South to the Future

February 16, 2000

MIAMI — Sources say the Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested three suspects in conjunction with two seemingly unrelated attempts to take the life of Elian Gonzalez, the boy whose fate has sparked a diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and Cuba.

Gonzalez, who was rescued on Thanksgiving following a shipwreck that killed his mother and others seeking to immigrate to the U.S., is the subject of a bitter custody dispute between his father, a Cuban national, and his extended Cuban-American family in Miami. The arrests, which took place in Washington, D.C., and in Miami, occurred within days of each other.

Although the names of the suspects have not been released, details of what can only be described as bizarre conspiracies to assassinate the 6-year-old Cuban refugee have begun to circulate among law enforcement agents and the press.

In one of the cases, it is believed the alleged assassin was convinced that the young Gonzalez was actually the illegitimate son of Fidel Castro and had been smuggled into the U.S. as part of an elaborate ploy to groom him for a future political career in America. Investigators are rumored to have discovered photocopied fliers, which describe in detail a Manchurian Candidate-like scenario in which “Alien Gonzalez” rises to power, first as a student leader at Harvard, and later as a U.S. congressman from Florida who, after a constitutional amendment is passed, becomes the first foreign-born president of the United States. A cache of semiautomatic weapons and what may be explosive devices was also found in the suspect's Washington, D.C., motel room.

Two days later, in a separate incident, federal and state authorities apprehended a Cuban-American couple in Miami. The man and woman now in federal custody were purportedly plotting to abduct and possibly kill Gonzalez. In an unpublished letter sent to El Nuevo Herald, Miami's Spanish-language newspaper, the suspects warned authorities that the Cuban government had collected Gonzalez's DNA with the aid of the boy's grandmother, Mariela Quintana. There were also repeated references to a “flotilla of Elian Gonzalez clones” that would invade Florida in the year 2006.

The letter, now in the possession of the FBI, apparently was sent in response to a Feb. 7 Miami Herald story that reported Quintana had bit her grandson's tongue and unzipped his pants during a recent visit to “see how much he had grown,” and to make him feel comfortable. The couple claimed that the tongue-biting had been performed for the purpose of sampling the young boy's genetic material. Although they consider the claims outlandish, authorities are treating the case with the utmost gravity after a search of the couple's Hialeah home turned up a pair of false passports and an unspecified number of unregistered handguns.

While authorities are confident that Gonzalez is no longer at immediate risk, state and federal police have increased security at the Miami home of the boy's great-uncle, in the event that the recent arrests inspire copycat attempts against Gonzalez's life.

South to the Future's stories contain fictional and factual elements. Except when public figures are being satirized, any use of real names is accidental and coincidental. Comments?

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