More Pro-Castro Propaganda on Elian, This Time From CNN

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN, following the same vein as the Associated Press, highlighted how Elian Gonzalez is now a member of Cuba’s Young Communist League. Correspondent Shasta Darlington reported on Monday’s "American Morning" that the newly-minted communist "vowed he would always follow the examples of Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, Cuba's new president." She also acknowledged unquestioningly Fidel Castro’s "personal relationship" with the boy.

Darlington, reporting live from Havana, introduced her report by announcing that Elian took his "first step that, for a select few, lead to a bright political future in Cuba." She then gave a short summary of the custody dispute over the child eight years ago, during which she stated that "Fidel Castro himself led the ideological battle to bring Gonzalez back to Cuba and his father."

The CNN correspondent also ran archival video of a younger Elian, dressed in the uniform of the communist "club" for younger children, the "José Martí Pioneer Organization," thanking "my family and the Cuban people and Commander Fidel" for his return to Cuba.

On the issue of Castro’s "personal relationship" with the 14-year-old, Darlington reported that "[t]he aging president attended the young boy's birthday on more than one occasion. At this party, he helped him blow out the candles." She then concluded, "With those credentials, for most Cubans, it comes as no surprise that Elian Gonzalez joined the ranks of those young people who [are] most committed to Fidel Castro's revolution."

"American Morning" co-host Kiran Chetry, on her first day back from maternal leave, then asked Darlington, "And how common is it to join this young communist organization?" She replied, "Well, it's not entirely exclusive. This year, for example, there were 18,000 young people. But then again, not everyone does it, and it does show a certain commitment to the revolution and to the party that not all youngsters have. "

Again, just as the AP failed to do, neither Darlington nor Chetry asked skeptically whether Gonzalez actually had the choice to join the Young Communist League, or whether if he actually was "committed to Fidel Castro’s revolution." Another key detail left out of the segment was the Clinton administration’s role in sending the child back to Cuba.

While Darlington did mention that Elian’s mother "was killed when a boat smuggling them to the United States flipped over," there was no mention of the conditions in the communist country that may have warranted her move to risk the journey.

The full transcript of the segment from Monday’s "American Morning:"

KIRAN CHETRY: Elian Gonzales has gone from the cute little boy who was at the center of an international custody battle at age six now to a communist at the age of 14. He's a member of Cuba's Young Communist Union. Our Shasta Darlington joins us live from Havana, Cuba, this morning, with more.

SHASTA DARLINGTON: That's right. That's right, Kiran. Elian Gonzales is older, he's taller, and he's back in the headlines -- taking the first step that for a select few lead to a bright political future in Cuba.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Remember the little kid at the center of a bitter U.S.-Cuban custody battle? Well, he's not so little anymore. Eight years after returning to his father in Cuba, Elian Gonzales has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union. During a ceremony over the weekend, he was presented with a union card and vowed he would always follow the examples of Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, Cuba's new president. Elian is now 14, but he was just 6 years old when his mother was killed when a boat smuggling them to the United States flipped over. He was found clinging to an inner tube and handed over to relatives in South Florida. Fidel Castro himself led the ideological battle to bring Gonzales back to Cuba and his father.

FIDEL CASTRO (through Darlington’s translation): 'Little Elian will return to his homeland, to his family, to his school,' he said.

DARLINGTON: And after months of huge marches and heated speeches, Castro claimed victory. In many ways, Elian Gonzales' future was written the day he returned to Cuba. Over the last eight years, his family has had front-row seats at Castro's rallies. At an early age, Gonzalez himself started to assume a public role, speaking at political rallies like this one.

ELIAN GONZALEZ (through Darlington’s translation): 'It's been five years since I was able to return with my dad and it was possible, thanks to my family and the Cuban people and Commander Fidel,' he said.

DARLINGTON: Castro and Gonzalez also had a personal relationship. The aging president attended the young boy's birthday on more than one occasion. At this party, he helped him blow out the candles.

DARLINGTON (on-camera): With those credentials, for most Cubans, it comes as no surprise that Elian Gonzalez joined the ranks of those young people who [are] most committed to Fidel Castro's revolution. Kiran?

CHETRY: And how common is it to join this young communist organization?

DARLINGTON: Well, it's not entirely exclusive. This year, for example, there were 18,000 young people. But then again, not everyone does it, and it does show a certain commitment to the revolution and to the party that not all youngsters have. Kiran?

CHETRY: Shasta Darlington for us live from Havana, Cuba, this morning. Beautiful, beautiful sun rise behind you.

Well, here's more on Elian Gonzalez in our 'A.M. Extra.' About eight years ago -- it was April 22nd, 2000, that federal agents stormed a house in Miami's Little Havana to seize Elian. He was 6 years old at the time. He didn't return to Cuba for another two months, of course, in that well-publicized battle back and forth with his family. Back home, he appeared at political rallies with the President, Fidel Castro, who is often watched over by bodyguards, and Castro would even, as we heard from Shasta, attended Elian's birthday parties. In 2003, his father Juan Miguel was elected to the national assembly. John?

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center