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"A Letter From Elian"

June 11, 2000

lunchThe Paperless One is sick of it.

Miami relatives, Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives,  Miami relatives!

There!  Now I sound like the media, circa the past few months.  There has been so much hype surrounding these "Miami relatives" that every single Internet domain name that bears any similarity to the term has been registered (editor's note:  if you're a musician, you've made it when Weird Al parodies your songs, and on the Net, you're a staple of pop culture when people start buying up domain names - eg:, yet no one seems to know exactly who these "Miami relatives" are.  

The Paperless One did an experiment last week - I sent out several e-mail messages, asking people to describe WHO (in as specific detail as possible) the MIAMI RELATIVES are.  Not surprisingly, no one had read the CNN primer on the subject.  Several answers were close (there are 4 or 5 of them, they are relatives of Elian Gonzales' mother, they consist of aunts and uncles, etc.), some were dead wrong (there are 50 of them and they have a cult in Miami), and some were bloody ridiculous (they are the backup band for Gloria Estefan, they are a side project of Marilyn Manson band members).  I must confess - I had to look up the matter myself after hearing the term about a million times on the news, and was surprised to find that "the Miami relatives" consist of three great-uncles, a second cousin, and an extended "family" of an entourage that these "concerned relatives" have accumulated to assist them in furthering their agenda.

Not many people remember the agenda, either, or what spawned this major excuse for a news story, anyway.  This is always the case - the more the media talks and says nothing, the more you forget what the original story was.  Okay, how far back do we need to go, here?  Last November, a fisherman found young Elian Gonzales off the coast of Miami, clinging to a raft that had been used by his mother to flee Cuba to be with her relatives in Miami.  Tragically, Elian's mother was killed in this "escape from Cuba", so we are forced to listen to the "Miami relatives" version of the story:

"Elisabeth Brotons died while trying to save her son from a life of oppression in Cuba..."

In actuality, Elian Gonzales was the subject of a custody battle (a point that has long since been forgotten), and "the better life" in the U.S.A. wasn't the real reason why she was placing her son's life in jeopardy - it was merely to avoid losing custody of her child, and to get away from the "system" that may allow her and her boyfriend to lose their child. It was also an opportunity to show up on the doorstep of the "Miami relatives and say "Remember me?"

 When this sort of child-of-custody-battle snatching happens in this country, we call it "kidnapping" and plaster photos of the child all over milk cartons, Wal-Mart entrances, and cable bills.  When this sort of thing happens in a country like Cuba, we call it "escaping oppression".

After all, Cuba IS BAD...right, my American friends?  Your government denies you access to their cigars, and there must be a reason for that, right?  You got it...they are COMMIES, and their leader has FACIAL HAIR!  What more of an explanation do you need?  How can you not believe the "Miami relatives" when their pleas tug at the heartstrings of thousands of Americans and cause riots in the streets of Miami?  

outsideFirst of all, can you even NAME three great-uncles?  Don't expect another e-mail - I didn't think so.  The fact that family of this child that is so far removed from him continues to battle with the United States, suggesting conspiracy theories and U.S. government cover-ups, absolutely amazes me.  What must the boy be thinking?  

The "Miami relatives" have probably never wondered this.  They have never put their political agendas aside long enough to think about what sort of impact these events are having on the child.  After all, it is these loving "Miami relatives" that refused to give Elian back to his father, Juan Miguel Gonzales, and continued to refuse to co-operate to the point that armed goons had to be called in to extract the boy from the hands of Donato Dalrymple , a fisherman who rescued the child from the Atlantic Ocean in November.  Agents wrapped the crying child in a blanket and dashed away with him in a white van. The boy was flown by government jet to Maryland.

All this to keep a boy in the United States.  Sure, the United States is a country that is much richer than Cuba, but is it "better", as these "Miami relatives" claim?  First of all, the United States is a democracy - that's much better than a Communist Dictatorship, right?  Americans have a CHOICE of elected officials, and with that choice, comes the ability to vote for the one candidate who will do EVERYTHING the way you want them too.  Oh yeah, he or she will also make sure that your right to have guns is protected, too.  Secondly, the United States allows its citizens freedom - something that Cubans have none of, as it is all "suppressed by a military regime working directly for Fidel Castro", I am led to believe.  In America, people have FREEDOM.  They can protest things and speak up for what they feel strongly about, without fear of persecution.  Here is an example of such freedom:

Once word spread that Elian had been taken, protesters crowded the streets around the Gonzalez home. Some demonstrators started street fires and struggled with police carrying batons and shields. More than 290 people were arrested.

What is a boy to think of THAT?!?  Imagine the issues that boy has:

bulleta parental custody dispute
bulleta dead mother
bulleta fisherman who won't stop hanging around
bulletpeople that go by the code name "Miami relatives" who won't shut up
bulletarmed goons with guns
bulletU.S. Air Force bases
bulletconspiracy theories involving allegedly touched-up photos
bullethaving these caring relatives fight to keep 

We're still waiting for "a letter from Elian".  What must he think of all this?

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