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CNN Today

Family of Elian Gonzalez Divided on Where 6-Year-Old Should Live

Aired April 10, 2000 - 2:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're spending the day once again waiting for developments in the Elian Gonzalez case. For that, our focus today is at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where our bureau chief down there, John Zarrella, is waiting for what happens next -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, we understand now that Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian Gonzalez's great uncle, has left another hospital, Mercy Hospital, about 20 minutes from here, and we don't know if he's on his way here or not. We expect that that is the case, however. That should take him about 20 minutes to get here. At that point, of course, he will meet with psychiatrists and a psychologist about the handover, the turnover of Elian Gonzalez to his father, Juan Miguel.

We believe again he should be here momentarily. They had, the latest word was, they had a one-hour delay in the meeting, which was scheduled to originally start at 1:30. It is now 2:30, which should mean that if Lazaro is going to be close to being on time, he should be here any minute.

This is John Zarrella, reporting live from Miami.

WATERS: This Elian Gonzalez case, of course, is ultimately about one little boy, and that is a fact easy to forget, given that many other folks who have taken center stage in this saga, especially family members, both in the United States and Cuba.

CNN's Stephen Frazier takes a look at Elian's family tree.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Elian Gonzalez with his parents before the world had reason to know Elian Gonzalez, celebrating his fifth birthday in his home town of Cardenas, Cuba, with the mother who would later drown at see heading for the United States and his father, who wants him back.

Elian's name is a combination of his parents' names, Elisabet and Juan. They were divorced when Elian was 3 years old.

His mother worked as a maid in a tourist hotel. Family members say her boyfriend of three years persuaded her to board the boat to the United States to pursue a new life. Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian's father, says he was never aware that his ex-wife was taking Elian to the U.S. A hotel doorman in Cuba, he has since remarried. He and his wife have an infant son, Johnny.

After fishermen rescued Elian, he was taken into the house of Lazaro Gonzalez, his father's uncle, Elian's great uncle. Lazaro, along with his two brothers, Manuel and Delfin, left Cuba to make their home in America. Their brother Juan, rarely seen, remained in Cuba. He is Juan Miguel's father, Elian's grandfather.

Lazaro is the primary family figure who is spearheading the fight on behalf of the Miami relatives to give Elian political asylum. His daughter is 21-year-old Marisleysis Gonzalez, who, the family says, has been acting like a surrogate mother to Elian. She left Cuba when she was 5 years old. She's on leave now from her job as a loan officer at a bank.

Manuel Gonzalez, one of Lazaro's brothers in Miami, wants to see Elian returned to his father in Cuba and has been ostracized for his Miami-based relatives for taking an opposing stance. Things have gotten so divisive in the Gonzalez family that during a Senate hearing to press for political asylum for Elian, Marisleysis and her uncle Manuel left the hearing room without speaking to each other.

At the end of January, Elian's two grandmothers arrived in the United States to campaign for the return of their grandson. Raquel Rodriguez is Elian's maternal grandmother. Mariela Quintana is his paternal grandmother, married to Juan Gonzalez. The grandmothers returned to Cuba, though, empty-handed.

Now Elian's father has come to take his son home, a home where Elian's mother will only be a memory.

Stephen Frazier, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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