- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2000

A team of Cuban psychologists is currently monitoring Elian Gonzalez in his temporary classroom before he returns to his former school in Cardenas.

Back in that classroom, Elian's education like that of all Cuban children, will conform with Article 39 of the Cuban Constitution (adapted in 1976): "The education of children and young people in the spirit of communism is the duty of all society." And Article 5 of Cuba's law No. 16 (the Children and Youth Code) "requires all adults who come in contact with the child to set an example and help mold the child's 'communist personality.' "

This concern is carried out in very specific ways. Teachers keep a cumulative dossier on every child. As described in his book, "Cuba, Mito y Realida" (Sacta Ediciones, Miami-Caracas), Juan Clark, professor of sociology at Miami-Dade Community College, notes that each student's academic development is charted along with his political grades, including the extent to which he or she participates in such organizations as "the Communist Pioneers and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution," which consist of block-watch committees.

These neighborhood monitors are not as plentiful as they used to be because economic conditions require a lot of scurrying to make a living, but they do the best they can. Roger Hernandez, who left Cuba with his family years ago, keeps informed of conditions there, and notes in his syndicated King Features column (Washington Post, April 29): "Parents who fail to provide their Elians with a proper Marxist-Leninist formation can lose custody and face charges of 'hindering the normal development of the child.' "

In "The Black Book of Communism," published by Harvard University Press last year, Pascal Fontaine describes the larger society in which Elian will grow up: "The Direccion Special del Ministerie del Interior (DSMI) recruits chivatos (informers) by the thousand. The DSMI works in three different fields: One section keeps a file on every Cuban citizen; another keeps track of public opinion; the third, in charge of the 'ideological line,' keeps an eye on the church and its various congregations through infiltration."

I expect that visitors to Cuba from this country's National Council of Churches which has been persistently helpful to Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, in his efforts to get his son back are not under surveillance by the DSMI. After all, the chartered plane returning Elian to Cuba was sponsored by the National Council of Churches. Did any of its members object?

Interviewing political prisoners who have been released and left Cuba, I have been told and this has been confirmed by Tom Fiedler of the Miami Herald, who writes on Cuban life and politics that students are encouraged to take note of indications that their parents' "communist personalities" are becoming flawed.

Elian could no longer have been given asylum here for fear that he would be subject to political persecution in Cuba. He has already been programmed by those who took him from Miami, and has signed a Father's Day card to Fidel Castro. The card was also signed by Elian's father, stepmother and five school friends of Elian who had been staying with Elian here. The card sent "an affectionate greeting, and a well-deserved kiss, to one father who we love dearly for his unrivaled teachings and his infinite love for us, our Commander-in-Chief."

It does not appear likely that Elian will require much of a period of readjustment in his homeland. He is indeed loved by his father by both of his fathers.

When the last appeal to an American court to prevent Elian's return was denied, Gregory Craig, the lawyer for Elian's father, said that the family "looks forward to resuming a normal life" in Cuba.

With few exceptions, the American press agrees with the Clinton-Reno cheering of Elian's return. It has forgotten that in this country where Elian and his mother sought refuge custody cases are decided "in the best interests" of the child. But this child will now be educated through the lesson plans of a dictatorship.

As for the National Council of Churches, it is a strange religious faith that has persistently worked to send the boy to a country where the state regulates who is free to exercise his or her religion and in what way. Do all the rank and file members of the National Council of Churches agree with its leaders' partnership with Fidel Castro in the fate of this child?

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