By: Jose Luis Fernandez

Elian arrived in Miami on November 25, 1999. When Cubans reach U.S. territory, Immigration officials have, for over 40 years, routinely tried to locate their family members, if any, residing in the U.S. If Elian had been an adult, those family members would have had to sign an affidavit of support, stating that he would not be a public burden. But in the case of a minor, Immigration grants temporary custody to a family member and parole is granted to the minor until he or she becomes a permanent U.S. resident.

Again, this is routine procedure - done thousands of times. The only difference here is that the individual in question is a 6-year old rafter and, for all practical purposes, he arrived at U.S. shores all by himself. And this has caused a lot of notoriety.

Next day, the child's family in Miami (also a routine procedure) called his family in Cuba, that is, Elian's father, and gave him the news: "I feel O.K. I know that with you, Elian won't lack anything," allegedly said the father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, from Cardenas on November 27, 1999.

This is where this episode would have ended. One among many thousands in 40 years.

But a week later, things got crazy. In other words, without any logic, the Castro government, through the child's father, demanded "the return" of Elian.

In all countries of the world, when a person wants to claim custody of a minor who is in another country, that person routinely travels to the country in question and provides proof of his or her rights over the minor. Then the court grants or not custody of the child after having studied the case and taken into account the best interest of that child. Simple as that.

However, Fidel Castro was not interested in resolving this situation quickly and following the usual procedure. Forty-one years of unfilled promises; forty-one years of venceremos ("Some day we'll be victorious", Fidel Castro's slogan) - one generation after the other. He couldn't possibly have ended yet another speech at the beginning of 2000 with his favorite slogan: venceremos. This would have made him the laughing stock of the Cuban people. And then he thought of " pulling" the child away from his family in Miami and show him off to the "useful fools" (such as Lenin described the type of people that lend themselves to communist machinations), as a symbol of "triumph over Yankee imperialism." To that effect, he had the complicity of Bill Clinton. "No problem," said the Administration through the Department of Justice and the Immigration Service. At that point, Castro gave a 72-hour ultimatum for the return of the child. However, neither Castro nor Clinton took into consideration the feelings of people who know all about Communism. And especially the feelings of thousands of Cuban-Americans who were able to flee from the claws of Communism, but who still have family members back in Cuba and for whom they feel responsible. They can't see deporting this child after he miraculously made it to the U.S. Not his family members in Miami or the Cuban, European and Asian communities that have been able to flee from communist oppression. (On January 1st, a Vietnamese individual piloted a plane and flew into Cuban territory, dropping leaflets over the island urging the Cuban people to rebel against their government.)

Elian Gonzalez is not a postal package; he is not a box that can be delivered to one or the other. He is a child with a life to live. Yes, indeed, his father has parental rights - if he can show proof that he, and not his family in Miami, can provide a better life for his child in Cuba. This is the law. But how many married couples in this country are denied custody of their children because neither one of them can provide a normal and healthy environment for them? We constantly hear about judges ordering that a child be placed in a foster home, away from their parents, because they consider this to be in the best interest of the child.

Juan Gonzalez divorced Elizabeth Broton (Elian's mother) in 1991, and then remarried. The following year, maybe because she was still in love with him or most probably in order to have access to stuff from the tourist hotel where Juan Gonzalez worked, Elizabeth Broton began a sexual relationship with her ex-husband. She became pregnant and Elian was born in 1993. Juan Gonzalez acknowledged Elian as his son and Elizabeth proceeded to raise the child. In the meantime, Elizabeth fell in love, just like Elian's father had before, and she also began a new relationship. At one point, her new companion left the island surreptitiously and began working in the United States to try to get Elizabeth and Elian to join him in the U.S. After trying several times, he was told that there was no possibility whatsoever for Elizabeth and Elian to join him in the U.S. He then went back to Cuba in a boat to try and fetch them both and is captured, serving a 1-year prison term. Afterwards, he began making plans to flee the island together with Elizabeth, Elian and 10 other people. And the rest is history. The boat capsized and only three of them survived. Elian was found floating on an inner tube and was rescued. These are the facts.

Castro knows that probably no judge in his right mind will give custody of Elian, the fruit of an illicit relationship with "the another woman," to a man whose wife will probably make a merciless stepmother. In addition, neither the judge nor anyone else could accept the premise that in Cuba Elian is going to live better and that in the future, when he is a grown man, he will be able to make his own decisions. Regarding this, there is case law in the U.S. In 1980, after living in the U.S. for six months, a Russian couple decides to move back to the Soviet Union. Their 12-year old son, Walter Polovchak, refused to give up the freedom he had been enjoying during those six months and he asked his parents to allow him to remain in the U.S. with his Russian cousins. The parents refused. Moscow demanded that all three of them return to the Soviet Union. The parents went to court trying to assert their parental rights and the court, upon hearing both the parents and the child, decided that the best thing for the child was to stay in the United States. The whole process took 5-1/2 years. Despite the Soviet Union and his parents being present in the courtroom, the boy, 18 years old by that time, was granted U.S. citizenship.

Now, then, Fidel Castro won't allow Juan Gonzalez to come to the U.S. and argue his case in court. He knows better, and that's the reason why he sent the grandmothers in a political journey to the U.S., organized by the National Council of Churches, a repackaged "religious" branch of the former Federal Council of Churches, an international communist movement. (According to American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam, during the Vietnam War the NCC organized demonstrations in the U.S. against that War and also made solidarity visits to Hanoi during that time. Coincidentally, Bill Clinton was also a guest of honor of the Kremlin during that time.)

All kinds of legal and illegal subterfuges are being used by the Castro regime in this case. NEVER have any U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials gone to ANY country to confirm any parental rights. However, in this case INS officials were sent to Cuba, as part of this farce. These INS officials are no judges; they have neither the legal nor the psychological training necessary to make decisions regarding the life of a child.

But we must not be too severe with Bill Clinton for trying to satisfy, once more, the whims of Fidel Castro. And we say this once more, for we must never forget the downing of the Brothers to the Rescue planes including the death of their pilots, ordered by Fidel Castro; Clinton's repeated refusal to fully enforce the Helms-Burton Act, and the repeated violations of U.S. trade laws with respect to Castro.

But let's go back to Fidel Castro. What is he after? He has mobilized all leftist organizations throughout the world regarding this case, which has been called by many of Castro "friendly" governments a "family" matter and not a matter for states to decide. He has forced all leftist groups in all countries, such as unions, professionals, students and intellectuals - all of them - to demand that the United States deport a 6-year old child to Cuba. Even leftist organizations that support illegal immigration in California. They all demand Elian's deportation because Fidel Castro has ordered it. All forces that are against democracy in the world have been mobilized, and not even some U.S. Congress people have escaped, for some of them paraded "the grannies" around places with a promising socialist influence, both in New York and Washington, D.C. They even tried to kidnap the child during the first trip of the grandmothers to Miami on their way back to Cuba, and since they were unable to do so, they went back to . New York. Once again they tried. U.S. General Attorney Janet Reno got a friend of hers, Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, to provide her home as the site for the meeting between the grandmothers and the child. A neutral site. You can just imagine how well the grandmothers were treated since the host was a friend of Janet Reno. However, when Sister O'Laughlin personally witnessed the situation, she immediately realized that she had been wrong and notified Janet Reno, personally. She, along with most non-Cubans in the U.S. and throughout the world, had been on the side of Havana regarding the deportation of this child.

But people only know what they hear from the Havana regime propaganda machine. They don't know, or don't want to know, about the massacred children aboard the 13 de Marzo tugboat (ordered by Fidel Castro); they don't know about parents such as Cohen, Amigo Trelles, Grave de Peralta, among others, that have been begging the Cuban regime to allow their minor children to leave the island so that their families can be reunited. None of this seems to matter - it doesn't seem to exist. Only the rallying cry of Fidel Castro seems to matter anymore: Deport the child; return Elian to his father (Fidel Castro); let's win this battle against Yankee imperialism. Even if this means slavery for Elian.

After Sister O'Laughlin made public her new opinion, Prensa Latina, from Havana, published that Sister O'Laughlin is an emissary of Satan and that she is working for the Miami mafia (this is what the Castro regime calls anyone who disagrees with them, especially the Miami Cuban exiles). They claim that the grandmothers were mistreated by the Sister and that they felt like they were in prison while in the Sister's house when they were not allowed to do as they pleased.

To make matters worse, despite Sister O'Laughlin's vigilant watch, the paternal grandmother made certain confessions on Cuban T.V. (controlled by the regime) about her pederastic tendencies. A tape of that T.V. appearance is making the rounds. Seems that she asked the child to stick out his tongue, which she proceeded to "tenderly" bite, and then pulled down the child's pants and played with his genital organs. Deport this child for the sexual enjoyment of this sick "grandma?"

Also, if the child is now deported to the United States, will the Communist regime there allow the child to return to a normal life? To "his school"? Deport him to a place where everybody, from the youngest to the oldest, recognizing him due to the propaganda unleashed by the Castro regime and his published photograph, will be asking him about his life in Miami? Will the regime allow him to tell the truth? Of course not. The child will be confined to a psychiatric hospital "to cure him from the trauma suffered in Miami." In other words, he will not be allowed to fraternize with anyone until he has "forgotten" his stay with the family in Miami. Until he has forgotten the ice cream truck that went by his Miami house everyday. Until he has forgotten his little dog, his electric cars, Dineyland, the tidbits he could eat whenever he felt like it; television programs without the constant barrage of communist political slogans. Finally, until he forgets and stops pining for his childhood in a free country. And they will use drugs to accomplish this. And the mind of this child, who has demonstrated to be very intelligent and sharp-eyed, will be lost forever.

Humanity cannot allow this.

The Voice of Free Cuba (La Voz de Cuba Libre) believes that this chapter of the Cuban exodus must end as many other thousands of cases these last 40 years: Grant political asylum to Elian Gonzalez. Let him remain with his relatives in the United States. In a few years, when he is of age, he can decide for himself: Stay in the United States or return to Cuba, to visit or to stay. He will have all of these choices if he is allowed to remain in the U.S. If he is returned to Cuba, he will only have one choice: Eventually try to leave again in another raft.


La Voz De Cuba Libre

Translated for The Voice of Free Cuba by Elena N. Treto

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