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Elian Gonzalez Essay Research Paper It began

Elian Gonzalez Essay, Research Paper It began on Thanksgiving day, in November, 1999, when two fisherman pulled the body of a five year old cuban boy out of the waters off the coast of Florida. The boy was Elian Gonzalez. He was one of three survivors of a group of Cuban refugees seeking political asylum and freedom from communist Cuba under Fidel Castro’s rule.

Elian Gonzalez Essay, Research Paper

It began on Thanksgiving day, in November, 1999, when two fisherman pulled the body of a five year old cuban boy out of the waters off the coast of Florida. The boy was Elian Gonzalez. He was one of three survivors of a group of Cuban refugees seeking political asylum and freedom from communist Cuba under Fidel Castro’s rule. Elian’s mother, Elisabeth Brotons, along with her common-law husband and nine others, drowned when the boat carrying them to the United States capsized and sank. Elisabeth Broton’s husband, Lazaro Munero, was apparently trying to smuggle his family and the others into the United States, charging the others one-thousand dollars for the trip. When the boat took on water, two large truck innertubes were used as flotation devices in an attempt to remain alive. After more than a day adrift at sea, Elian was found alone clinging to one of the innertubes off shore near Fort Lauderdale. He was dehydrated, sun-stricken, and emotionally scarred from watching those around him perish in the vast ocean; but he was alive.

Elian was released into the temporary custody of his great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, after being released from Joe Dimmaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Lazaro Gonzalez, along with his daughter, Marisleysis Gonzalez, brought Elian to their South Florida home in Miami’s Little Havana section to shelter him from media attention until future arrangements involving his father could be made.

“God wanted him here for freedom,” said Elian’s second-cousin Marisleysis, “And he’s here and he will get it.”

Meanwhile back in Cuba, Elian’s natural father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, began requesting the return of his son. He strongly disapproved asylum for his son and stated that his wishes should be respected over that of the Miami relative’s. Thus begins the bi-cultural, political tug-of-war between a family that is dividing a country and determining the future of a young boy.

Back on December 10, 1999, in Dallas, Texas, a request for political asylum was made by the attorneys of Elian Gonzalez. In it, they stated that Elian has a “well founded fear of persecution” if returned to communist Cuba. The asylum request would hopefully guarantee the stay of Elian in the United States for a few months until his hearing is complete.

“Our understanding of the law is, he should not be removed from this country until he has had a full and fair asylum hearing,” Elian attorney Roger Bernstien said. But Elian’s application for political asylum could not be heard until his admissions application became resolved, which was supposed to be completed on December 23.

In Cuba, mass demonstrations took place in Havana as well as fourteen other cities demanding the return of Elian to his homeland and his father. Meanwhile, the United States continued to inform Juan Miguel Gonzalez of U.S. immigration laws so that he could try to reclaim his son. Both federal and international law favor the rights of the surviving parent over that of the intentions of the deceased parent or the rights of any other relative.

After weeks of uncertainty about the fate of Elian, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, along with Attorney General Janet Reno, ruled that the boy’s father be granted custody and that he be returned to Cuba on Friday, January 14. The INS originally granted temporary custody of Elian to his great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, in Miami until arrangements with the boy’s natural father, Lazaro Gonzalez’s nephew, could be made. The Miami relatives, however, feel that the child’s best interests can only be met here in the United States and are fighting for custody in order to seek asylum for Elian to remain on U.S. soil. Juan Miguel greatly disapproved of any attempt of his Miami relatives to seek asylum stating that they have no claim to custody and that Elian was being “kidnapped” by them.

On January 11, 2000, the legal issues involving Elian Gonzalez became even more complicated when Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez granted emergency temporary custody to Lazaro Gonzalez enabling him to mail, overnight, a second request for asylum on Elian’s behalf. This ruling came just days before Elian’s scheduled return to Cuba.

Judge Rodriguez ruled that Elian remain with his Miami relatives until March 6 when the court will hear arguements from Lazaro Gonzalez. Rodriguez felt that Elian would face “imminent and irreparable harm” if returned to Cuba. She also included, a “loss of due process rights and harm to his physical and mental health and emotional well-being.” Judge Rodriguez also ordered Juan Miguel Gonzalez to appear at the March 6 hearing even though he has refused to travel to the United States in the past.

The complicating matter is that Judge Rodriguez may not even have had jurisdiction to rule on the case. According to a 1997 revision of United States immigration law, a state court is required to receive permission of the U.S. attorney general before interveining in cases involving children under INS custody. Since Elian is legally still in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Attorney General Janet Reno may render Rodriguez’s decision null and reject the second request for asylum. If that occurred, then Lazaro Gonzalez would have had no legal standing to act for Elian.

Judge Rosa Rodriguez was also placed under scrutiny after acknowledging that a political consultant for Elian’s cause, Armando Gutierrez, was a paid advisor in her 1998 judicial campaign. Legal experts feel that she should have disclosed that information beforehand. Others feel that Rodriguez should have refused the case entirely. Reguardless, the political firestorm in the courts over where Elian belongs was set in motion.

United States Attorney General Janet Reno responded to the family court judge’s ruling by stating that it “has no force or effect,” and challenged Elian’s attorneys to appeal her ruling to the federal court of appeals. She also lifted the Friday, January 14 deadline to allow time for court proceedings; but did not set a new deadline. Government officials also stressed having no intention of forcibly removing Elian.

In return, the Miami family’s attorney, Spencer Eig, filed a federal lawsuit on January 19 on behalf of Elian. Legal experts said the chances of Elian’s attorneys winning in federal court are slim since matters of immigration enforcement are deferred to the attorney general.

Back in the Little Havana section of Miami, where the family of Lazaro Gonzalez lives, public support for Elian to stay grew. The supporters felt that all they needed was some time until Congress reconvened on January 24 and considered a special bill granting Elian legal status in the United States. The bill would ultimately remove any INS jurisdiction, allowing Lazaro Gonzalez to seek custody at the state level. Both of Florida’s senators, Republican Connie Mack, a supporter of Elian’s cause, and Democrat Bob Graham, have urged the INS not to act until Congress can take the issue up. Yet special immigration bills have only had a one percent success rate in the past. And even if such a bill is passed, it has to be ratified by President Clinton who favors the INS’s decision of returning Elian.

Castro’s government condemned the ruling while the people of Cuba once again protested, refering to Cuban refugees in America as beasts.

A planned trip to the United States from Cuba by Elian’s grandmothers took place on January 28 when they met with Janet Reno to discuss a visit with Elian. The meeting finally took place at the home of Barry University President Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin of Miami. Both sides of the family wanted a neutral location away from media attention. Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, who remained a neutral party on the Elian dispute, changed her mind in favor of Elian staying in the U.S. after hosting the meeting with the grandmothers. She noted sensing fear in the two, while the grandmothers stated having no privacy with the boy and too many interuptions. The grandmother’s cell phones were even confiscated as a condition of the meeting.

Because of growing legal concerns, the Miami relatives cancelled a meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno on February 9. Instead, Marisleysis Gonzalez and Georgina Cid, both second-cousins to Elian, lobbied on Capital Hill for support of the Elian bill to grant citizenship or permanent residency.

March 9, 2000 was the much anticipated date that would determine the fate of Elian Gonzalez. Lazaro Gonzalez and his daughter Marisleysis, along with other Miami relatives, were finally back in court to force the INS to give Elian a political asylum hearing previously denied. This time the family’s arguments were heard at the federal level and U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore presided. On this date, no ruling was made and the judge recessed the court without a decision until Tuesday, March 21. In his ruling, Judge Moore firmly upheld United States Attorney General Janet Reno’s decision to return Elian to his father in Cuba. He dismissed the case and stated, “Each passing day is another day lost between Juan Miguel and his son.”

The Federal Court’s ruling sparked a media frenzy covering every minute aspect of Elian and his Miami relatives. By this time, the news media had been camping out in masses outside the Little Havana home of Elian’s relatives interviewing everyone from legal experts to child phychiatrists. Marisleysis Gonzalez shocked viewers of CNN’s Talkback Live when she walked across the street of her Miami home to a live broadcast to respond to comments made by New York psychiatrist Dr. Preston Wiles. Dr. Wiles was one of many psychiatrists speculating on the best interests of Elian and infuriating the family.

“It’s very easy to be outside of a situation and talk not knowing what this little boy went through,” exasperated Marisleysis. In the days to follow, Marisleysis Gonzalez would be admitted to the hospital for a second time due to stress related illnesses.

Public support in the Little Havana community grew as demonstrators from the anti-Castro group, the Democracy Movement, linked arms and practiced non-violent resistance techniques. Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the Democracy Movement, said, “We will not let Elian’s civil rights be violated… We are not willing to harm anyone, but we are willing to die to defend the constitutional rights of Elian Gonzalez.”

After months of refusing to come to the United States to resolve issues with his son, Juan Miguel Gonzalez applied for a visa to come and retrieve Elian. Through his attorney, Gregory Craig, Juan Miguel arranged to stay in the country until the appeals process is complete. The 11th U.S. Curcuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has scheduled the case for May 11.

Talks between the Miami family and the INS ended with no agreement. INS officials wanted a signed statement from Lazaro Gonzalez promising to hand Elian over if he lost his case in the appeals court. Lazaro Gonzalez refused. Instead, he pleaded with Juan Miguel to come to Miami to meet with Elian in a family environment. In a statement released, he said, “We appeal to Juan Miguel to come to our home with his wife and son and sit with us around the family table. We want no government officials, no lawyers, and no press, only family.” The relatives also said that they were no longer willing to hand over Elian to his father but would not resist if the government tried to take him from their home.

Meanwhile, on Friday, March 31, the Florida House of Representatives passed a resolution that urged the Justice Department to keep Elian in U.S. custody until he can petition for political asylum, giving the family of Lazaro Gonzalez new hope of gaining custody of Elian and keeping him here in the United States.

One week later, Juan Miguel Gonzalez arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport with his wife, Nercy Carmenate Castillo, and son Hianny. He immediatly met with Attorney General Janet Reno, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner and other officials at the Justice Department. During the April 6 meeting, which lasted an hour, Reno was moved by Juan Miguel’s plea for the return of his son. This prompted the immediate devising of a plan to forcibly take custody of Elian. Later, Reno also repeated an offer made to the family a week earlier. The offer gave the Miami family two options; immediately turn Elian over to his father and she will try to have them remain in the U.S. while the appeals process over immigration status and custody continue; or keep the boy until federal marshals seize him, but there will be no government effort to prevent Juan Miguel and Elian from returning to Cuba before the appeals process is over.

Cuban-Americans, whose numbers reached the hundreds outside the Miami home, view the recent decision as an act of betrayal by the federal government. Many exiles feel that the winner here is not the American government or Elian, but Fidel Castro and his communist regime. Cuban-American Ledia Chavez who supported Lazaro disgustedly stated, “We knew Castro had the power in Cuba, but we didn’t know he had it here, too.” Janet Reno sympathized with the community’s feelings in a statement by calling Castro “a dictator from whom thousands have fled.” Governor Jeb Bush showed his recognition of the emotion by commenting, “I think a lot of people are passionate about this because they have suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro.” These passions, however, may be the cause of some political unrest between the Miami-Washington alliance. Experts say that Cuban-Americans in Miami stand to lose some of their lobbying power after having notable influence over U.S. policy on Cuba. In the past, Congress tended to look to Cuban-Americans for guidance and leadership.

As for the governmental aspect, Attorney General Janet Reno and Vice President Al Gore are at risk of losing favor in the eyes of the Miamians.

“The political price for Democrats could be a Florida Senate seat and Florida’s 25 electoral votes,” explains associate professor Dario Moreno at Florida International University. Cuban-Americans represent a small portion of the electorate, but they vote in large numbers in states that make a difference in close elections. Political experts also credit Cuban-Americans with having constant and intense lobbying efforts.

Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, who tends to lose the most from the unrest in Miami, is at risk of losing much needed support. His views have seemed contradictory as the Elian saga evolved. First, Gore agreed with the INS decision stating that the conflict should be handled by federal officials. Then, fearing declining support from the Cuban-American community, Al Gore reasserted his disassociation with the Clinton administration and Attorney General Janet Reno and the INS. Gore now supported Congress to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Graham, Democrat-Florida, that would grant permanent residency status in the United States to Elian, his father, step-mother, brother, grandmothers, and grandfather. However, on April 7 when Gore campaigned in Fort Lauderdale, he remained silent on the Elian dispute and made no references at all as to his position on the matter. Instead, Gore talked about insurance coverage for contraceptives and other health care issues with the invitation only gathering. He also avoided discussing the case by canceling a fund-raiser in Miami.

With so many factors involved in the Elian Gonzalez custody dispute, it’s hard not to have an opinion. Every side has their own view of what’s right and can back up their claims with legitamate and truthful reasons. Each has supporters that feel the emotions of the families just as much as the families themselves. But with all the attention over the United States courts, government officials, and Fidel Castro as to who’s doing what, when and why, are we losing sight over who is really important and what is truly at stake? Elian’s life was greatly impacted by the Miami relatives after tragically losing his mother. Now he is at risk of losing the only stability he has known for the past five months, but is that enough to keep a boy from his father? Either way, Elian will lose since the chances of both sides of the family ever coming together agian to make some kind agreement are practically zero. Maybe Elian would have a better life and more opportunities in the United States, but he would not have a better life being separated from his father. Whatever the outcome, the peoples of both the United States of America and Cuba will be greatly impacted for years to come because of a boy named Elian.It began on Thanksgiving day, in November, 1999, when two fisherman pulled the body of a five year old cuban boy out of the waters off the coast of Florida. The boy was Elian Gonzalez. He was one of three survivors of a group of Cuban refugees seeking political asylum and freedom from communist Cuba under Fidel Castro’s rule. Elian’s mother, Elisabeth Brotons, along with her common-law husband and nine others, drowned when the boat carrying them to the United States capsized and sank. Elisabeth Broton’s husband, Lazaro Munero, was apparently trying to smuggle his family and the others into the United States, charging the others one-thousand dollars for the trip. When the boat took on water, two large truck innertubes were used as flotation devices in an attempt to remain alive. After more than a day adrift at sea, Elian was found alone clinging to one of the innertubes off shore near Fort Lauderdale. He was dehydrated, sun-stricken, and emotionally scarred from watching those around him perish in the vast ocean; but he was alive.

Elian was released into the temporary custody of his great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, after being released from Joe Dimmaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Lazaro Gonzalez, along with his daughter, Marisleysis Gonzalez, brought Elian to their South Florida home in Miami’s Little Havana section to shelter him from media attention until future arrangements involving his father could be made.

“God wanted him here for freedom,” said Elian’s second-cousin Marisleysis, “And he’s here and he will get it.”

Meanwhile back in Cuba, Elian’s natural father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, began requesting the return of his son. He strongly disapproved asylum for his son and stated that his wishes should be respected over that of the Miami relative’s. Thus begins the bi-cultural, political tug-of-war between a family that is dividing a country and determining the future of a young boy.

Back on December 10, 1999, in Dallas, Texas, a request for political asylum was made by the attorneys of Elian Gonzalez. In it, they stated that Elian has a “well founded fear of persecution” if returned to communist Cuba. The asylum request would hopefully guarantee the stay of Elian in the United States for a few months until his hearing is complete.

“Our understanding of the law is, he should not be removed from this country until he has had a full and fair asylum hearing,” Elian attorney Roger Bernstien said. But Elian’s application for political asylum could not be heard until his admissions application became resolved, which was supposed to be completed on December 23.

In Cuba, mass demonstrations took place in Havana as well as fourteen other cities demanding the return of Elian to his homeland and his father. Meanwhile, the United States continued to inform Juan Miguel Gonzalez of U.S. immigration laws so that he could try to reclaim his son. Both federal and international law favor the rights of the surviving parent over that of the intentions of the deceased parent or the rights of any other relative.

After weeks of uncertainty about the fate of Elian, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, along with Attorney General Janet Reno, ruled that the boy’s father be granted custody and that he be returned to Cuba on Friday, January 14. The INS originally granted temporary custody of Elian to his great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, in Miami until arrangements with the boy’s natural father, Lazaro Gonzalez’s nephew, could be made. The Miami relatives, however, feel that the child’s best interests can only be met here in the United States and are fighting for custody in order to seek asylum for Elian to remain on U.S. soil. Juan Miguel greatly disapproved of any attempt of his Miami relatives to seek asylum stating that they have no claim to custody and that Elian was being “kidnapped” by them.

On January 11, 2000, the legal issues involving Elian Gonzalez became even more complicated when Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez granted emergency temporary custody to Lazaro Gonzalez enabling him to mail, overnight, a second request for asylum on Elian’s behalf. This ruling came just days before Elian’s scheduled return to Cuba.

Judge Rodriguez ruled that Elian remain with his Miami relatives until March 6 when the court will hear arguements from Lazaro Gonzalez. Rodriguez felt that Elian would face “imminent and irreparable harm” if returned to Cuba. She also included, a “loss of due process rights and harm to his physical and mental health and emotional well-being.” Judge Rodriguez also ordered Juan Miguel Gonzalez to appear at the March 6 hearing even though he has refused to travel to the United States in the past.

The complicating matter is that Judge Rodriguez may not even have had jurisdiction to rule on the case. According to a 1997 revision of United States immigration law, a state court is required to receive permission of the U.S. attorney general before interveining in cases involving children under INS custody. Since Elian is legally still in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Attorney General Janet Reno may render Rodriguez’s decision null and reject the second request for asylum. If that occurred, then Lazaro Gonzalez would have had no legal standing to act for Elian.

Judge Rosa Rodriguez was also placed under scrutiny after acknowledging that a political consultant for Elian’s cause, Armando Gutierrez, was a paid advisor in her 1998 judicial campaign. Legal experts feel that she should have disclosed that information beforehand. Others feel that Rodriguez should have refused the case entirely. Reguardless, the political firestorm in the courts over where Elian belongs was set in motion.

United States Attorney General Janet Reno responded to the family court judge’s ruling by stating that it “has no force or effect,” and challenged Elian’s attorneys to appeal her ruling to the federal court of appeals. She also lifted the Friday, January 14 deadline to allow time for court proceedings; but did not set a new deadline. Government officials also stressed having no intention of forcibly removing Elian.

In return, the Miami family’s attorney, Spencer Eig, filed a federal lawsuit on January 19 on behalf of Elian. Legal experts said the chances of Elian’s attorneys winning in federal court are slim since matters of immigration enforcement are deferred to the attorney general.

Back in the Little Havana section of Miami, where the family of Lazaro Gonzalez lives, public support for Elian to stay grew. The supporters felt that all they needed was some time until Congress reconvened on January 24 and considered a special bill granting Elian legal status in the United States. The bill would ultimately remove any INS jurisdiction, allowing Lazaro Gonzalez to seek custody at the state level. Both of Florida’s senators, Republican Connie Mack, a supporter of Elian’s cause, and Democrat Bob Graham, have urged the INS not to act until Congress can take the issue up. Yet special immigration bills have only had a one percent success rate in the past. And even if such a bill is passed, it has to be ratified by President Clinton who favors the INS’s decision of returning Elian.

Castro’s government condemned the ruling while the people of Cuba once again protested, refering to Cuban refugees in America as beasts.

A planned trip to the United States from Cuba by Elian’s grandmothers took place on January 28 when they met with Janet Reno to discuss a visit with Elian. The meeting finally took place at the home of Barry University President Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin of Miami. Both sides of the family wanted a neutral location away from media attention. Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, who remained a neutral party on the Elian dispute, changed her mind in favor of Elian staying in the U.S. after hosting the meeting with the grandmothers. She noted sensing fear in the two, while the grandmothers stated having no privacy with the boy and too many interuptions. The grandmother’s cell phones were even confiscated as a condition of the meeting.

Because of growing legal concerns, the Miami relatives cancelled a meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno on February 9. Instead, Marisleysis Gonzalez and Georgina Cid, both second-cousins to Elian, lobbied on Capital Hill for support of the Elian bill to grant citizenship or permanent residency.

March 9, 2000 was the much anticipated date that would determine the fate of Elian Gonzalez. Lazaro Gonzalez and his daughter Marisleysis, along with other Miami relatives, were finally back in court to force the INS to give Elian a political asylum hearing previously denied. This time the family’s arguments were heard at the federal level and U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore presided. On this date, no ruling was made and the judge recessed the court without a decision until Tuesday, March 21. In his ruling, Judge Moore firmly upheld United States Attorney General Janet Reno’s decision to return Elian to his father in Cuba. He dismissed the case and stated, “Each passing day is another day lost between Juan Miguel and his son.”

The Federal Court’s ruling sparked a media frenzy covering every minute aspect of Elian and his Miami relatives. By this time, the news media had been camping out in masses outside the Little Havana home of Elian’s relatives interviewing everyone from legal experts to child phychiatrists. Marisleysis Gonzalez shocked viewers of CNN’s Talkback Live when she walked across the street of her Miami home to a live broadcast to respond to comments made by New York psychiatrist Dr. Preston Wiles. Dr. Wiles was one of many psychiatrists speculating on the best interests of Elian and infuriating the family.

“It’s very easy to be outside of a situation and talk not knowing what this little boy went through,” exasperated Marisleysis. In the days to follow, Marisleysis Gonzalez would be admitted to the hospital for a second time due to stress related illnesses.

Public support in the Little Havana community grew as demonstrators from the anti-Castro group, the Democracy Movement, linked arms and practiced non-violent resistance techniques. Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the Democracy Movement, said, “We will not let Elian’s civil rights be violated… We are not willing to harm anyone, but we are willing to die to defend the constitutional rights of Elian Gonzalez.”

After months of refusing to come to the United States to resolve issues with his son, Juan Miguel Gonzalez applied for a visa to come and retrieve Elian. Through his attorney, Gregory Craig, Juan Miguel arranged to stay in the country until the appeals process is complete. The 11th U.S. Curcuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has scheduled the case for May 11.

Talks between the Miami family and the INS ended with no agreement. INS officials wanted a signed statement from Lazaro Gonzalez promising to hand Elian over if he lost his case in the appeals court. Lazaro Gonzalez refused. Instead, he pleaded with Juan Miguel to come to Miami to meet with Elian in a family environment. In a statement released, he said, “We appeal to Juan Miguel to come to our home with his wife and son and sit with us around the family table. We want no government officials, no lawyers, and no press, only family.” The relatives also said that they were no longer willing to hand over Elian to his father but would not resist if the government tried to take him from their home.

Meanwhile, on Friday, March 31, the Florida House of Representatives passed a resolution that urged the Justice Department to keep Elian in U.S. custody until he can petition for political asylum, giving the family of Lazaro Gonzalez new hope of gaining custody of Elian and keeping him here in the United States.

One week later, Juan Miguel Gonzalez arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport with his wife, Nercy Carmenate Castillo, and son Hianny. He immediatly met with Attorney General Janet Reno, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner and other officials at the Justice Department. During the April 6 meeting, which lasted an hour, Reno was moved by Juan Miguel’s plea for the return of his son. This prompted the immediate devising of a plan to forcibly take custody of Elian. Later, Reno also repeated an offer made to the family a week earlier. The offer gave the Miami family two options; immediately turn Elian over to his father and she will try to have them remain in the U.S. while the appeals process over immigration status and custody continue; or keep the boy until federal marshals seize him, but there will be no government effort to prevent Juan Miguel and Elian from returning to Cuba before the appeals process is over.

Cuban-Americans, whose numbers reached the hundreds outside the Miami home, view the recent decision as an act of betrayal by the federal government. Many exiles feel that the winner here is not the American government or Elian, but Fidel Castro and his communist regime. Cuban-American Ledia Chavez who supported Lazaro disgustedly stated, “We knew Castro had the power in Cuba, but we didn’t know he had it here, too.” Janet Reno sympathized with the community’s feelings in a statement by calling Castro “a dictator from whom thousands have fled.” Governor Jeb Bush showed his recognition of the emotion by commenting, “I think a lot of people are passionate about this because they have suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro.” These passions, however, may be the cause of some political unrest between the Miami-Washington alliance. Experts say that Cuban-Americans in Miami stand to lose some of their lobbying power after having notable influence over U.S. policy on Cuba. In the past, Congress tended to look to Cuban-Americans for guidance and leadership.

As for the governmental aspect, Attorney General Janet Reno and Vice President Al Gore are at risk of losing favor in the eyes of the Miamians.

“The political price for Democrats could be a Florida Senate seat and Florida’s 25 electoral votes,” explains associate professor Dario Moreno at Florida International University. Cuban-Americans represent a small portion of the electorate, but they vote in large numbers in states that make a difference in close elections. Political experts also credit Cuban-Americans with having constant and intense lobbying efforts.

Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, who tends to lose the most from the unrest in Miami, is at risk of losing much needed support. His views have seemed contradictory as the Elian saga evolved. First, Gore agreed with the INS decision stating that the conflict should be handled by federal officials. Then, fearing declining support from the Cuban-American community, Al Gore reasserted his disassociation with the Clinton administration and Attorney General Janet Reno and the INS. Gore now supported Congress to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Graham, Democrat-Florida, that would grant permanent residency status in the United States to Elian, his father, step-mother, brother, grandmothers, and grandfather. However, on April 7 when Gore campaigned in Fort Lauderdale, he remained silent on the Elian dispute and made no references at all as to his position on the matter. Instead, Gore talked about insurance coverage for contraceptives and other health care issues with the invitation only gathering. He also avoided discussing the case by canceling a fund-raiser in Miami.

With so many factors involved in the Elian Gonzalez custody dispute, it’s hard not to have an opinion. Every side has their own view of what’s right and can back up their claims with legitamate and truthful reasons. Each has supporters that feel the emotions of the families just as much as the families themselves. But with all the attention over the United States courts, government officials, and Fidel Castro as to who’s doing what, when and why, are we losing sight over who is really important and what is truly at stake? Elian’s life was greatly impacted by the Miami relatives after tragically losing his mother. Now he is at risk of losing the only stability he has known for the past five months, but is that enough to keep a boy from his father? Either way, Elian will lose since the chances of both sides of the family ever coming together agian to make some kind agreement are practically zero. Maybe Elian would have a better life and more opportunities in the United States, but he would not have a better life being separated from his father. Whatever the outcome, the peoples of both the United States of America and Cuba will be greatly impacted for years to come because of a boy named Elian.

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