Elian Gonzalez Essay, Research Paper
On November 25th, 1999, Elian Gonzalez was found clinging to an inner tube three miles off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale after a boat carrying his mother, stepfather and eleven others apparently sank on its way to the United States. He had been floating in the inner tube for two days and nights, and after being admitted to a hospital he had been found to be in remarkably good shape considering he was without food and water. But the worst was yet to come for Elian Gonzalez. Almost immediately after his release from the hospital, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the boy?s father, claims that Elian?s mother kidnapped the boy, and he wants Elian returned to Cuba. The Cuban government chose to back up Elian?s father in the demand, and that is when the question arose. What would the future hold in store for Elian Gonzalez? Would he be returned to a life with his father in Cuba or would he be kept under better living conditions in the United States of America? Before you go and make up your mind on this issue, I?d like you to consider a few things.
The INS ruled that in the name of “family reunification” Elian must return to Cuba, and many people agreed with the idea. But would such a decision be tolerated if it involved, say, a Jewish boy who had come to the United States from Nazi Germany during the 1930s? Would he have been sent back if the father – with a gun to his back – declared his desire to have his child returned to slavery or to a concentration camp? Would everyone argue that the child’s best interests are served by “family reunification”? Certainly not. Why, then, is Elian’s situation any different? Life in totalitarian Cuba, after all, is basically life in slavery. I think that it is best put in the words of Mr. Jacoby, columnist of the Boston Globe. ?Send Elian back and he will be allowed to live with his father until he is eleven; thereafter he will be sent to work in a farm-labor camp for 45 to 60 days per year. Send Elian back and he will face compulsory military service until he is 27. Send Elian back and he will be indoctrinated in the glories of “the revolution” and taught to regard any Cubans who reject Castroism?including his dead mother?as counterrevolutionaries and traitors. Send Elian back and he will be allowed to attend college only if his “political attitude and social conduct”?to quote the relevant Cuban law?satisfy the regime in Havana.?
Elian was brought to America by his mother and stepfather, both of whom died during the dangerous crossing from Cuba. The very fact that people will risk such a crossing should clearly show the results of Fidel Castro?s communist dictatorship. In a dictatorship, the individual is regarded as having no rights; his person and property may be disposed of by the state whenever the state sees it necessary. A person has no right to choose his own career, to run his own business, to think independently, to attempt to change the political regime under which he lives, or even to leave for a different, freer country. What parent would want their child to live in this kind of environment? I think that we all know that if Elian is sent back to Cuba, his father will be the only one to take care of him, and by the sound of it Elian?s father won?t be able to give Elian the kind of life Elian deserves. If Elian is to stay with all his relatives in the United States, his success won?t be guaranteed but he will have a much better chance at it.
Congressional Republicans have agreed to hand over Elian providing his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, agrees to come to the United States to pick him up. It is true that the father?s own wishes cannot be ascertained while he is still in Cuba and thus not free to speak since the fact remains that as long as he is in Cuba, what Castro tells him to say goes. Many think that this would be the best answer. If the father were to come to the United States of America to claim his son, then the most likely outcome would be the father would end up staying along with Elian in the United States.
In the end, I think that the answer to this problem is quite obvious. Look at it this way: the legal standard in these cases is the ?best interests? of the child. We?re left with only one question: would it be in Elian Gonzalez?s best interests to stay in a life of freedom with his relatives or would he be better off in communist Cuba living a life of slavery under the rule of Castro?