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ElianWatch Archive: 2.00

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I have been out of commission for the past few days due to the flu. That means I'm really behind.

Another judge was assigned to Elian's case. This time Judge Jennifer Bailey replaced Judge Michael Chavies in the family court custody dispute. Judge Chavies removed himself after admitting he hired Armando Gutierrez for campaign consulting. Gutierrez is the spokesman for Lazaro Gonzalez's family.

"Judge Leaves Elian Case, Citing Ties to Consultant":


Ricardo Alarcon, president of the National Assembly claims the hoopla over a discovered Cuban spy ring was "an attempt to undermine the position of the [U.S.] immigration service in the Elian Gonzalez case."

"Cuba Says Diplomats will fight Spy Charges":

Last month, NBC's Dateline did a story on Elian's case. MSNBC has a corresponding web page.

Dateline's story on Elian:


In affidavits filed in U.S. federal court, relatives have made claims that Juan Miguel Gonzalez wants his son to stay in the U.S. According to Maria Isabel Martell's statement, Juan wanted to come to the U.S. himself. "When my brother, Alfredo, and my husband left Cuba, Juan Miguel told me, in front of his mother and his relatives, that sometime in the future he would come, even if it had to be in a tub."

Attorneys for Lazaro Gonzalez argue that returning Elian to Cuba would amount to political persecution because he would be exploited by Castro. In order to get asylum, the refugee (Elian) would have to show that he would suffer political persecution if returned to his home country.

Eight affidavits have been posted on the Miami Herald's website. I will try to go as many as I can over the weekend and offer up a summary for each.

"Kin says father wanted life here":

Today, Assistant Secretary of State, Harold Hongju Koh said the Cuban government "routinely harassed, threatened, arbitrarily arrested, detained, imprisoned, and defamed human rights advocates and independent professionals, including journalists, economists, doctors, and lawyers, often with the goal of coercing them into leaving the country."

Koh on Human Rights Practices:

Section on Cuba in the 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:

"U.S. Slams Cuba for Dissident Trials":

The award for political naiveté goes to CNN for this sentence from a story on Sister O'Laughlin's statement to U.S. federal court:

It was not immediately clear why O'Laughlin believes the Cuban government -- and not Elian's father -- would have custody of the boy if he returns to the Communist-ruled island.

Either the writer of the story is ignorant of the capabilities of communist dictatorships, or they are delibrately questioning O'Laughlin's credibility. If it's the former, then the writer should pick up The Black Book of Communism at their local bookstore. If it's the latter, then it shows the writer isn't the "objective" journalist he thinks he is.

"Nun Says Elian Would be 'Ward of State' in Cuba":

For Peter Schwartz, sending Elian back to Cuba is sending him back to "one huge jail." He argues that no parent has the right to inflict physical harm on their children. Since Cuba is so oppressive, fulfilling Juan Miguel Gonzalez's request would violate Elian's rights. Schwartz concludes, "This issue should be decided by the standard of individual rights -- a standard that precludes anyone from sending a six-year-old into slavery."

"The Rights of Elian Gonzalez":


This Washington Times editorial from 2.20 talks about Castro's hypocracy in wanting to reunite Elian with his father, while keeping thousands of Cubans from leaving that island prison to join their families.

"Cuba's Hostages":

Tom Palmer writes:

Columnists such as Mary McGrory and Richard Cohen, along with organizations such as the National Council of Churches, claim that allowing the father of Elian Gonzalez to determine where the six-year-old shall live is a no-brainer. It's the right of the parents to decide, they say. Curiously, these are the same people who also strenuously oppose allowing parents, equipped with school vouchers, to choose from among a wide variety of educational options.

"A New Twist on Parental Choice":

Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba writes:

The Cubans on the island do not know of the extensive coverage given by the American media to the views of Elian's father, or of the extraordinary media attention given to the visit of Elian's grandmothers. Those on the island have not seen the rest of Elian: a 6-year-old playing baseball, blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, playing with his dog and riding his bike. What Cubans see is a political icon when what they should see is a child.

A free and open media is why thousands of Cubans rally in the streets against American "imperialism" while a majority in the U.S. wants Elian sent back to Cuba.

"Ugly Lies in Castro's Photographs":


At yesterday's court hearing, U.S. Chief District Judge Edward Davis assigned U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore to Elian's case.

"Elian's Case in Federal Court Reassigned to Another Judge":

The Miami Herald profiles Judge Moore.

"3rd Judge Gets High-profile Elian Case":

According to a Gallup poll, 67% of Americans think Elian should go back to Cuba. This is another great example why we shouldn't run this country on polls. 67% of Americans think it's alright to send Elian back to a communist dictatorship. I'm sure that's not how the question was asked, but that what their answers meant. While this poll won't affect any court rulings, it will stop Congressmen from risking political capital in trying to make Elian a U.S. citizen.

"National Polls Steadily Support Return of Elian":


Today is the long awaited hearing in federal court in Miami. At issue is whether the federal court has jurisdiction to proceed with Lazaro Gonzalez's lawsuit that would force the INS to hold an asylum hearing for Elian. Because of Judge Hoeveler's stroke, another judge will be assigned to Elian's case today. The new judge won't be able to hear jurisdiction arguements, but U.S. District Chief Judge Edward B. Davis said it would be decided by 3.6.

Last night, Elian's great-uncle Manuel Gonzalez was wheeled out of Lazaro Gonzalez's home on a stretcher. Paramedics where called when Manuel began having chest pains. Manuel was meeting with Lazaro and his family to work out family differences. Manuel is seeking temporary custody of Elian and has stated that Elian should go back to Cuba.

"Elian family summit takes bizarre twist":

Sister O'Laughlin will reveal how she knows one of Elian's grandmothers wanted to defect and that Juan Gonzalez knew Elian was coming to the U.S. before hand in federal court. She denies basing her opinions on a brief conversation she had with the grandmothers at their meeting with Elian last month. O'Laughlin told the Miami Herald a little about her brief meeting:

"We hugged. They were warm and friendly. They talked to me then. But when the reverend from Cuba and the one from New York came in the room with them, they were cold and frightened with me. They were nasty."

"Sister Jeanne Says Sources on Elian to Come out in Court":


We now know what changed Sister O'Laughlin's mind in regards to Elian. Going into last month's meeting of Elian with his grandmothers, she was neutral on what should happen to Elian. Days after the meeting, her mind was made up. Elian should stay in the U.S. At the time, she publiclly said that she worried about "the fear" she felt from the grandmothers, and what kind of environment that would be for Elian. She stated this in a NY Times op-ed. Now, Sister O'Laughlin has told the Miami Herald that one of the grandmothers told her she wanted to defect. She also says Juan Gonzalez may have been abusive to Elian's mother, Elisabet, and that he probably knew Elisabet was going to take Elian to the U.S. days before they left Cuba.

The report is correct in saying "the credibility of O'Laughlin's account may hinge on the level of her understanding of Spanish." O'Laughlin says she can read and hear Spanish fine, but she doesn't speak it because she doesn't "have the tongue for it."

This quote from O'Laughlin is obvious, yet insightful: "This talk of defecting got me to thinking; if one of the adults wanted out, perhaps it was not a good place for the child."

"Sister Jeanne: Grandma Wanted to Defect":


In Monday's Miami Herald, Sister O'Laughlin denies talking privately with either of Elian's grandmothers, Raquel Rodriguez or Mariela Quintana. In a statement, O'Laughlin said "While some of the specifics noted in The Herald contributed to my decision [to support keeping Elian in Miami], it is untrue that I heard any of that from the grandmothers. Any information attributed to them came from other sources." The newspaper stands by its story. An interesting observation is that O'Laughlin doesn't deny anything in Sunday's story. She doesn't say that one of the grandmothers didn't want to defect; or that Juan didn't know about Elian leaving Cuba days before it happened; or that Juan wasn't abusive to Elisabet. She only says that she didn't speak to the grandmothers alone.

"Nun Denies Private Talk with Elian's Grandmas":

More than 100 people marched across from the White House Saturday demanding Elian's return to communist Cuba. "Custody fights are hard enough when it's just between two parents," one protester, "It's just plain wrong when governments become involved as well." This woman is wrong! Most political theorists would agree that one of the roles of government is to settle disputes where two (or more) parties have conflicting claims. Judges decide where children should live in custody battles. So, in any custody fight the government is involved. One other point, if this woman is so angry that politicians and governments have gotten involved, then she should be screaming at Fidel Castro for 1.) organizing daily rallys in Cuba; and 2.) running a dictatorship where the environment is so toxic that people (like Elian's mother) risk their lives to escape.

"Marchers Demand Elian's Return":

Even though Judge Hoeveler suffered a possible stroke Sunday, the hearing scheduled for Tuesday will not be rescheduled. U.S. District Chief Judge Edward B. Davis will preside in Hoeveler's place.

"Hoeveler, Judge in Elian Case, in Hospital":

Gerard Jackson skewers some Austrailian journalists for cow-towing to Castro.

"Castro's Australian Friends vs Elian":

The LA Times has a long, extensive piece on Elian's family. It talks about how his relatives came to the U.S. and how Elian's arrival has torn the family apart. It's a good background read.

"A Family Divided":


Michael Urbide covered the prayer rally at Miami's Jose Marti Park. Here's an excerpt:

Tommy Amaro, 8 1/2 years old, was brought up to the podium where he spoke. "Me and other kids in the U.S. & America want Elian to stay," said Amaro. After speaking, Amaro was the center of a group prayer where other speakers, demonstrators and prayer rally participants all took park while placing their hands on the head of young Tommy Amaro.

Michael included a powerful photo of the crowd huddled in prayer. So ignore the obnoxious posturing that those in favor of Elian staying in the U.S. are opposed to family values. That photo shows clearly that we believe in faith, family, and freedom. We have faith that one day, Elian will live with his entire family in freedom.

Michael Urbide's coverage of 2.19 prayer rally:

Thomas Sowell doesn't think much of Juan Gonzalez's saying he wants Elian with him in Cuba:

If that desire were real, the boy's father could have come over on the same plane as his grandmothers, so that there would be no question as to what he really wants.

Sowell then wonders why all these liberal church groups and Congressmen want Elian returned:

Politically, it is going to look bad if Elian stays and worse yet if his father and his family come over here to a custody hearing and defect. It would set back years of work that liberals have put in to prepare the public for official recognition of the Castro regime. Indeed, it would be a black eye for liberals in general for the role they have long played as "useful idiots" for Castro and other despots of the left.

It sounds like being nice to an evil man like Castro is more important than the well-being of a little boy. Now, ask yourself who's playing politics in this case?

"Elian: Sacrificial Lamb?":


I want to apologize for not updating the past few days. I share an office with an accountant, and tax season is in full gear. Hopefully, I can figure out a solution to these time and space constraints so it doesn't happen again. Anyway, on to the news.

"If the attorney general wishes to remove Elian to Cuba, she cannot do so without first considering his asylum request." So said Lazaro Gonzalez to Judge William Hoeveler.

"Miami Relatives Making New Effort to Keep Cuban Boy":

A Brazilian "human rights" commission demands the U.S. return Elian to communist Cuba. If this commission really cared about Elian's human rights, they would cry out at how the Cuban government monitors its citizens; how they imprison anyone who appears to be a threat to the Castro's government; or how Cubans are so bad off they pay smugglers and risk their lives to escape to the U.S. (like Elian's mother did). Since when did this become a U.S./Cuba/Brazil issue? They should mind their own business.

"Brazilian Panel Demands U.S. Return Elian to Cuba":

Tuesday, evangelist, K. A. Paul reiterated his claim that Juan Gonzalez really wants his son to stay in the U.S. Paul bases this on three unnamed sources who his says, "have no reason to lie." Then why is Juan publically demanding Elian's return? Paul says it's because of pressure from the Cuban government. That wouldn't surprise me. Paul also announced a prayer rally on Saturday (2.19) in Miami. If any readers attend or hear anything about this, please email me.

"Evangelist: Elian's Father Wants Boy in U.S.":

Since last November, the Cuban government has undertaken the worst dissident crackdown in 10 years. Kidnapping, torture, and show trials are what could happen to Elian if he goes back and decides to speak out at Cuban atrocities.

"Castro's Crackdown Worsens, Critics Say":

Juan may come to the U.S. It's not clear where he would go (Washington, D.C. to lobby congress or Miami to stand before Judge Hoeveler's court). The U.S. government said Juan has not requested a visa.

A group of religious leaders and Congressmen have declared that Elian would be better off as another oppressed victim in Cuba. It's not a surprise that the members of the group were all Democrats and leftist church leaders.

"Coalition to Lobby for Elian's Return":

If you thought Janet Reno was being fair and judicial in this whole affair, her decision not to meet with Elian should prove otherwise. One of her underlings said any meeting with Elian was "unnecessary" because Lazaro and his family could give her any new information. This woman could meet with Elian's teary-eyed grandmothers, but refuses to meet with the most important person in the whole affair. Just like she didn't have the guts to take full responsiblity for the disaster in Waco, TX, Reno doesn't have the guts to look straight into the eyes of little Elian Gonzalez and tell him he can't live in freedom. Shame on you Ms. Reno!

The Justice Department decided not to take Elian out of Lazaro Gonzalez's home. Officials said it would be too much of a distruption for Elian.

"INS Won't Change Elian's Custodian":

Elian's father, Juan Gonzalez (with the help of Fidel's thugs no doubt) wrote another letter to Janet Reno. Like his first letter, Juan demands the INS enforce its decision to send Elian back to Cuba. "The administration should proceed immediately to put an end to this kidnapping," wrote Juan, "and return my son to me without further delay." He also repeats his request that for the time being, Elian should live with his uncle Manolo Gonzalez instead of Lazaro Gonzalez. Manolo has stated the Elian should be sent back to Cuba. What Juan's letter has done is delay the Justice Department's response to Juan's first letter. My guess is that this piece of propaganda was sent out to rally the spirits of Cuban protesters. It's hard to keep up daily protests when no new news occurs.

"Elian's Father Writes Reno: 'Put an End to this Kidnapping'":


Next Tuesday's (2.22) hearing in U.S. District Court Judge William Hoeveler's courtroom will be about whether Judge Hoeveler has jurisdiction to force the INS to hold a asylum hearing for Elian. Yesterday, Elian's lawyers, Roger Bernstein and Linda Osberg-Braun argued that the INS is denying Elian his due process rights, and "the Supreme Court has never withheld due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment from unadmitted aliens." They go on to say that Elian's "right to petition and to be provided an opportunity to substantiate the asylum claim is completely protected."

INS lawyers argue that Hoeveler has no authority over the case because federal courts do not normally review agency decisions.

If Judge Hoeveler decides he has jurisdiction, the trial to force the INS to hold an asylum hearing would take place in early March.

"Relatives Press for Hearing on Elian Asylum":

Juan Gonzalez wrote another letter to Janet Reno demanding the return of his son. "The administration should proceed immediately to put an end to this kidnapping and return my son to me without further delay," wrote Juan with probable help from the Castro regime.

"Elian's father Writes Reno: 'Put an End to this Kidnapping'":


The Washington Post has a prep piece for next week's court hearings. It talks about Elian's divided family and what the grandmother's and uncle's revelations mean for Elian's legal case.

"Family Feud, Global Debate":

Doug Bandow has a sensible solution to this mess:

First, take the case away from the INS, which used a frivolous technicality to assert its jurisdiction and acted with unseemly haste in deciding to return Elian. This most politically minded administration seems more interested in enhancing relations with Havana than protecting the freedom of a 6-year-old kid.

Second, let a court hold a custody hearing to determine what is in Elian's "best interests." Request that Juan Gonzalez, the two grandmothers, and any other immediate family members appear in the courtroom, free from Cuban coercion, to explain what they want for the child. And promise them asylum if they want to stay in America.

Then, if the court decides that the best option is to return Elian, so be it. If it is to keep him here, so much the better. Who would want to have to choose between family and freedom?

This has been my stance all along. There is one big problems. First, Juan doesn't want to come to the U.S. to make his claim for his son. If the rumors are true, and Juan secretly wants Elian to live in freedom, then there's no way Castro will allow Juan to leave. Fidel has relished this opportunity to rally Cubans he's oppressed for years and will do all he can to not lose this PR war.

What then?

The Miami relatives could try legal stall tactics. If appeal after appeal took long enough, Elian might be an adult where he could make his own decision on where to live. The case becomes moot. Or the case could be argued so long that a judge would decide that it was in Elian's best interests for him to remain in the U.S. because he would be so acclimated to his new surroundings.

Time is Elian's best friend. The longer he stays in the U.S., the more he bonds with his surrogate mother Marisleysis Gonzalez, the better Elian's chances for sympathy from a judge.

One thing to ponder is election politics. In the fall, Al Gore will want to win Florida and collect all their electoral votes. I wouldn't be surprised if the INS does something nice for Elian so Al Gore can take credit and win the state. That sounds really cynical, but this administration is capable of anything.

"Balancing Family and Freedom":


Antonio Benedi writes:

In Cuba, Elian would be just another victim of the communist-controlled economy and the frequent food shortages they cause. In Cuba, Elian would be treated like one of many human cattle, and told by the government where he must live and where he must work. Even if he were to become one of those "privileged" citizens of Cuba who are permitted to work for foreign companies or are given permits to be self-employed farmers, he would find himself subject to exorbitant taxes designed to keep him powerless and in poverty.

"Freedom and Hope for Young Elian":

Timothy McSweeny tries to make light of Elian's story, but to no avail.

Elian: the Musical:


The Washington Post has a short profile on Elian's surrogate mother, second-cousin, Marisleysis Gonzalez. She says Elian has bonded to her since he came to the U.S. Elian sleeps in Marisleysis' room, and she adamantly denies that Elian has ever asked to go back to Cuba.

"Cousin Says Elian Clings to Her and Life in America":

Proponents of Elian's return to Cuba have argued that letting Elian remain in the U.S. violates international law. They are probably referring to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This document binds signatory countries to return children to their custodial parents. The U.S. is a signatory, but Cuba isn't. Even if Cuba was, Article 13 of the convention allows judges to not return children to their custodial parents if it "would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation." Sending a six-year old back to a communist dictatorship qualifies as "psychological harm" and an "intolerable situtation."

Not only do we win the moral argument, we win the legal one too.

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

A Chicago church organization is wrongly asking for Elian's return to Cuba.

"Church Delegation Calls for Elian's Return to Cuba":


The Justice Department is reviewing the fitness of Lazaro Gonzalez as Elian's temporary guardian. This review comes after the media discovered Lazaro's many drunk driving convictions.

"Justice Dept. Looks into DUIs of Elian's Relatives Great-uncle's Custody of Cuban boy at Issue":

Any of these silly notions that Elian's Miami relatives "kidnapped" Elian should be put to rest. They want Elian with his father too, but as Georgina Cid said Thursday, "in a free country."

"Justice Officials Probe Records of Elian's Kin":


Sister O'Laughlin will be visiting Washington, D.C. next week on behalf of Elian.

"Miami Nun To Visit Washington for Cuban Boy":

I am the first to admit that Elian's Miami relatives aren't the Cleavers or the Bradys. Two of Elian's uncles, including Lazaro Gonzalez have been convicted of drunk driving. One of Lazaro's nephews is in prison while another is awaiting trial on robbery charges. All these people have been in contact with Elian since he arrived in the U.S.

Castro allies who want Elian returned to communist Cuba are jumping on these facts. Castro flack, Ricardo Alarcon said, "Practically everyone surrounding him either has been, or may be in the future, joining the prison system in the U.S. That's not the best interest of the child." For Alarcon, the "best interests" of Elian is to send him back to a country where thousands have been killed and imprisoned for political reasons. It would be "best" if Elian live in a country where the government keeps extensive files on everyone, and citizens inform on one another. No, Elian would be better off "in a nation where freedom from fear is a way of life" (to use Kilari Anand Paul's words), than in a totalitarian dictatorship.

But these criminal pasts may affect Lazaro's request for custody of Elian. The courts may find that his home isn't the best place for Elian. That doesn't mean Elian should be returned to Cuba. I would have to see clear evidence of abuse before I would even consider sending Elian back to Cuba, where he would be assured of abuse and oppression.

"Elian Said Surrounded by Drunks":

"Relatives' Arrest Record Complicates Elian Battle":

"Arrest Record Complicates Battle for Elian":

"Elian Kin's DUI Cases Detailed":

On Wednesday (2.09), Elian's second cousins, Marisleysis Gonzalez and Georgina Cid, met with Congressmen in Washington, D.C. They are lobbying for a bill that would make Elian a U.S. citizen. Many congressmen have stated they have no position, but Cardenas, Washington director of the Cuban American National Foundation, said "some momentum has been swinging back our way as people get to know the issues." All that could mean is that some congressmen were nodding their heads a little more enthusiastically. The bill has stalled, so public pressure is urgently needed. Sign the petition and let your voice be heard!

Marisleysis Gonzalez and Georgina Cid are still waiting for a meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno. A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, but it was canceled by the relatives because of concerns about "their legal strategy." I bet it had something to do with the DUI revelations.

Now, the relatives want a one-on-one meeting between Reno and Elian. The relatives feel it would be consistent with Reno's meeting with Elian's grandmothers last month, and it would allow Elian to personally tell Reno he wants to stay in the U.S. If this meeting takes place, I'm guessing it won't change Reno's mind one bit. For a liberal, she's cold. Remember, she was head of the Justice Department during the tragedy in Waco. She also won't stray from the White House. Her stonewalling on any campaign finance investigations on Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign shows her loyalty.

"Elian's Miami Cousins Meet with Members of Congress in D.C.":

"Elian's Miami Relatives ask Reno for One-on-one Meeting with Boy":

Castro has tried to appear to be a family unifier by demanding Elian's return. Charles Lane writes that this isn't like Castro. He tells the story of Grave de Peralta. He was exiled from Cuba for "rebellion through peaceful means." His sons are free to leave Cuba, but his wife must stay.

"Castro's Family Values":


It's been pretty slow news-wise the past few days, but some stories have come up.

Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's uncle in Miami, has filed a complaint with Miami police stemming from last week's admission of questionable conduct by Elian's grandmother, Mariela Quintana. Quintana admitted on Cuban television that at her 1.26 meeting with Elian, she bit Elian's tongue and unzipped his pants.

"Elian Gonzalez's Great-uncle Files Police Complaint Against Grandmother":

Castro's propaganda machine has produced some more pollution--I mean news. According to Granma Elisabet Brotons was forced by her boyfriend, Lazaro Munero to go on the boat ride that lead to her death. Since, I can't find the Granma article on their web site, I am going by what the AP has written about it. The article paints Munero as a woman-beater, a smuggler and thief, while it describes Elisabet as a member of various communist groups.

I'll take the story for what it's worth--about 2 pesos. I'm sure there's a kernel of truth in the report--good propaganda uses some truth. What I wonder about is who Lazaro Munero really was. The Cuban government didn't seem to like him. He may have been as bad as the report states, but he may have also been an "enemy of the state" that played a small role in bringing freedom to some Cubans. What Granma calls "smuggling" others would call bringing people to freedom.

"Cubans: Elian's Mom Was Bullied":

Finally, some common sense from a major media outlet. The Miami Herald opposes Juan Miguel's request that Elian be taken from Lazaro Gonzalez's home.

Right now, 6-year-old Elian needs stability. Since his mother died at sea, Elian appears to have bonded with his 21-year-old second cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez, to whom he reportedly has transferred his maternal love.

"Elian Needs Stability":

One U.S. congressman is on Elian's side. Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) wrote me a letter responding to my concerns. I've put the entire letter online.

Letter from Rep. James Sensenbrenner:


My tacky-meter just went through the roof! Altavista was considering using Elian for an Internet advertising campaign. I'm all for innovative ad methods in a free market, but such crass commercial exploitation would only play into the hands of Castro and his sympathizers.

"Elian Won't Appear in Internet Ads":

Elian's Miami relatives want to meet Janet Reno when they visit Washington, D.C. this week. Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) asked Reno to meet with them so they may give her new information on the case. This seems fair. Reno's met with Elian's grandmothers and Sister O'Laughlin. Maybe this new information will persuade Reno to reverse her support of the INS's decision to send Elian back to communist Cuba.

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) has scheduled meetings with congressmen and Elian's relatives. CANF is also putting together a "chronology of events" to support claims that Juan Miguel Gonzalez telephoned the Miami relatives while Elian was at sea coming to the U.S. The report also claims Elian lived with his mother and her boyfriend for three years, and Elian was born three years after Elian's parent's were divorced. Is CANF going to claim that Juan Miguel Gonzalez isn't Elian's father? I smell a paternity conflict with DNA testing on the way if this is true.

Imagine if Juan isn't Elian's father. Then who has legal claim to Elian, the Miami family he's been living with since last Thanksgiving? Elian's maternal grandmother? the state of Florida? the U.S. government? This story is starting to get weird.

In his return from a visit to Cuba, Kilari Anand Paul, president of the Global Peace Initiative said Juan Miguel Gonzalez is being controlled by Castro and he wants his son to stay in the U.S. "While virtually every move I made was monitored," said Paul, "I was able to speak to credible sources who have indicated that Elian's father wants his son to remain in a nation where freedom from fear is a way of life. It is the ultimate sacrifice a father can make and requires unimaginable courage." I definitely question the INS's claims that Juan was under no coercion during their interviews with him.

"Elian's Miami Relatives Seek Meeting With Reno":

"Elian's Relatives Traveling to D.C.":

I finally found Sen. Mack's (R-FL) bill that would make Elian a U.S. citizen. It's S.1999 in the Senate and H.R.3531 in the House of Representatives.

Elian Gonzalez Bill:


In a letter to Janet Reno, Juan Miguel Gonzalez asked that Elian be taken from Lazaro Gonzalez and given to Lazaro's brother Manolo. Juan is angry at the access to Elian by the media, anti-Castro organizers, and psychologists. Juan continues to demand Elian's return to Cuba in accordance with the 1.5.00 decision by the INS.

I don't know if it has anything to do with the letter's translation, but the tone is much too lawyerly. The letter talks about "compliance" and "implementation;" and the demand of credentials of any psychologist in contact with Elian and background information on anyone who has entered Lazaro Gonzalez's home are somethings only a lawyer would think about. The safe conclusion is that the Cuban government helped Juan with the letter. The real question is how much of it is Juan speaking and how much of it is the words of Castro?

Some government officials welcome the letter, seeing it as an opportunity for the INS to not look weak to anti-Castro protesters in South Florida. Other officials think any attempt to move Elian would enrage protesters and anger U.S. Judge William M. Hoeveler, who will hold a hearing on 2.22 regarding Elian's asylum request.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez's letter to Janet Reno (2.03.00):

"Father Wants Elian Moved to Another Relative's Home":

I don't know what to make of Mariela Quintana biting Elian's tongue and unzipping his pants during their meeting 1.26. Armando Gutierrez, spokesman for Elian's Miami relatives said, "That is not a Cuban custom." Angry Miami viewers who saw the interview with Quintana called the Miami television station that broadcasted it, but few people in Cuba made anything about it. At least, that's what the communist government probably wants us to think. Uva de Aragon, assistant director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University took the standard cultural relativistic stance saying people in the U.S. just don't understand Cuban customs. Florida's Department of Children and Families interviewed Elian and he confirmed what Quintana said happened.

"Cuban Grandma's Account Stuns Family":

"Elian Gonzales' Grandma in Cuban TV Shocker":

"Abuse Inquiry in Elian Case":


Some Florida Congressmen are uncommitted to the Elian citizenship bill in Congress. Reps. Carrie Meek (D-FL), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Clay Shaw (R-FL), and Mark Foley (R-FL) were mentioned in a Miami Herald article.

Sister O'Laughlin followed up her op-ed in the NY Times by lobbying 20 senators urging them to support Sen. Connie Mack's (R-FL) citizenship bill. (I'll link to the legislation as soon as possible.)

"Elian Citizenship Bill Troubles Area Lawmakers":

Guillaume Debré documents the coercion the communist Cuban government has used in those protests, "One clerk I met told me she and her colleagues at a state-owned company were ordered to attend the demonstrations. She chanted with thousands of other Cubans, but, she asked, 'Did I really have the choice?'" wrote Debré.

"Seeing is Believing: How Cuba Let Me Down":


The upcoming court battles may allow Elian to live in freedom for months--even years. Former INS official, Jan Ting said, "''It looks like we're going down a very long road."

"Legal Struggle over Cuban Boy could Drag on With Elian Dispute in Court, it's Likely to be 'Very Long Road':

In response to Sister O'Laughlin's observation that Elian's grandmothers appeared to be under pressure from the Cuban government at last week's meeting with Elian, Raquel Rodriguez called her a "lying person." During an interview on government television, the grandmothers also complained about many interruptions during the meeting and not being able to have a cell phone.

"Elian Grandmas Anguish Over Visit":

Chris Weinkopf praises Sister O'Laughlin for making Castro's "celebratory cigar" explode "in his face."

"Fidel's Useful Idiots Meet Their Match":


In today's NY Times, Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin wrote an op-ed explaining why Elian should remain in the U.S. Her first reason is the bond she sees between Elian and his cousin who has become the primary care giver. The second reason is her mistrust of the Cuban government. At last week's meeting, she felt the Cuban government wanted "to exert control over these events." She also thinks Elian's father must be under tremendous pressure in Cuba. "What, if not fear, could keep a person from making a 30-minute trip to reclaim his son? And what might Elián's father fear, if not the authoritarian Cuban government itself? Could we send the boy back to a climate that may be full of fear without at least a fair hearing in a family court?" wrote O'Laughlin.

"Why I Changed My Mind About Elián": [registration required]

Elian's Miami home will soon have a fence installed to block media access to Elian. "This is a child, not a tourist attraction," said family spokesman Armando Gutierrez.

"Family Seeks to Block Press' View of Elian":

1.31.00's "The Modern World" unfairly compares the struggle between freedom (U.S.) and communism (Cuba) with the difference in material goods between New York and Arkansas.

Tom Tomorrow refuses to accept the fact that in Cuba, Elian would have a father but no freedom to work where he wants or to spend money as he wishes.

"The Modern World":

Sean Hackbarth
Allenton, WI
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