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
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
From a political and revolutionary standpoint, it is known that Elizabeth joined the Federation of Cuban Women and the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution in 1983, at the age of 14. There she had responsibilities in the areas of Education and Vigilance, took part in meetings, assemblies, voluntary work, etc., and had good relations with all of her neighbors. She also took active part in the trade union local at her workplace and in the Territorial Militia.
In 1991, at the age of 22, she joined the growing tourist industry with a job at the Paradiso-Punta Arenas Hotel, in Varadero. She was a member of the staff there from the time the hotel was opened until just days before her death.
The following year she was admitted as a member of the Young Communist League based on her attitude towards both her work duties and political activities. In the unanimous opinion of her co-workers, she was an excellent worker, very professional and diligent in the fulfillment of her duties, uncompromising, active, and serious who had good relations with the rest of the staff. As a result of all of this, five years later, in 1997, she was admitted as a member of the Communist Party of Cuba; she maintained double membership by continuing to lead the Young Communist League grassroots committee of chambermaids at the hotel. This responsibility she carried out until the time of the tragic voyage that cost her life.
Elizabeth married Juan Miguel González Quintana in August of 1985. They had been going steady since she was 14 years old. According to her parents, Juan Miguel had been her first and only boyfriend. They divorced six years later, in May of 1991. Repeated attempts to have a child had ended up in failure, which is considered the main cause of their formal divorce. However, their relations as a couple were not interrupted. They continued to try to have a child. Then, after seven pregnancies, which had all ended in miscarriage and only one surpassed six months, their efforts were finally rewarded with success.
Having appealed to the genetic counseling services of the "Ramón González Coro" Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital in Havana, one of the highest specialized in the country, where the couple was examined in depth, they were assured of the possibility of having children, and Elizabeth was instructed on the measures she should adopt under the care of the gynecology and obstetrics specialists in Matanzas. Her eighth pregnancy was successful and Elián was born on December 6, 1993, after eight years of anxious waiting.
The painstaking work of the Cuban Revolution in the care of expectant mothers and children made the miracle of Elián's birth possible. It was not doctors from a U.S. hospital who provided Elizabeth with encouragement and thorough care. In that country, humble families cannot afford these costly services, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars there but which are absolutely free in Cuba. It is doubtful that Elizabeth would have ever thought of giving her life so that her child could live in a country where he would have never been born.
As evidence of what we have just stated here, in case anyone were to have any doubts, we believe it would be useful to illustrate it with information contained in Medical History Summary 1640, written up after Elizabeth's and Juan Miguel's first genetic counseling appointment at the "Ramón González Coro" Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital, reproduced here with the consent of Elián's father and grandparents:
"Reason for appointment: Repeated miscarriages and an induced abortion due to severe Oligoamnios incompatible with the continuation of the pregnancy and suspicion of fetal deformity. Personal and family history: No personal or family history of genetic disorders or congenital deformities in either member of the couple. Exposure to radiation: No. Exposure to virus: No. Infection or other diseases: No. Previous toxoplasmosis studies: Yes (in all pregnancies). No previous treatment with any medication. This young couple is attending this appointment in search of genetic counseling due to a great interest in having a normal child.
"Procedures recommended: Determination of folic acid in mother's blood. Complement fixation for toxoplasmosis study in both members of couple. Karyotype (study of chromosomes in peripheral blood of both members of couple).
"Results of studies undertaken on the couple: Complement fixation: negative. Karyotypes in peripheral blood: mother: 46, XX (normal); father: 46, XY (normal). Determination of folic acid in maternal serum: normal. Conclusion of studies is that miscarriages were due to non-chromosomal causes. Next appointment 04/05/1989. Requested because of another miscarriage on March 23, 1989. Recommendation to come in for examination during next pregnancy."
Juan Miguel and Elizabeth rigorously followed the specialists' instructions until that pregnancy five years later which culminated in the birth of the son who has now been stolen from his father and his maternal and paternal grandparents by distant relatives (as far as a fifth-degree relationship) who had only seen him once in their lives.
The new mother who, according to a "venerable neutral nun," has purportedly served as a surrogate for the one that Elián lost, is a young woman only 22 years old, the same age as Elizabeth when she took a hard and honest job, which she carried out dutifully and irreproachably despite those frustrated pregnancies and her yearning to give birth to a child, which she finally did after trying with impressive tenacity and sacrifice, and not by stealing him from anyone else.