lives of 60 Cuban citizens in one year.

With this news a profile of the two survivors starts to emerge, but they still have not appeared in full.

Meanwhile the struggle to free Elián kept gaining strength every day, even among the American public. On January 21 it was announced that the grandmothers were leaving for New York. That was really too much for them. The mob and its allies were forced to used the two missing survivors in the same disgusting and cynical way they usually do things.

According to Granma, Elizabeth and Juan Miguel were teen sweethearts
Corbis Sygma
According to Granma, Elizabeth and Juan Miguel were teen sweethearts

That very day, almost two months after the mysterious disappearance, they were suddenly brought before the press.

"Miami, U.S. January 21 (EFE) -- The shipwrecked boy Elián González should stay in the United States because his mother gave her life in order that he could arrive in this country, one of the three survivors said today.

"Arianne Horta recounted at a press conference today the dramatic story of the journey in which Elián's mother and stepfather died, along with 9 other Cuban immigrants when their fragile boat sank in the Florida Straits.

"She [Elián's mother] preferred to die but she wanted her son to live, and arrive [in the United States]," said Arianne.

"He [Elián] always shouted that he was going to the Yuma' [United States] with my uncles, he always said my uncles,'" she claimed."

Note the emphasis given to the melodramatic idea that Elizabeth gave her life so that the child could live in a free country, and the ridiculous image of a joyful and happy child less than six years old, not crying or afraid of the bad weather and big waves but shouting that he was going "to the United States to live with his uncles," the uncles that the child had seen just once in his life, when he was four years old. That is just too much!

The grandmother's trip, and the impact that their straightforward and sincere words had on American public and the very U.S. Congress sent shivers through all those involved in the boy's kidnapping. It created panic.

"Miami, U.S. January 25 (AFP) -- The other two survivors of the shipwreck, in which the mother of the child Elián González died, are traveling to Washington to lobby the U.S. Congress in favor of granting him U.S. citizenship, the local press announced on Tuesday."

Desperation is growing. Incredible things have happened. Between Friday 21 and Thursday 27, the grandmothers gave an important press conference at the airport, they went to Miami twice, they have made countless contacts with the most varied and influential media, and they have met with dozens of congressmen. It was already becoming insufferable!

Under the heading: "They deny that Elián's mother was forced to travel to the United States," El Nuevo Herald published an article by its Washington correspondent: "She was not forced," said Arianne in a press conference held at the National Press Club.

"Fernandez, for his part, denied that Brotons's boyfriend was a man who treated her violently.

"He was always kind. He loved her so much that he came to the United States and went back to Cuba to get her. Would she have followed him if he mistreated her? That's hard to believe," he stressed.

"When it seemed to me that the journey was dangerous and I decided to leave my daughter on land, she was there and saw that.

"That was when the boy, Elián, began to shout, We're going to the United States,' Arianne added."

It is pointless to comment on this statement. One could perhaps be amazed or maybe ask a simple question: If she decided to leave her daughter on land because the journey was dangerous, why did she not suggest to Elián's mother that she also leave the child back on land since he was about the same age as her daughter and would be taking the same risks?

Arianne and Nivaldo did not tell the truth. They knew what happened. When they returned to shore and Elián was crying inconsolably, that was when Munero said threateningly to the mother: "Either you shut him up or I will." That information did not come from Cuba, it came from the United States, and it was Arianne herself who said it to her family, back in our country, over the phone. But this was not the only source.

People who were watching nearby heard it and witnessed it. It is known that Munero and others were armed with machetes and knives. If there is one thing that everyone agrees about regarding this man, something nobody has questioned -- neither men, women, relatives, friends, or acquaintances -- it is that he had a violent and aggressive character. It is recorded in numerous police documents and all the testimonies previously offered. It is a complete and utter hypocrisy to claim -- as Nivaldo Fernandez did, a man who is well known as a coward and a liar -- that Munero never mistreated Elizabeth. The mob's position of denying it just shows how much they dread it being revealed that Elizabeth, due to her docile nature, her resignation, and total submission to Munero, her free will totally subdued, incapable of resisting, she could be -- and in all probability was -- forced, through threats and the usual violence he used with her, to embark on that stupid and suicidal misadventure.

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