“One should never abandon propaganda for one moment,” Fidel Castro wrote in 1954. “It is the soul of all struggles.” The carefully orchestrated visit to the United States by Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of 6-year-old Elian, shows how far the Cuban dictator is willing to go to follow his own rules. Although Mr. Gonzalez is here, there is no evidence to suggest he is “free.”
Three months ago, Cuban officials moved Mr. Gonzalez from his home into a government compound. The regime explained it did so to protect the father from hordes of media said to have descended on him since the controversy began as if the media could do anything Fidel Castro didn’t want them to do. It’s wonderfully considerate of the regime to protect him from too much coverage, but the move adds to concerns that Mr. Gonzalez is not acting or speaking freely. His lawyer, Gregory Craig, acknowledged Sunday the defiant statement Mr. Gonzalez read upon his arrival happened to have been written with the help of the Cuban government. Not to worry, Mr. Craig said: Mr. Gonzalez believed everything the Cuban government wrote for him.
Further, in an interview with Attorney General Janet Reno Sunday, ABC’s Cokie Roberts reported that Mr. Gonzalez’s own parents were now “apparently” being held in a government compound themselves. Miss Reno did not bother to dispute this remarkable piece of news. Cubans who have left the island have repeatedly said the regime had threatened to harm their extended families if they spoke out or escaped. Since Mr. Gonzalez has his mother and other family members in Cuba, he remains under Mr. Castro’s firm control, even if he is on free soil now. Not surprisingly, he says he wants to take Elian back to Cuba. Miss Reno said Friday she wants Elian returned to his father’s custody this week.
President Clinton has worked hard to keep the focus off the Cuban dictatorship and on the Cuban exile community in Miami. Last week, he told reporters that there’s a bloc of Cuban Americans “for whom this is a fight against Castro, the president of Cuba. There’s another bloc of them who honestly believe that the process by which the determination was made was flawed.” The president seems to suggest that somehow the fight against Mr. Castro isn’t an “honest” one. In addition, he seems to be reducing the opposition to a mere “bloc,” as though it were some fringe group. One would hope that all supporters of democracy, inalienable rights and freedom are staunchly opposed to the rule of a brutal dictator. But throughout the whole Elian saga, the Clinton administration has made only sparing acknowledgments that Cuba is indeed under the grip of a despot.
Mr. Clinton went on to say that he hoped his administration could find a “principled resolution that is not just a train wreck for the child, a train wreck for the rule of law, or a train wreck for all concerned.” If Elian returns to Cuba, he has as much chance of avoiding the “train wreck” as Cubans have of obtaining a free and fair election on the island. To argue otherwise is to succumb to the propaganda of which dictator Castro wrote so long ago.