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“The boat child” feels safe in Ecuador, a ‘brother country’ to Cuba

Elián González spent a week in Quito as part of the Cuban delegation to the World Festival of Youth and Students

Elián González has said in interviews to Ecuadorian media that he did not leave Cuba in the last 14 years for fear of reprisals by "The Empire." "We know that imperialism does everything possible to hurt our people," he began. "Because of fear of reprisals, fear that they would take action against me, they did not let me leave Cuba. But, since I am in a brother country here in Ecuador, we feel sure that nothing will happen."

Elián González is now 20 years old. He is in Quito this week as part of the Cuban delegation to the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, an event that brings together Communist youths from around the world. His role within the delegation is to denounce the economic embargo against Cuba before the Anti-imperialist Tribunal, a conference that delivers moral judgments of the great world powers. "I came out to carry Cuba's message further and to call for the sovereignty of all people."

While in Quito Elián has been a media target for photographs and interviews but always under the supervision of the Cuban embassy in Ecuador. The embassy decides which requests to accept and which to decline. That's why his interview to El Cuidadano, a government media outlet, is remarkable. There he said that if he had stayed in the United States he would have become "a media object. "The boat boy" - as the world knew him - is now a revolutionary who dresses in red with the word Cuba printed on the fabrics and, without blushing, puts on an Adidas jacket, just like Fidel. All his answers resonate with the spirit of the Cuban Revolution. He speaks of Marx, El Che and Fidel. He calls Rafael Correa's administration thus far "just and ideal." "Support your president," he tells Ecuadorian youths, "because, from what I've seen he's doing everything he can to give you a better world."

Elián said that at home in the city of Matanzas he is a regular young man who is studying industrial engineering. His fame outside of Cuba, he said, surprised him. "I did not think my story was so well-known. It's something the Americans gave me. They gave me this fame. Although I would like to go unnoticed, I have a commitment and a duty. I must respond to all of them."

He did not talk much about his mother or her desire to go to the United States. His mother, he said, left Cuba because she let her companion and capitalism manipulate her. She had nothing against the revolution, he explained.

He talked more about Fidel Castro. "He's a model that every Cuban youth should follow...I remember a congress for the youth where he launched a book, Los Tengo a Ustedes," or "I Have All of You". "For all of us he is a father and a role model and if you follow him when you're young, you'll follow him when you grow up. Every Cuban follows Fidel."

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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