The Guardian February 9, 2000


Bursting the cloud over Miami

by Terrie Albano

Elian Gonzalez's grandmothers were afraid to go to Miami, but they went 
anyway. That is a Solomon-like testament of their grandmotherly love and 
courageous devotion to their six-year-old grandson.

The grandmothers' unquestionable commitment to Elian overcame a fear that 
grasps countless people living in Miami. This fear is based in real-life 
experiences.

From bombings to death threats to "dirty tricks", the anti-Castro, anti-
communist organisations in the Cuban exile community have resorted to 
intimidation and terrorism toward anyone who dares put forward another 
point of view on Cuba.

Government officials in South Florida and beyond either support these 
forces or kowtow to them. Hence, the genuflecting to anti-communism by all 
presidential candidates vying for Florida voters' support.

What the candidates don't realise or don't care is that US public opinion 
has shifted dramatically, including in the Cuban American communities. 
Public opinion goes more in the direction of normalised relations with Cuba 
and ending the US embargo.

Hollywood stars and regular folks are going to Cuba. The popularity of 
Cuban music and US-Cuban baseball games have become popular cultural signs 
that people want normal neighbourly relations.

The fact is that now more than 80 per cent of the US people are not falling 
for the anti-communist illogic that says it is better to keep a boy away 
from his dad.

Even famed Cuban-American singer, Gloria Estefan, well-known for her anti-
Castro stance, hemmed a bit when asked at the American Music Awards whether 
Elian should return to Cuba. She said whatever is in his best interests 
should be done.

In a letter to Janet Reno, Elian's grandmothers, Mariela Quintana Garrido 
and Raquel Rodriguez Rodriguez, wrote: "The retention of Elian in the 
United States adds to the tragedy of the family over the loss of Elizabeth.

"For us, the significance of returning Elian to his family will honour his 
mother's memory, return the family to normality and, more importantly, 
return Elian to the normality of life with his father, brother, family, 
friends at school, his toys, dog and parrot.

"We are grateful to you for affirming Juan Miguel's paternity rights, but 
we have felt frustrated over delays in complying with this right. We ask 
that you return Elian to his immediate family and not to his distant family 
where there has not been a previous relationship.

"This is the reason for being here, and we thank you for this interview. We 
only have Sunday to see Elian and we not only want to see him, but we also 
want to return with him to Cuba."

The grandmothers' concern for Elian contrasts dramatically with statements 
made by supporters of Elian's great-uncle's appeal for custody. One 
supporter standing outside the Gonzalez home in Miami said, "[The 
grandmothers] are speaking Castro's words.

"Castro wants to win. But we won't let him."

What about Elian? Will he "win"?

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People's Weekly World, paper of Communist Party, USA

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