By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
WHO WAS LÁZARO RAFAEL MUNERO GARCÍA?
The organizer and the person most responsible for Elián's tragedy and the death of Elizabeth and others, adding up to a total of 11 Cuban citizens who lost their lives in that absurd misadventure -- the direct result like many others of an insane and genocidal law against Cuba imposed by the U.S. 33 years ago and still in effect -- was in this case a young man whose illustrative history as a student and citizen is worth knowing and reflecting upon to come to the relevant conclusions.
He was born in Havana on January 12, 1975. In 1979, when he was four years old, his family moved to the oil mining zone in the municipality of Varadero, where his father worked as a mining equipment operator. His family environment was known to be unfavorable. In his home there were constant arguments and disagreements among family members and also with the neighbors. Some believe that this could have greatly influenced the subsequent development of his personality.
Like all children, adolescents, and young people in Cuba, he also had the opportunity for a free education. Upon reaching school age, he entered "13 de Marzo" Elementary School in the municipality of Cárdenas. He studied there for six years. Although his grades were acceptable, at the end of this stage of his education the teachers described him as a restless child who often got into fistfights with his schoolmates and broke other school rules.
He moved on to "Capitán Guillermo Geilín" Junior Secondary School in the same municipality. No progress was made in his social conduct. Upon completing his studies there, the evaluation of his conduct was similar to the last. He increasingly displayed characteristics and reactions that worried and drew the attention of his teachers. Nevertheless, like all ninth grade graduates, he received a scholarship to undertake senior high school studies, and was enrolled in "Héroes de Playa Girón" Senior High School in the municipality of Jagüey Grande, Matanzas province. His social behavior continued to deteriorate, particularly his discipline.
According to testimony from his teachers, during the time that Lázaro Munero attended this school, he was characterized as an aggressive youth, particularly towards the girls, whom he physically and verbally abused. He was expelled from this school for taking part in throwing cans and jars full of excrement into the school courtyard.
In order to prevent him from dropping out of the educational system, he was enrolled in "Emilio Roig" Senior High School, where he continued his tenth grade studies. But his fist-fighting continued there as well. He used his knowledge of judo techniques, which he had learned in junior high school, to strike and abuse others.
His teachers particularly remember an occasion when he used truly excessive and traumatic violence against another student, causing him physical injury. He went even further when already attending "Emilio Roig" Senior High School. During a students school function at "Héroes de Playa Girón" Senior High School, from which he had been expelled, Lázaro Munero started a disturbance and wounded a student with a sharp tool.
He dropped out of school in tenth grade, during the 1989-1990 school year, to undertake a criminal career.
We will let the following testimonies tell us more about this man:
ENRIQUE RAMÍREZ MENDOZA, a native of Havana City, assistant director of production at "Cecilio Miranda Díaz" Junior High School, in the municipality of Jagüey Grande: "I met the man named Lázaro Rafael Munero García when he was transferred from "Héroes de Playa Girón" Senior High School to "Emilio Roig" Senior High School, where I was the principal at the time. He had been transferred due to bad conduct. I remember that he was a student who liked to stand out from the rest by negative attitudes and tough demeanor. I also remember an occasion when a students' school function was being held at "Héroes de Playa Girón" Senior High School, and Munero left the school along with another student named Michel González and went to the aforementioned school, where he started a disturbance that ended with Munero wounding another student with a sharp tool. "That same night two officers from the National Revolutionary Police went to "Emilio Roig" School to investigate the incident, and they spoke with both Lázaro Munero and Michel González, who immediately conceded their involvement in the events. After this, Munero García continued to attend school but did not finish the school year due to his negative attitude."
ZAIDA ELISA IZQUIERDO MOREJÓN, a teacher at "Héroes de Playa Girón" Senior High School: "I have been working since 1985 at 'Héroes de Playa Girón' Senior High School, where one of my students was the youth named Lázaro Rafael Munero García, who was in the tenth grade at the time. I remember that he was characterized as being an aggressive person, particularly against the girls, who he physically and verbally abused. He was undisciplined. "Thinking back, I also remember a time when there were a number of incidents of cans and jars of excrement being thrown into the school courtyard, and it was finally determined that Lázaro Munero was the ringleader. I spoke with him personally on various occasions to try to change the way he acted, without any results whatsoever, since he was not receptive to criticism, and as a result was finally expelled from the school."
LUCÍA BACILIA PÉREZ PEÑAFUERTE, a native of Corralillo and a teacher at the Carlos Marx School in the village of Agramonte, municipality of Jagey Grande: ÒI met the individual named Lázaro Rafael Munero García when he was attending 'Héroes de Playa Girón' Senior High School. At the time I was the head teacher for the 1989-1990 school year. I remember that he had an average academic performance and also that he was introverted. He liked to stand out from the rest of the students by telling jokes to get everyone's attention. I also remember that Munero García had a girlfriend that he physically abused. I think he had severe behavioral problems, although I never met his parents because they never visited the school. After he left this school, he was transferred to 'Emilio Roig' Senior High School, where he also had problems that led him to drop out before the end of the school year.
ORESTES MARRERO DE LA HORDA, a student at the Tourism Polytechnic School in Varadero: "I can say that when Munero Garca was in junior high school he began to practice judo, and this led to a major penchant towards a bullish behavior, which shows in all the fights he got into, both in school and on the street. I remember one of them, which was very talked about, the fight he had at the students center in this city, where he took on various people, and another one at the Oil Company club, which led to him being thrown out. In other words, this individual was almost always getting into fights and disturbances because of his own personality."
ILIÁN ABEL RODRÍGUEZ FORMOSO, a neighbor of Lázaro Rafael Munero García: "With regard to this man, I can say that he never worked in his life. He was always involved in illegal business deals, which is how he earned the money to live beyond his means. I can also say that he did not get along with his neighbors, I never saw him socialize with any of them. He was a bully who liked to live that kind of life."
DAGOBERTO MUNERO MOLINA, a brother of Lázaro's father, a native of Caibarién and assistant at the Cárdenas Oil Drilling and Extraction Company: "Lázaro always acted like a bully and treated his own family badly [his father, brother, and wife]. He only spared from such treatment his mother, María Elena García García, who had a very strong character, and so she and my nephew did whatever they wanted around the house. I also know that Lázaro and his father had violent arguments. I can also say that Lázaro paid little attention to his son [a son that, as will be seen later, he had had with a young classmate], which is why the child's grandparents had to demand that he paid his alimony. "I remember that whenever my nephew spoke to Elizabeth, he did so roughly and she submitted to him because she was a better person. In the neighborhood where he lived, Lázaro didn't put up with anything from anyone. He was very loud and always thought he was right. He always wanted to have his way.