- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

The hot sun and legal maneuvering kept Miami's Little Havana district on edge yesterday, waiting for a court to rule on the fate of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez.
The boy's Miami relatives prayed for a decision by the federal appeals court in Atlanta to keep the child in the country.
The Justice Department's efforts to reunite Elian with his Cuban father, who is staying at a diplomat's home in Bethesda, Md., remained in limbo pending court action that could come at any time.
"We will wait for the court to rule and then we will move," Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman Maria Cardona said.
Elian's Miami family has largely confined itself to the small house and yard in recent days, even celebrating a private Palm Sunday service at home.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has been asked by the Justice Department to suspend a temporary injunction issued Thursday calling for the boy to remain in this country during a court appeal filed by the Miami relatives.
Family spokesman Armando Gutierrez distributed a three-page press statement yesterday reiterating the family's contention that great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez has not violated the law, even though he ignored an Immigration and Naturalization Service deadline last week to deliver the boy to his Cuban father.
The family also accused federal officials of ignoring their warnings that Elian will face grave dangers if he is forced to return to Cuba.
"Stated simply, it would be irrational, even absurd, to suggest that [Cuban President Fidel] Castro would allow the most visible 6-year-old in the world to walk freely on Cuban soil, expressing how upset he is about being forced back to Cuba, describing how much he loved living in the U.S. and how badly he wants to return," the family said in yesterday's statement.
In Washington, the INS released a letter from the pediatrician who has been advising the government on Elian in which he urged that the boy be removed from the Miami relatives because he was being "horrendously exploited."
"Elian Gonzalez is now in a state of imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider to be psychologically abusive," Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of community pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York, wrote in the letter.
In Cuba, Mr. Castro's government organized another protest yesterday in the province of Las Tunas, again demanding that Elian be returned with his father to his hometown of Cardenas, Cuba. Additional demonstrations are planned for today.
The stalemate began Thursday when U.S. Appeals Court Judge J.L. Edmondson asked the Justice Department to "forestall any enforcement action" in returning Elian to his father pending the court's review of the appeal, which was filed by attorneys for the boy's great-uncle.
The father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has become increasingly frustrated and angry over the past several days because of the delay. He has said he would remain in this country to wait out the appeal, but only if he has custody of his son.
In Atlanta, appeals court clerk Thomas Kahn said the three-judge panel considered the injunction request over the weekend, although he would not elaborate.
Strong passions were on display just 15 blocks away from the Little Havana bungalow at the Monument of the Martyrs, a site dedicated to the memory of Cuban-American fighters killed in the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs attempt to overthrow Mr. Castro.
Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the landing on the island's southern coast, and a memorial service mixed references to fallen heroes of the 2506 Brigade with promises of support for Elian.
"In that home is the heart of all the exiles," said Ramon Rino Puig, whose brother Manuel was killed in the invasion.
"Let the boy know we are with him," Mr. Puig continued, speaking in Spanish. "Our only cause is the liberation of Cuba, and the whole world can see our fight on display at Elian's house."
The gathering of about 100 was dominated by elderly men, many in blue baseball caps bearing the words: "Brigada de Asalto 2506."
At the base of the torch-topped plinth bearing the names of the more than 100 invaders killed in the assault, someone had placed a portrait of Elian's mother, Elisabeth Brotons, who drowned in the attempt to flee Cuba in November.
The ceremony featured the playing of taps and the Cuban and American national anthems. The roll of the fallen fighters was read off, with the crowd yelling a forceful "presente" as each name was called.
Sporting a new haircut yesterday, Elian was seen occasionally playing on the now-famous backyard swing set outside the Little Havana house.
Lazaro Gonzalez said he had watched his nephew's Sunday night interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," which included a bitter diatribe against the Miami relatives' handling of the case.
Lazaro Gonzalez would not comment on Juan Miguel Gonzalez's charges. During the interview broadcast Sunday evening, Elian Gonzalez was playing in the yard and talking on a cellular phone and apparently did not see his father's comments.
David R. Sands reported from Miami.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide