- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

Ramon Saul Sanchez, leader of the Democracy Movement, says he will bring tens of thousands of Cuban-Americans out in protest if Elian Gonzalez is forcibly removed from his great-uncle's house in Little Havana. He spoke with Tom Carter in front of the house, where he has been coordinating a street vigil.

Question: Now that Elian's father has arrived in the U.S. how have your plans changed?

Answer: The community would love to see the father come here, sit down under the same roof and talk about his child's fate. What the community is unwilling to do is wrap him up and send him to the Cuban Interests Section so that Castro can pick him up and take him to Cuba.

Q: What about the father's speech at Dulles airport Thursday?

A: It was obviously a statement written by the government… . It is obvious there is a design here to maintain friction in the family so a family reunion does not take place because Castro is afraid of that.

Q: What are you planning in the way of a demonstration or civil disobedience?

A: Our plans today are to keep on alert… . We hope that this can be resolved in a civilized manner. We hope the dialogue continues until they find a solution. We do not want to disturb the community. We want one simple thing, that this little boy's civil rights are respected.

Q: The INS says they want to turn the boy over in three days. If [Elian's great-uncle] Lazaro [Gonzalez] does not agree, would that trigger demonstrations?

A: Lazaro has said he will follow the law. We will follow the Constitution of the United States and within the Constitution of the United States, we might do something that is very American, which is to defend through civil disobedience the Constitution of the United States.

Q: The talks have been postponed until Saturday. What is the situation right now?

A: I think everybody feels relief that the dialogue continues and hopeful that a reasonable solution can be achieved at the end of the process. There has been a lot of tension here in the last couple of days but now everybody is hoping that the government is listening to the family and the family will find a solution that takes into account the psychological fragility of this child.

Q: Do you get the feeling the government is beginning to take those concerns into account?

A: Up to this point I do not get that feeling… . The family wants psychiatrists to check the boy to see if a transfer of custody is in his best interests and if it is, they want the transfer to take place here. I do not see why the government would not allow [a] psychologist, independent from the family, to conduct whatever examinations they have to conduct to access Elian Gonzalez's psychological situation.

Q: The father has said he will not come to Miami to talk with "the kidnappers."

A: Unfortunately, the father is not talking for himself. That is the Cuban government. What father would not go to the ends of the world to be next to his son? In this case, the Cuban government is obviously manipulating the circumstances and manipulating the father and public opinion as well.

Q: The INS says that if Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, comes here and takes custody of the child, there is no legal reason for him to remain in the United States while the appeals process goes forward. They say he may stay, but that is voluntary.

A: If he is kept in the Cuban Interests Section, it is like being in Cuba under the control of the Cuban dictator. What we are asking for is for the Cuban government to allow him to come out, to reunite with the family and to talk in a family environment. I think the Cuban government is afraid of doing that because in the end it fears Juan Miguel might defect.

Q: You have said you have 2,000 trucks on standby to tie up Miami traffic on two hours notice. Are you still in contact with the truckers?

A: We are always in contact [with] people, and there are a lot of people here who are willing to help. But our position is that we don't want to talk about negative aspects, we want to find a positive attitude and that is calling upon the good will of everyone involved to do whatever is in their power to help this family reunite, whether in Miami or wherever they choose to do and to talk about Elian's fate and to decide it among themselves. Everyone else is out of the picture. This community will gladly see Juan Miguel come here, or wherever, and reunite with the family and will accept the outcome of those conversations.

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