- Politics is keeping Elian Gonzalez from his father,
and it's time that he is returned.
- It's already been too long. The tortuous
four-month-old custody battle over the boy rescued at sea
last November continues to play out in the ts and in
Washington. And now, the political brawl has taken an
ugly turn. E1ian's relatives in Miami, who have temporary
custody of him and are seeking to block his return to
Cuba, stooped to criticizing the boy's father, Juan
Miguel GonzAlez. Attempting to whip up public sentiment
for their cause, the relatives have suggested that the
father is somehow unfit to care for his son.
- How do they know? Why are they oi~ly now raising this
question? And what gives them or the court the right to
decide such a thing? Do we really want the government
sitting in judgment of every father when there no
apparent cause of action? How would the United States
react if its role and Cuba's were reversed?
- After leveling those charges against Elian's father
earlier this week, a lawyer representing the boy's
American relatives acknowledged on television that they
had no proof.
- "We're sure he loves his own son," admitted the
lawyer, Linda Osberg
- Braun, "and we know Elian loves his father."
- Making political hay over a 6-year- old's tragedy
of losing a mother may only compound his misery, experts
say. Ken Dachman, a child psychologist in Chicago, said
he worried that EliAn's Miami relatives "are shaping this
child so I don't think he will ever be able to recover
fully." Mr. Dachman, who is familiar with the case,
warned that the little boy would be "shadowed for a long
time by feelings of distrust."
- Elizabeth Loftus, a psychology professor at the
University of Washington and a leading expert on memory
in children, said any child as young as Elian would be
particularly susceptible to suggestiQns that could alter
his memory of his father.
- Sadly, Elian's well-being seems to have little
effect on the poisonous political rhetoric coming from
Miami and Washington.
- Some conservatives see this case as a long-sought
opportunity to stick a finger in the eye of Fidel Castro.
Let me say unequivocally that I am second to none in my
dislike for Mr. Castro's totalitarian regime. But let's
be reasonable. EliAn is a little boy who has lost his
mother and desperately needs his father.
- This is a family issue, first and foremost. To
forget that and allow our hatred for the Cuban regime to
keep us from doing what is best for the child is
shameful. It's already a tragedy that the child lost his
mother; it would be a travesty for our government to come
between him and his father.
- I came to Washington with the deep-seated belief
that the family is sovereign. You can't be for family
values and at the same time advocate that governments be
allowed to come between a father and his child.
- What a tragic mistake it would be for society to
allow the state or federal government to determine what's
best for our children! But that's exactly what's
happening in this tug-of-war over Elian Gonzalez.
- As a father of four, including three sons, I know how
important daddies are to 6-year-old boys. The question
then becomes: is it better for Elian to live in our great
country without his father or to live with his father in
- No contest: I say reunite Elian with his
- Elian's father and five other Cubans now have their
visas for travel to the United States. "I'm willing to
leave tomorrow," his father said in a prepared statement.
"I do not want to talk to any kidnapper, nor accept any
condition, or take part in any show or publicity over the
handover of Elian."
- So what are we waiting for?