HOW ARE TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS
BETWEEN JUAN MIGUEL AND HIS SON ELIAN ?
According to psychiatrists, telephone communications between father and son are fundamental to preserve the child's psychological stability, the bond with his little brother, his grandparents and other relatives. However, the strategies used by the notorious great-uncle Lazaro González and his family to prevent and hamper such communications are growing increasingly cruel and cynical.
The situation is worse than ever despite repeated Diplomatic Notes presented to the Department of State by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington systematically informing them that the family in Miami is jeopardizing communication. As a result, the State Department and the INS took measures to try resolving the problem. The family in Miami was warned, regulations were set and a daily time for communication was established but the evil man, who seems to be growing more angry and uncontrollable every day --or perhaps more daring for the support he receives from the Mafia and the impunity for the crime committed-- evades all pledges and almost completely ignores the U.S. Government Authorities.
To illustrate our claims, we offer a summary of the events of the last 22 days regarding attempts to communicate --despite the 10 Diplomatic Notes delivered to the Department of State by our Interests Section. This summary has been drawn up on the basis of the information that Juan Miguel and his family systematically present to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the head of our Interests Section in Washington is aware of the problems which arise, on a daily basis, and can report them to the State Department. Granma is making this information public with prior consent from Juan Miguel.
Monday February 21
Juan Miguel called. The telephone rang but no one answered.
Wednesday February 23
The line was engaged. Later, when he tried again, it rang, but no one answered; the line was then engaged until 10:00 p.m., when he managed to get through. Lázaro's wife answered and said the child was sleeping.
Thursday February 24
He managed to have quite a good conversation with the child.
Saturday February 26
First thing in the morning, Juan Miguel asked Raquel to call the child. Angela, Lázaro's wife, answered the phone and told her that the child was sleeping. Juan Miguel called in the afternoon and managed to speak to him.
Sunday February 27
Juan Miguel tried to get through three times. He tried at different times of the day, but no one answered the phone, so he could not speak to the child.
Monday February 28
Juan Miguel phoned several times in the afternoon: at four o'clock, at five o’clock, at half past five and at six o'clock. The phone rang but no one answered.
Tuesday February 29
He called shortly after six o'clock in the evening. Angela answered the phone and said that the child was asleep. He asked her why the child was in bed so early. She replied that he was ill, that they had given him a sedative and he had fallen asleep. She added that he should ring on Wednesday morning. When he asked what type of medication the child had been given, she replied that she did not know that they had given him an injection. For three consecutive days he was not allowed to speak to his son.
Wednesday March 1
Shortly after 9:00 a.m., Juan Miguel managed to speak to Elián. He seemed to be livelier. He told his father that he was feeling better, that he had been given an injection which made him feel sick, and that he had, in fact, vomited.
Juan Miguel wanted to know what medication they had injected him with the day before, to which Elián replied that he did not know. Nobody was able to tell him what the injection had been.
Saturday March 4
Juan Miguel called five times, from five o'clock p.m. onwards. Each time he managed to get through, Lázaro answered the phone, and simply told him that the child had gone out with Marisleysis.
Sunday March 5
Juan Miguel called at around 10:00 in the morning, at 5:00 in the afternoon and at 8:00 p.m. Nobody answered.
Monday March 6
Juan Miguel started trying to get through at 5:00 in the afternoon. The first time that they answered and realized it was he, they hung up. After several further attempts, Alfredo, Lázaro's nephew who is also opposed to the child’s return to Cuba, answered the phone, and told him that the child had not come back from school yet. When he called again half an hour later, Alfredo's wife answered and said that the boy had gone out. Half an hour later, in another attempt, Alfredo answered again and got the child to the phone. After talking for just a few minutes, they called him to eat so Juan Miguel told him to go and eat, and that he would call a bit later. To make sure that he would not have any trouble speaking to the child later, Juan Miguel asked to speak to Lázaro but was told that he was not in. Then Delfín came to the phone, that is, Lázaro's other brother who has been sanctioned on more than one occasion in Florida for drunk driving and causing material damage. In an aggressive tone of voice, this man told Juan Miguel that he had already talked to the child and there was no reason for him to call again; that the Commander gave orders in Cuba, but not there, where it was a free country. He also claimed that Immigration had ruled that he could only speak to the boy between 7:00 and 7:20 in the evening. Juan Miguel told him that he knew nothing about that but would not discuss it any further, and that he would call the child later. Half an hour later, when he tried to carry on his conversation with Elián, Delfín answered the phone again and said that the child was still eating, again insisting that he had already spoken with him. Half an hour later, they went through the same scenario: Juan Miguel called, Delfín answered the same thing and hung up.
Wednesday March 8
Juan Miguel managed to get through at about 9:00 o'clock that night. The phone rang twice and Delfín answered. He explained that the child was sleeping because they had gone to church and when they got back, after 8:00 p.m., he went straight to bed.
Thursday March 9
He called at 7:00 o'clock in the evening. Delfín on the phone again. He said that the child had gone to visit Marisleysis in hospital and would later eat in a restaurant. At 7:30, Juan Miguel called. Again, Delfín answered and said that the child had arrived home very tired and was sleeping but that he would wake him if Juan wanted. Juan Miguel replied: "So, once again, it is your fault that I cannot speak to my son."
Friday March 10
Juan Miguel called at 4:50 in the afternoon. Alfredo answered the phone and said that the child had not come back from school. At 5:50 he called again, Delfín answered the phone, waited a few seconds, and when he heard Juan Miguel's voice he hung up. Right away, Juan Miguel tried again. This time Alfredo told him that the child was in the shower and that he should call again at 7:00 p.m., which was the agreed time. Juan Miguel replied that he had called at 7:00 p.m. the past two days and had not been able to speak to his son. (The Department of State had told Juan Miguel, on March 8, that he could speak to the child every day at 7:00 p.m. without any time limit, and that the family in Miami was aware of this arrangement).
At 6:30 p.m., Juan Miguel tried once again to talk to Elián. Alfredo came to the phone and said ironically that it was not yet 7:00 o'clock and that the child was still eating.
At 7:00 p.m., he finally got to speak to his son but the child had to ask the people around him to keep quiet, as they were making a lot of noise. At a point when the child was talking about his school in Cuba, the call was cut off and Juan Miguel had to call again.
At 7:20 p.m. on the same day, when they resumed their conversation voices could be heard around the child and someone even started to mess with the phone keys. The call was cut off shortly afterwards until, in a last attempt, Juan Miguel was able to say goodbye to the child, who sent kisses to him and particularly to his baby brother only a few months old, who he knew had been hospitalized that day.
Sunday March 12
Juan Miguel phoned at 7:00 o'clock in the evening. The phone rang and no one answered. At 8:45 p.m., Mariela, the grandmother, got through and was told that the child had just arrived and was asleep. Mariela told them that they should ensure that the child was in the house at 7:00 o'clock in the evening, as this was the time agreed for them to phone. They replied that they had gone out and could not do anything about it. In the end, the family was unable to speak to the child, despite the fact it was Sunday.
Monday March 13
Juan Miguel called at 7:00 p.m., then just a few minutes after the child had picked up the phone, Marisleysis began hassling him about his school homework and telling him off because he had been speaking for half an hour. Realizing that Elián was being harassed, Juan Miguel decided to say goodbye, to prevent them from keeping on at him any further.
The most significant elements of the conversations with the child, since March 6, demonstrate the true intentions of the people who are keeping him captive:
. The people answering the phone are not those who were given temporary custody of the child nor were they previously involved in conversations.
. Everyone makes decisions, sets rules and gives orders about how and when Juan Miguel can communicate with his son.
. The people who are holding the child captive have been aware since March 6, and said so themselves, that phone calls would take place at 7:00 p.m. When on March 8 Juan Miguel was officially informed of the terms of this arrangement --about which he had not been previously consulted-- he realized that at no point had a time limit been set for his conversations with Elián and that the 20 minutes which the family in Miami claimed was authorized from 7:00 p.m. was yet another lie aimed at further restricting his communications with the child.
. Every time Juan Miguel phones, voices can be heard around the child, comments on what he is saying, or laughing, or talking to him and rolling videos to distract him. They do whatever they can to hamper these phone calls which, for more than three months now, have been the only emotional contact that Juan Miguel has had with his son.
As further evidence, we enclose a copy of the report on the events of March 14 --five days after the hearing, and six days after, via our Interests Section in Washington, "the Immigration and Naturalization Service informed the Department of State that the Miami relatives had agreed that Mr.González may call every evening at 7:00 Eastern Standard Time, at which time Elián will be available to speak to his father".
Tuesday March 14
. "Juan Miguel phoned at 7:00 p.m. Angela answered, she did not speak and simply passed the phone to the child. Marisleysis could be heard saying: ‘Don't speak to your father if you don't want to’, while the boy insisted that he wanted to speak.
. "The child started off talking freely, stories about school, things he had done but after 10 minutes voices in the background started asking him if he liked the bear, etc., apparently referring to a video.
. "The child began to complain and said they were bothering him, making noise and asked them to keep quiet.
. "This continued until the child said to his father that ‘whenever he phoned they always began talking and rolling videos etc.’, that they did not let him speak. Juan Miguel suggested that he go into another room or that they leave the room, then he heard Marisleysis say: ‘We'll bury ourselves underground.’
. "The child spoke to his grandparents Rolando, Mariela and Raquel.
. "The noises continued. The child carried on complaining and asked his father not to call at this time because that was when everyone started chatting.
. "Juan Miguel explained to him that he called at that time because that was what the people there wanted. At that point, Alfredo took the phone and angrily said, in an offensive manner, that things were like that because he had been complaining with the INS, that he did not really love the child and that Raquel never loved her daughter." (This example shows that everyone in the house listens to the conversations between Juan Miguel and Elian.)
. "Juan Miguel insisted that they let him speak to his son but in the end they hung up and he was unable to speak to Elián again, even though he tried to get through several times."
And as if this story were not unpleasant and sad enough, since a child's only surviving parent is denied even the most basic and essential telephone communication with him, yesterday the 15th, from 7:00 until 8:40 in the evening, Juan Miguel uselessly tried to speak to Elián. The telephone rang and rang but nobody answered. Only once, at 8:20 p.m. sharp, the phone seemed to be engaged. Once again they prevented the father from speaking to his son.
Editorial published in Granma, 16.03.2000