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Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 05:58 GMT 06:58 UK
Elian's relatives at war

After the tragic death of his mother and stepfather in a desperate attempt to escape from Cuba, the battle for six-year-old Elian Gonzalez has pitted his Havana-based father against relatives who live in exile in Miami.

BBC News Online presents a guide to the family members fighting over Elian's future.

Father: Juan Miguel Gonzalez

Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Elian's father Juan Miguel with his new son Hianny

A tourism worker in Cuba's national park organisation, Juan Miguel was thrust into the public glare when his son and ex-wife were shipwrecked trying to escape Cuba.

He wants to take Elian back to Havana but his relatives in Miami say he is being manipulated by the Castro regime. He insists no one controls him.

Juan Miguel has remarried, to Nersy Carmanate, and has an infant son with her named Hianny.

Great uncle: Lazaro Gonzalez

Lazaro: Lost custody battle

Lazaro Gonzalez - the uncle of Juan Miguel Gonzalez and Elian's grandfather's brother - came to the US 15 years ago and is at the forefront of the fight to keep the boy in the US.

Elian was handed over to Lazaro by the US immigration authorities after he recovered from his ordeal at sea and he has been cared for in Lazaro's home in Little Havana, Miami.

Lazaro has been accused of failing in his duty to protect the six-year-old from the increasingly embittered politics and propaganda of the dispute.

He lost legal custody of Elian when he defied a US court order to hand him over to Juan Miguel when he arrived in Washington.

Cousins: Marisleysis Gonzalez and Georgina Cid Cruz

Spokeswomen: Georgina Cid and Marisleysis Gonzalez

The Miami-based daughters of Lazaro Gonzalez and his sister Georgina Cid Gonzalez respectively.

Both young women have been used by the Miami relatives to put forward the arguments for not allowing Elian to be taken back to Cuba.

The telegenic Marisleysis has been particularly prominent in the relatives' coverage and, living in the same house as Elian, also appears to have become the boy's main carer.

The Cuban media have also focused on Lazaro's daughter, once describing her as 'the famous and hysterical, Marisleysis, well known for her diatribes against the true family'.

Grandfather: Juan Gonzalez

Although five of his siblings fled to Miami after the Castro revolution and they form the main obstacle to Elian's return to Cuba, Juan Gonzalez has remained loyal to the communist regime.

He is the father of Elian's father, Juan Miguel, and husband to Mariela Quintana, who travelled to Florida with Elian's maternal grandmother, Raquel Rodrigues, in an earlier attempt to bring the boy home.

For many years Juan had no contact with his brothers and sister, although before the Elian feud they had resumed links as Cuba opened up to the outside world.

Mother (deceased): Elisabeth Brotons

Elisabeth Brotons with Elian

Depending on ideological viewpoint, Elian's mother could have either been a brave woman who paid the ultimate price for freedom or an evil one who boarded an unseaworthy boat to the US after plotting with her husband to abduct her own son.

Others say she was under the control of a violent and abusive second husband who forced her to make the perilous journey.

She left Cuba with Elian and husband Lazaro Munero in the early hours of 21 November 1999 by boat.

The last Elian saw of his mother was probably as thirst and exhaustion took over her body and she slipped underwater from the inner tube to which the two had clung for safety after the boat sank.

Step-father (deceased): Lazaro Munero

Munero is thought to have been the organiser of the ill-fated boat ride. He had already sailed illegally to the US, in 1998.

But his relatives there said he could not bear to be apart from the family he had left behind, as well as Elisabeth, to whom he may or may not have been married, and Elian. He returned to Cuba to collect her and make another bid for freedom.

Munero was arrested in Cuba and detained for two months. He returned to his job as a taxi driver, but in the following months he hatched a plan to sail to the US with more than a dozen relatives and friends.

Great uncles: Delfin and Manuel Gonzalez

Delfin: Still optimistic about keeping Elian

Lazaro Gonzalez's Miami-based brothers have taken less prominent roles in the battle to keep Elian in the US.

In fact, early on in the dispute, Manuel reportedly once expressed a wish to see Elian returned to his father.

Delfin supports Lazaro's stand against the US immigration authorities. However, both he and Lazaro have criminal records - for drunk driving - which has been used by their critics to imply they are not suitable guardians for the boy.

Cousins: Jose and Luis Cid

In another blow to the Miami relatives' credibility, the 32-year-old twin brothers of Georgina Cid Cruz have long criminal records involving assault, theft and firearms.

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See also:

15 Apr 00 | Americas
Relatives denounce Elian's father
14 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian video sparks controversy
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
04 Apr 00 | Americas
High emotion in Havana and Miami
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