According to Granma

Threats and Violence Lead to Tragedy

"On the other hand, I can say that Lázaro liked to lead a most comfortable life, which is what led him to commit a burglary in 1992 in Varadero, for which he was jailed. I met Elizabeth once when Lázaro brought her with him to my house and at first sight she seemed to be a sincere, affable and civilized person.

"On Friday, November 19, Lázaro went to my house in his car and told me that he would come back on Saturday to pick up the child and take him to his mother. I said no since he never took him out and I thought that something could happen because he was such a heavy drinker. Since I refused we had an argument during which he told me that as a father he had rights over the child. The next day he came in the early hours of morning to pick up the child, but the boy had already left; I had handed him over to my mother, for her to take him out so that Lázaro could neither see him nor take him out, and also so that the child would not see us arguing again, but I had no idea that that very day he was going to illegally leave the country. All of this struck me as rather odd, bearing in mind that two months had passed without Lázaro coming to see the boy, and if he happened to see him in the street with me, even from a distance, he would tell me that he did not need visiting because he had already seen him."

These last three testimonies show better than any other facts this man's perfidious character and abusive nature. He wanted to take the child with him behind the mother's back while he did not care for him at all. He had never showed any interest in him. The child would have actually been an obstacle for his dissolute and irresponsible lifestyle. Nobody knows who was going to look after the child. However, he tried to snatch him from the mother.

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

Why did he do that? Perhaps a despicable desire for vengeance, for the way Dayana and her family had always reacted to the demands and impositions of someone who resolved everything by using force. Psychologists could try to find an explanation.

The truth is that the boy had a miraculous escape. It is almost absolutely certain that he would have died, or if he had survived the shipwreck, Javier would be today another Cuban child held captive in Miami, and the mob would have done everything possible to prevent his return to Cuba. Pedro Pablo Brotons Estrada, a resident of Cárdenas and Elizabeth's half-brother: "The relationship between Lázaro Rafael Munero García and my sister Elizabeth was tense, since the former had an impulsive, domineering character. When the two of them began their relationship in 1997, my family was not happy about it, due to what people said about Lázaro. It was said that he never had a job, that women who lived with him had to support him, that he was a bully, and for this reason my family was opposed to the relationship. Later, when he illegally left the country in 1998, we saw this as the solution to the problem, but Lázaro's mother visited my sister to get her to speak to Lázaro on the phone, which caused an argument between Lázaro's mother and Elizabeth's. However, despite that, my sister talked with him several times and said that Munero told her that life in the United States was very difficult and that he could not adapt to the system. I think that he really returned to Cuba to take my sister with him, so that she could carry on supporting him in that country. "Later, when Munero came back, the family allowed him to live in Elizabeth's house again, but he subtly worked on her, to turn her against the entire family, causing a rift with her mother and stepfather, which was very difficult and unexpected. With regard to this, I think that Munero used threats and coercion because since they had resumed living together, my sister's character changed completely, she was always aloof and withdrawn. On two occasions, when we unexpectedly met in the street, I noticed that she had scratches and bruises on her body and she told me that the dog in her house was responsible.

"As far as Lázaro's treatment of Elián is concerned, I can confirm that at times he was tyrannical and domineering with the boy, although I have no evidence of physical abuse against him.

"I believe that what Elizabeth did, that is, leaving the country illegally, was motivated by her fear of Lázaro and his bad influence over her, since my sister loved Elián very deeply and she would never have got involved in an adventure that would put his life in danger."

Ever since Lázaro Munero had dropped out of the school system and avoided all chances for a technical education, he had not looked for a useful and relatively well-paid employment as many young people in Cárdenas had, who made great efforts in their education and prepared themselves to embark on their working life in the prosperous, nearby tourist zone of Varadero. Instead he got involved in activities that had nothing to do with productive work and services, that benefit both the individual and society, for which our country prepares its young people.

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