another look at our rights

The Elián Gonzalez Case
Searching My Heart for an Answer

Elián Gonzalez
rom the calm waters off the shores of Florida to the severed ties between two nations, a little boy by the name of Elián Gonzalez was plucked from the sea and catapulted into the callousness of national ideologies and into the spotlight of an international custody battle.  Elián is a child of innocence who knows no malice, and for many, he has become an icon for freedom.  But this six year old has lost more than just his mother in a political game of finder's keepers.  He has lost his anonymity and his mother's dream of him living a life free of tyranny, for even if he is permitted to stay in the United States, his actions and his life will always be under the glass of public scrutiny.
     Now for me to try to understand the situation surrounding this little boy, I must first unmask any political pretensions and self-regarding ideologies, and for all fairness, I must take no notice of them; sort of evening the playing field if you will.  To begin, I must first forget the fact that the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act gave Elián Gonzalez permanent residency status the moment he stepped foot on American soil.  After that, I must ignore informed people who say Elián was born two years after his parents were divorced and his mother had sole custody of him, while the father played no role in the raising of Elián.  I must also ignore their claims that the father hasn't see Elián in almost three years.  And I must not believe these people when they say Elián's birth certificate, with Juan Miguel Gonzalez's as the father, was created two days after word had came of the death of Elián's mother.  And I must likewise dismiss claims that Elián was kidnapped by his mother, and the father had abused the mother.  Since there are so many different stories being spread throughout the news media, it's impossible to know which ones to believe.  Next, I must not wonder why our federal government feels it necessary to overstep its authority and infringe on the sovereign rights of the State of Florida to rule on a family matter.  Then I mustn't allow myself to cry for a young mother who sacrificed her life so her child could live in a so-called free nation.  And lastly, I can not let myself feel shame for any American who cares little for freedom and would send Elizabet Broton Rodroguez's son back to Cuba.
     So now with those distracting notions out of the way and with the playing field somewhat level, I can focus on the real issue at hand--Elián and what is best for him.  In a time when I see a little boy who could lead two feuding nations into resolving past differences, I see only self-interests being swapped for the innocence and freedom of a little boy.  I see no partaker in this matter concerned about what's best for Elián, save one.  Marisleysis Gonzalez is the only person who seems to be genuinely concerned for little Elián and his well-being.  The father, the US Justice Department and the dictator of Cuba all vow the return of little Elián to Cuba, while Elián's relatives in Miami all vow to never let him be returned to Cuba.  Someone has to give in, and I'm sure it won't be the powers that be.  Nevertheless, a single question still remains unanswered.  What's best for Elián?

Juan Miguel Gonzalez - A pawn who could end the game with a single move.
Juan Miguel      I've tried to put myself in Juan Miguel's shoes to try to understand why it has taken him nearly five months to come to the United States and claim his son.  Personally, I would've been gone seconds after I learned what happened.  I would've been on the very next plane to Miami, but he didn't and I wonder why.  At first I questioned whether he really wanted little Elián or not, and I even went so far as to doubt his love for his child, but now I think I understand.
     Passports and Visas do take time, maybe a week or two, but not five months.  So I think something else has been running through this man's mind.  Of course, this could only be answered by him, but I believe it's very likely he hoped the United States government would have been true to its word and let his son become a American citizen.  I believe it's every parent's desire for his or her child to live a better life than he or she has, and I believe Juan Miguel delayed long as possible in hopes his son would be granted a better life in the United States.  For this reason, I believe he does indeed love his child, and Juan Miguel does want his son to live a better life than he has, but I also believe he has found himself caught in a political machine that will not set him free.  However, he could bring this whole matter to an abrupt end if he requested asylum for himself and his family.  Although the Cuba government and its people would be outraged and angered by such a decision, I don't believe anyone in truth could protest a father's attempt to better his family's opportunities in life.

The US Justice Department - Poor decisions bring poor results.
Reno and Meissner     Janet Reno and the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, Doris Meissner, among others, want to reunite Elián with his father simply because Juan Miguel is the sole surviving parent.  But I don't believe anyone has rejected the legality or even the inevitability of such a reunion.  What's being rejected is the return of little Elián to an impoverished life in a country where everyday commodities and quality health care, as well as other things most Americans take for granted, are regarded as luxuries and are designated for only the privileged and the elite in this communist lead country.  I suppose compassion is not an attribute to be held by someone in power; it could interfere with their judgment.  But to me, the Justice Department has failed to consider anything rational in this matter, simply because they've ignored the wishes of Elián's mother and what is actually best for Elián.
     As of late, the Justice Department hasn't had a very good track record in resolving high profile cases.  So I see no reason for them to start making the right decision now.  I mean, from their debacles at Ruby Ridge and Waco to their lousy handling of the Olympic Park bombing, and now to their latest delusion of protecting us from a monopolizing Bill Gates, Attorney General Janet Reno hasn't shown prudence or even any wisdom in her decisions.  I truly believe Janet Reno doesn't know what she has done, nor do I believe she knows what she is doing.  She claims she has only followed the letter of the law in Elián's case.  However, some have said this is just not true; there is no law on the books that says she has to send Elián back to Cuba, but rather it has been up to her discretion all along.  But in any case, I fear the worst for Elián's relatives in Miami if they try to test Reno's resolve in this matter, because the prospect of taking Elián by force hasn't been rolled out.  And if the past is any forecast to the future and knowing the FBI has killed innocent people to end a crisis, then the closure of this matter may not be as appealing as the public expects, and I will not be too surprised if this matter ends tragically as well.  I just hope for the sake of all involved, I'm wrong.

Cuba and Fidel Castro - He will do anything to get Elián back. 
Fidel Castro     As for Fidel and his countrymen, I say let Elián stay.  And to the American people I ask, have we forgotten so quickly how much of a tyrant this man is?  Just four years ago, his air force chased and unlawfully shoot down two unarmed civilian aircraft over international waters, which resulted in the deaths of three American citizens.  The Cuban government justified their actions by claiming these planes intruded into their airspace and dropped anti-Castro leaflets on Havana.  However, international law gives no country the right to shoot down a civilian aircraft for any reason.  And we want to cooperate with this man?
     I just wonder if we've become so complacent, so content in our current prosperity that we've failed to remember this dictator's past?  A ruler who forbids religion in his country and continues to incarcerate his own citizens who dare voice their opinions against his communist regime.  And according to Cuban exiles, Juan Miguel Gonzalez could never gain full custody of Elián because the Cuban government controls every aspect of the rearing of their children.  They also claim by the age of eleven, Elián will be sent to a military school for four years and eventually he'll end up in a labor camp, or worse, fighting for Castro somewhere in Latin America.  One Cuban official even said Elián is the property of Cuba.  Plus, I feel if any concessions have been promised by this dictator to the Gonzalez family upon Elián's return, these concessions will be taken away the moment things have cooled down, out of international view.
     But then who am I to judge how Castro runs his country.  If he wants to brainwash his country's children in believing his Marxist ways, so be it.  But what I'm more concerned about is how eager the US government has been in siding with this man.  I suspect the public isn't being told the whole story as usual, and to avoid filling the gaps with speculation, I won't pursue this line of reason any further.  However, I do see the fact that many Cubans risking death to escape Castro's control as a good indication something is wrong with that country and Elián's best interests will not be sought in Cuba.
     Moreover, it leaves me puzzled as to why Juan Miguel hasn't requested asylum for himself and his family.  For me, that would have been the first thing out of my mouth the moment I stepped foot on American soil.  That is, unless Juan Miguel doesn't fear retribution.  I mean, sure he talked alone with Janet Reno, but who was with his second wife and child?  Is that even his real wife and child with him?  And what kinds of promises were made about Juan Miguel's family back home in Cuba before he left for the US?  Maybe I'm stretching it here, but I see it as an insurance policy.  Insurance policies are taken out everyday for one thing or another, so I wouldn't put it past Castro if he indeed had taken out a policy of his own.  Threats of reprisal could be why Juan Miguel hasn't asked for asylum.  In addition, I don't see Castro really caring very much for Elián, other than his return to Cuba.  And I believe Castro would do anything to realize that end.

Miami Relatives - These people only want what's best for Elián.  
Marisleysis Gonzalez     It is obvious to me that Elián's relatives in Miami are genuinely concerned about his well-being and his future.  They know he could live a better life in America than he would in Cuba, no matter what Castro has promised.  And it is obvious to me Elián's relatives are caring, compassionate people who would do him no harm and would make his mother's dream come true.  Elián could only benefit from such an arrangement.
     I also see Elián's second cousin, Marisleysis, as an inspiration and a Godsend.  She has cared for this little boy since his arrival in America, and has become what the news media has called Elián's "surrogate mother."  And it is my opinion that it would be an insult if Juan Miguel does not go to Miami and personally thank these people for caring for his son.
     So now this raises several questions.  Can these strangers in Miami care for Elián as well as his biological father?  Is this what's really best for Elián?  Should he be allowed to remain in the United States?  For me the answers are very easy.  Yes, yes and yes.  I believe I can say this because I too lost my mother when I was very young, but for me the situation was compounded even further when I was abandoned by my father after the death of my mother.  So it is not hard for me to imagine what this child is going through and what types of obstacles he will face living in America without his parents.  As for me, it would've been impossible to survive on my own without the intervention of my relatives.  And though this may not be saying much, I didn't turn out half bad.  

     In conclusion, I see no reason why Elián's relatives in Miami could not do the same for him as what my relatives did for me.  I truly believe every child in this world should be afforded the best opportunities in life, and for Elián that would mean he should be allowed to stay in America--the supposed land of the free, the place where a young mother sought refuge for her only son.

     As I wrote this paper, I found myself divided between two moral dilemmas.  The first of which was in my head: I know it to be morally wrong not to return Elián to his father.  This, I do not refute.  Yet the second moral dilemma lay in my heart: It would also be morally wrong to ignore the dying wishes of Elián's mother.  This, I just could not bring myself to do.  I suppose, for me, having lost my own mother through death and my father through desertion, I've placed a mother's wishes atop a father's.  And while I'm all for reuniting Elián with his father, the wishes of Elián's mother seem to have had more influence on my heart than the father's wishes on my mind.
     I'm certain my position on this matter will be in the minority, but I do not apologize for following my heart and respecting the wishes of a young mother.  And lastly, I included this postscript because I felt it important to make clear why I reached the conclusion that I had.  I'm not trying to justify my conclusion, but rather explain it more clearly.  And I thank you for understanding.

Best wishes to you all,

Final Note:  Obviously, this paper was written before the United States Justice Department and Janet Reno took it upon themselves to assault the laws of our great land, only to make a mockery of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  I am personally sickened by the actions of our so-called leaders of today.