"...Elian and Juan Miguel Gonzalez, son and father. The former is
an innocent child, the latter a man whose boy was taken from him. Elian has
behaved like a typical 6-year-old, Juan Miguel like a typical father. And
most of the politicians like typical fools." Richard Cohen,
Washington Post 3
After seven miscarriages, Elizabeth Gonzalez of Cardenas, Cuba gave birth to a
baby boy on 1993-DEC-6. They named him Elián Gonzalez. His name is a
of his parents' names: Elizabeth and Juan. After the
parents separated in 1997, they shared custody of Elián. Late on
1999-NOV-22, Elián and his mother climbed onto a vessel that has been
variously described as a 5.5 meter (ft.) boat, canoe or raft. They and 11
others left for the 90-mile trip to America. The only "life
jackets" were in the form of three car inner tubes, shared among the
The trip would normally take 48 to 72 hours. However, the vessel
capsized and all were thrown into the water. Three survived: a young woman
Arianne Horta, a man Nivaldo Fernandex, and Elián. "...at dawn on
Thursday [NOV-]25...[the] child had turned up along the coast at Fort
Lauderdale, unconscious and burned by the sun; not clinging to but lying
face upwards in another inner tube." 1 He had
probably only survived because some people on a fishing trip happened to see him.
The U.S. federal Immigration and Naturalization Service had no
choice under U.S. and international law but to return Elián to his father
in Cuba. On 2000-JAN-5 they ruled that "Juan
Miguel is the only person authorized to represent the child and act on his
behalf." Meanwhile, Elián quickly became a victim of political passions in Florida and
Cuba: The Cuban American National Foundation has conducted a highly
organized campaign to keep Elián in the U.S. Fidel Castro, dictator of Cuba, has
mounted a similar campaign to seek Elián's return.
The largely unorganized religious movement that has grown around Elián as
messiah is based in Santeria. Santeria is a mixture of
Roman Catholicism and African aboriginal religion. Various traditional gods of
African belief are equated with Roman Catholic saints. Elián is viewed as the
personification of Eleggua, the Afro-Cuban deity represented by a mischievous
child. He has also been viewed as a form of Moses and Messiah within the
Some evidences of these religious/spiritual movements are:
There are rumors that Santerian priests told Castro, the current dictator
of Cuba, that he would be overthrown by a child who had been saved by "angels
of the sea." The prophecy predicts that Castro will die on the
first anniversary of the child's appearance. i.e. on 2000-NOV-25.
Various myths have arisen about Elián's experience in the ocean:
Dolphins were said to have protected the boy from sharks.
They were said to have nudged him back onto the inner tube when he
Elián was said to have reached toward an angel who was floating above
him when he was rescued.
However, neither his rescuer nor the Coast Guard officer who responded
to the emergency saw any dolphins or angels.
His survival had miraculous features: he is said by some to have had no
scratches on his legs, no sunburn; he was not particularly dehydrated after
exposure to the hot sun for two days. Jose Basulto, president of Brothers
to the Rescue, stated: "I've seen 450 cases of these rafters,
and I've never seen one like this...Two days with his feet dangling in the
water and no fish bites? No scratches? Nothing? There's no other
explanation: This was an act of God."4
An image of the Virgin Mary is widely believed to have appeared in a
mirror in Elián's bedroom.
Another image was detected in an oil stain on a nearby bank window.
A woman carrying a cross with a crucified baby doll nailed to it appeared
on a TV news program.
A local mural shows him as the Christ Child in the Virgin Mary's
Max Castro, a sociologist at the University of Miami studies Cuban
immigrants. Many refugees who left Cuba when Castro took over in 1959 are
now in their early seventies and are concerned that they might die before
the present regime is overthrown. Sociologist Castro, who is no relation to
the dictator Castro, concluded "they're desperately looking for some
sign, some announcement, some harbinger, and this boy is it."
Jose Marmol, a columnist in one of the Cuban papers in Florida was
reported as writing: "The daughter of the pharaoh took in Moses and
this changed the history of the Hebrews. Moses lived to lead his people out
of slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Israel, an exodus that lasted 40
years--about the same as our exile from Cuba...Many see [Elián] as the
messenger of a miraculous mission to return the liberty to the suffering
Cuban people." 4
Crowds have appeared outside the house where Elián is staying with some
relatives. Many fall to their knees in prayer when the boy appears in his
yard. One person who regularly appears there is Enrique Ferrer, a Cuban
exile. He commented: "If Elián were just a [n ordinary] child, Fidel
would not have bothered with him. Fidel knows he is divine, and wants to
destroy him...Elián's life is not his own; its God's. He will either become
the future leader of the Cuban exile community, the one whose salvation
ensured the death of Castro, or he will be returned to the devil Herod
Pharaoh in other words, Fidel Castro to be reprogrammed and ensure
the survival of Cuban communism."
Cuban exile artist Alexis Blanco has painted "El Nino de los
Delfines." This can be translated as "The Boy of the
Dolphins" or as "The Christ Child of the Dolphins."
Elián is shown on his inner tube, with three dolphins and a shaft of light
descending from above.
Elián is viewed "both a savior figure and a vulnerable, miraculous
totem who must be saved from Castro. Such religious fervor adds to the
political passions swirling around the house making it almost impossible
for federal officials to snatch Elián away without a fight. Many say they
are willing to die for Elian." 2
Meanwhile, Elián is being "venerated in Cuba too. There, he's become
a symbol of American imperialism, portrayed as a slave in captivity. His school
desk has become a shrine, his face peers down from billboards, and vast marches
are held in his honor." 2 Elián's photograph has been
posted all over his home town, Cardenas. A banner across one of the city streets
reads: "The rights of the father are not negotiable."