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Elian Wants To Return To America
It’s been just over 15 years since federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez at the home of his Miami relatives. The story of the six-year-old boy’s escape from Cuba and the resulting high stakes custody battle dominated headlines in the first half of 2000. In the wake of Bush v Gore later that year, many pundits speculated that the Clinton Administration’s insistence on repatriating Elian may have swung Florida, albeit narrowly, over to George W Bush.
The story was largely forgotten after 9/11. In the years since, occasional interviews with Juan Miguel, Elian’s father, and carefully staged photo-ops between Elian and senior officials in the Cuban regime, acted as reminders of the Gonzalez tragedy. Typical accounts of the saga recall the story as “polarizing” and note that a majority of the American people wanted Elian returned to his father. Much of the Cuban-American community, which opposed the repatriation, was widely vilified by the mainstream press for putting ideology ahead of family.
An ABC interview aired last night is the first the now-adult Elian Gonzalez has given:
Today, Gonzalez says he’d like to come back to the United States, but only as a tourist, telling ABC News he’d like to see a baseball game, visit Washington museums and talk to Americans.
“For my family it has always been, we always have the desire to say to the American people, to say to each household our gratitude, appreciation and love that we have,” he said. “Perhaps one day we could pay a visit to the United States. I could personally thank those people who helped us, who were there by our side. Because we’re so grateful for what they did.”
At the time of his return, many of us feared that Elian would become a prop of Cuba’s communist government, being trotted out at official occasions, a smiling cover for the realities of an authoritarian state. Sadly, this fear has come only too true. Now he is being trotted out again, conveniently in the wake of the Obama Administration’s attempts to re-normalize US-Cuban relations.
It’s very likely that Elian Gonzalez will come to America in the near future, not simply as a tourist but as a propaganda symbol for a regime that rigorously controls the thoughts and movements of 11 million people. Knowing the biases of the Obama Administration, the media, and our cultural elite, he will almost certainly be feted by the great and good: a symbol of a new era when the Castro brothers and the state they rule over are no longer pariahs in the halls of Washington.
Those who have never lived under a dictatorship, have never been deprived of the freedom and opportunity that Americans take for granted, can view the drama that unfolded nearly a generation ago as nothing more than a family quarrel. Two Cuban families fighting an old battle with a little boy caught in the middle. For those who know better, for those who know why thousands of Cubans have risked their lives to reach the coastline of southern Florida, this is a tragedy plain and simple.
When Elian does return to America, surrounded by cameras and the false grins of the political leadership, please give some thought to the mother who died trying to make him an American.
Image Credit: “Inselian” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.Published in Foreign Policy
Elian has also lost his life (will, anyway) to the god of propaganda. There is not a happy ending to be found anywhere in this story.
As someone who lived in Miami during the Elian Gonzalez saga, I can tell you that it cost Al Gore a significant amount of Cuban-American votes and given the slim margin in Florida voting (remember the dangling chads?) it may be said that Elian cost Gore the Presidency.
I sincerely hope that the Democrats do trot him out during this election cycle and remind many of the Cuban-Americans who voted for Obama what it felt like to see that kid taken at gun-point and sent back to the garbage dump his mother died trying to escape from.
Or he gets here, takes a look around, and defects.
Whereupon Obama dawdles on granting political refugee status, Marco Rubio demands it, and HRC remains characteristically silent.
And Elian Gonzalez helps elect another Republican President.
I remember debating with friends who were astounded that I would be in favor of him remaining in Florida. It was like all they cared about was restoring him to the closest relative available, with no other considerations to be taken into account. This is the way most Americans felt. Janet Reno had the discretion to go either way, and she chose the popular way. I guess most Americans would feel the same way if it was a North Korean kid who somehow got into the hands of a South Korean relative. I don’t know what this says about America, but as mentioned above, the silver lining is that it cost Gore the presidency.
The risks for his remaining family and friends in Cuba are too high, Jim. Commies know how to do this — make hostages of members of the family. Elian won’t defect for this reason and because he will have minders.
I hadn’t heard that. Is it true that the majority of Americans wanted him sent back to Cuba? I don’t think that was true but if there’s polling data I can be convinced.
That was what I remembered about the polls at the time. Maybe I was wrong? It didn’t seem like it, since almost everyone I talked to wanted him back with his dad.
It’s amazing to think, if that kid hadn’t washed up in Florida, Saddam would still be in Iraq. The Taliban may even have remained in charge of Afghanistan. (Gore may actually have invaded there, but only if environmental impact study gave it a green light first).
It is good to have a GOP Congress if for no other reason that to insure Obama does not try to pay reparations to Cuba and Venezuela for American opposition to the socialist miracle and to prop up their evil regimes. Watching Fidel’s putrid kid brother popping off and making demands is sickening. The Castros should die at the end of a rope or from a bullet to the head. That a US President would provide a soft landing and vindication for them is vile.
I was born in Miami. When the Bay of Pigs invasion collapsed, a 6-year Cuban boy on the same bus to our parochial school called Americans cowards for not providing the needed support the landing force (his father was in the second wave that was withheld but he did not know that at the time). I thought he was right at the time. It stung.
It was not fashionable to hate Castro by the time Elian’s custody battle was waged. The dominant culture largely embraces the leftist narcissistic absurdity that support for Fidel, Che, Danny Ortega (or even Stalin back in the day) demonstrates one’s love of “the people” in contrast to heartless oligarchs like Reagan. Like the welfare of the child Elian, it’s never about what is actually good for “the people” but how the lefty feels about himself.
I remember differently, that the majority wanted Elian to stay here, especially as his mother died getting him here.
The real kicker, though, was the armed SWAT raid – THAT did in Gore.
Thank Kennedy for totally hosing that operation. Inside accounts were that he personally kept meddling in the planning right up until the start.
This picture was deliberately released to show us citizens “We (the Clintons, but also liberals who love big government in general) will do whatever we want to do to you, when we want, and how we want.”
Chilling . . .
I remember the fury over sending Elian back quite well. I was a huge supporter of keeping him here, and I think it was John McCain’s best moments in his career in voicing the argument for keeping him in the US. In chess you can’t stop the other person from making a move. If this is what Cuba does, then we need to check it with the correct information. We need to show what his life would have been like had he stayed in the US.
I thought separating a boy from his father because we don’t approve of the father’s politics was a bad thing.
Was it his father’s politics that we have been talking about on this thread?
I was of two minds of this during the crisis. I would have killed to save my two. I was speaking with my brother and asked what he thought because he was a great stepdad but had limits imposed because of the battling parents. AUBrother said, “I know it’s hard to know since we don’t know the folks involved but the truth is I am a better parent than either of his biological ones.” He is too.