- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

On Thanksgiving Day last year, Elian Gonzalez was fished out of U.S. waters by a fisherman and his cousin. In what is an uncanny coincidence, the Cuban government confirmed on Thanksgiving Day this year that a 5-year-old Cuban-American boy, Jonathon Colombini, was brought to Cuba from Florida by his mother, Arletis Blanco.

This case, dubbed "Elian in reverse," certainly puts Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in an interesting position. Mrs. Blanco, a Cuban native, took her son to Fidel's island without the consent of the boy's father, Jon Kenneth Colombini. And Mr. Colombini is now fighting to get his son back.

After Fidel waxed so moralistic on family values during the Elian saga, he can hardly brush off Mr. Colombini's demands. So the Cuban despot is trying to assume a judicious stance on the reverse Elian case. "Cuban authorities are willing to offer all necessary facilities to process any claim or litigation that results from this case, so as to resolve the problem as quickly as possible in accordance with appropriate legal procedure, absolute impartiality and a spirit of justice."

Just what are the "legal procedures" on an island where Fidel is the law? Since it is very likely that Mrs. Blanco fled the United States with her son to escape extortion charges, Mr. Colombini shouldn't expect her to pop back into Florida any time soon. And sadly, Mr. Colombini is not getting the same vociferous support that benefited Elian's father.

Where is the backing of the National Council of Churches, Hollywood, and President Bill Clinton? At face value, it would appear Mr. Colombini's case merits considerable empathy. Mrs. Blanco has apparently stolen a boy from his father, subjected him to life under a repressive regime, all in a self-serving scheme to escape prosecution she would face in America.

But for inexplicable reasons, the chorus of outrage is only heard from these influential sectors when a child is to be delivered to Fidel's island not when he would be delivered from it. Arianne Horta, who escaped on the same ill-fated boat ride as Elian Gonzalez, is all too familiar with this double standard. Mrs. Horta has been unable to bring her six-year-old daughter, Estefani, who lives in Cuba, to the United States. Unfortunately, few Americans have ever heard of Estefani.

Those who clamored to reunite Elian with his father should be ashamed of not demonstrating the same zeal for Jonathon and Estefani.

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