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"?
* * *People's Weekly World, paper of Communist Party, USA