When Death Wears a Smile

CBS’ 60 minutes will report this weekend on what life is like today for Elian Gonzalez, five years after.

Elian1 Elian 

The question is, what kind of indoctrination has young Elian been through since his repatriation? Despite his ‘Stepford Child’ perma-smile, one can only hope he is as genuinely happy as he appears in the photo on the right.

In what Miami Cuban exiles would say is propaganda, Castro attended the boy’s elementary school graduation and declared he was proud to have Gonzalez as his friend. The feeling is mutual. “It’s also very moving to me and I also believe I am his friend,” Gonzalez tells Simon. “Not only [do I think of Castro] as a friend, but also as a father,” says Gonzalez. The boy believes that he could call the Cuban president on the phone if he wanted to.

Elian, his family and his fellow Cubans have hope in one thing – Castro. He is the one who gives them life. Elian’s comment exhibits nothing more than the deification of his “father”, Castro; a common characteristic of communist ideology.

Gonzalez gave a patriotic speech in front of Castro and cameras on the fifth anniversary of the day U.S. law enforcement officers raided his Miami relatives’ house and removed him at gunpoint to be repatriated. It’s all part of Castro’s propagandist plans, says Ramon Sanchez, a Cuban-American who led demonstrations in Miami in support of keeping the boy in America five years ago. “[Gonzalez] is being brainwashed by the Cuban regime. When you see a child talking in the same exact way that the dictator has talked for 46 years, you know he has been indoctrinated,” says Sanchez.

Hard to argue with that.

The boy says his Miami relatives, with whom he spent five months, tried to persuade him to stay in America. “They were telling me bad things about [my father]… They were also telling me to tell [my father] that I did not want to go back to Cuba and I always told them that I wanted to,” he tells Simon. Gonzalez says he missed his father, school and his friends back in Cuba.

The worst parts of his Miami experience were the nights he found difficult to sleep through. “I would have nightmares and my uncles would talk to me about my mother… it was better not to remind me of that because that tormented me… I was very little,” he recalls.

A classic tactic of cultism, convincing the subject that he was ultimately misled by the love of his family. Their love wasn’t real. Only the love and care that comes from the ‘father’ is real and true. 

One of those great uncles who cared for him during that time, Delfin Gonzalez, denies that Elian was unhappy and says he doesn’t believe anything he says in Cuba because the boy is a prisoner there.

Does Elian ever want to see those relatives again? “Yes,” he tells Simon. “Despite everything they did, the way they did it, it was wrong, they are [still] my family… my uncles.”

But will Elian ever be able to leave Cuba to go see his relatives again? Never, as long as communism rules the country. But you can bet that Castro himself or his representatives will reach out and claim that Elian’s family can come to Cuba to see the boy anytime they like without any fear of retribution. They’ll offer this with smiles on their faces.

Death wears a smile, just like the one on Elian’s face in the picture above.

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