When Janet Reno and President Bill Clinton decided fourteen years ago to ignore U.S. law and our constitution in order to send Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba, not only did they sentence a young child to a life of repression and slavery, they also turned him into a Castro propaganda tool. The very same faulty reasoning they used to justify the kidnapping of Elian at gunpoint from the home of his family in Miami is exactly what the young man has now become: A political football for the Castro dictatorship to punt and kick at their pleasure.
Elián González: My time in the U.S. ‘changed me for life’
On the 14th anniversary of his rescue from a raft in waters off Fort Lauderdale, Elián González said he blames the Cuban Adjustment Act for his mother’s death and the international custody battle it sparked on his behalf.
In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu website, Elian, now 19, said his experience in Miami when he was 6 “marked me for life.”
Clearly echoing the wishes of the Cuban government, González used his interview to ask President Barack Obama to free the five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in Miami, denounced historic Cuban exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation and Alpha 66 and called Operation Pedro Pan, which allowed thousands of Cuban children to escape indoctrination by Fidel Castro’s regime, “an imperialist hoax based on deceptions and used to cause pain.”
In the interview in Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child — “the right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain in my cultural context” — were violated in the United States.
On Thanksgiving weekend 1999, the little boy was rescued by two Broward County fisherman. He was the youngest survivor after an overcrowded boat capsized en route from Cuba to Miami. His mother and 10 others seeking to enter the U. S. drowned at sea.
His Miami relatives fought to keep him in the U.S., saying that had been his mother’s wish. But his father in Cuba — and Fidel Castro — demanded he be returned. The Elián González saga culminated in a pre-dawn raid on April 22, 2000, when heavily-armed U.S. agents broke into the Miami home of González’s uncle on orders of then-Attorney-General Janet Reno with the ultimate goal of returning the boy to Cuba.
“Those days were very sad for me, which marked me for life,” González said Monday. “It never gave me the chance to think of my mother, who died at sea as a result of the Cuban Adjustment Act,” he said, referring to the 1966 U.S. law that allows any Cuban who reaches the U. S. by any means to be paroled and given residency.
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