The Guardian May 3, 2000

Elian's rescue forced by popular pressure

The massive April 22nd raid by US forces on the Cuban emigres holding 
six-year-old Elian Gonzalez was a belated attempt by the White House to get 
back on side with the majority of US public opinion, which was 
overwhelmingly in favour of the boy being reunited with his father. US 
propaganda notwithstanding, most Americans were unfazed by the fact that 
that would mean Elian's returning to Cuba.

Committees set up to campaign for the boy's return home, groups like 
Pastors For Peace, even conservative newspapers, demanded that the 
Administration quit stalling and organise his return.

There were demonstrations outside the White House and a massive number of 
calls to the Justice Department.

When a US appeals court incredibly ruled that a six-year-old child could 
apply for political asylum in his own right without reference to his 
parents, in the words of British paper The Independent "the ruling 
horrified large numbers of American parents, who jammed talkshow phonelines 
and internet chatrooms to complain about the potential erosion of parental 

The decision horrified people outside the US too. "What would become of the 
fathers in the Third World if that position becomes generalised!, warned 
Fidel Castro.

The action of the US administration in rescuing Elian from his distant 
relatives and their vehemently anti-communist backers in the Miami emigre 
community was praised by the Cuban leader.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 39th anniversary of the defeat of the 
mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs, Fidel noted that US President Bill 
Clinton had "acted nobly in this case, thus doing a service not only to the 
boy but also to the United States itself.

Fidel also praised the efforts of US Attorney General Janet Reno and 
Immigration and Naturalisation Service Commissioner Doris Meissner, and 
recognised the role played by US public opinion.

Meissner and Reno  especially the latter  have come under attack from 
right-wing Republicans over the rescue of Elian.

Fidel said that April 22 was a day of truce between the United States and 
Cuba, perhaps the only such day in the last 41 years.

Although Elian has been reunited with his father and the manipulation of 
the child for the media by the Miami relatives (which even US child 
psychologists dubbed "child abuse) has been ended, he is not home yet and 
there are still efforts being made to prevent his leaving the US.

However, Elian's father is determined to return to Cuba with his son and he 
has demonstrated his courage and tenacity in this struggle already.

It was his announced intention of going with his wife to confront the Miami 
relatives that apparently forced Janet Reno's hand. The father's killing in 
Miami would have been a public relations disaster for the US.

As for the "outrage expressed over the heavily armed force that rescued the 
boy, who better than the US administration to be aware of the number and 
type of weapons available to the right-wing Cuban organisations in Miami.

After all, the US administration must supply a lot of them.

Back to index page