Los Angeles Times

Marisleysis rushed to hospital; crowd breaks through barricades

MIAMI -- Elian Gonzalez's cousin Marisleysis was hospitalized today after she grew faint during a round of TV interviews. And outside her home, family supporters broke through a barrier and chanted in protest of efforts to return the boy to Cuba.

Marisleysis Gonzalez, cousin of Elian Gonzalez, is taken by paramedics from a restaurant in the Little Havana section of Miami to a hospital on Tuesday. Gonzalez fainted while giving TV interviews.

After Marisleysis Gonzalez finished an early morning interview at La Carreta, a Little Havana restaurant, she turned pale. She put her head in a friend's lap and then hurried into a bathroom.

Paramedics took her out of the restaurant on a stretcher, and she was taken to Coral Gables Hospital, where she was in stable condition, hospital spokeswoman Laura Hernandez said.

She gave no details, but family spokesman Armando Gutierrez said she had been vomiting and hospital personnel were trying to feed her. He said Marisleysis would stay in the hospital overnight.

Marisleysis' father, Lazaro Gonzalez, visited his daughter at the hospital, then emerged to criticize the federal government's handling of the dispute over Elian.

"The government is going to destroy this family," he said. "We are only trying to protect this child."

Outside the Gonzalez family home this afternoon, about 200 angry protesters broke down a barrier keeping them away from the home, screaming, "Elian is not leaving!"

Housewife Olga Hernandez said the protesters broke through the barrier because "they saw a bus and they thought they (Immigration and Naturalization Service officials) were coming to take him."

The protesters linked arms and formed a human chain around the home. City of Miami Police just stood by and watched.

Earlier this year, Marisleysis Gonzalez was hospitalized for exhaustion. Friends have said she often spends days in bed, too tired to move.

Elian's mother drowned in November while trying to bring him to the United States; the boy was rescued off the Florida coast.

Marisleysis Gonzalez and other U.S. relatives have been battling with the boy's Cuban father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to keep him in their custody. The U.S. government and the courts have backed the father's efforts.

Marisleysis, a loan processor in her early 20s, had arrived at the interview at about 6:30 a.m. today, after conducting a news conference for local television at 11 p.m. Monday.

During the interviews, Gonzalez challenged Elian's father, who is her cousin, to come to her house and to talk to her about why he wants to take the boy back to Cuba.

She said she had not told Elian that his father might be coming to the United States as soon as today. She said the last time she told Elian his father might be coming, he cried the entire weekend, and then the father didn't come.

"As a precaution, I will not tell him until everything is certain," she said. She said that when someone tells Elian his father might be coming, "All he asks me is 'Please don't let them take me.'"

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