Herald Acknowledges New Case Different From Elian

It took a day, but The Miami Herald admits that the latest U.S./Cuba custody battle involving a 4-year-old girl doesn’t exactly parallel the Elian saga 7 years ago. I guess that’s how you sell papers.

From the story:

• The 4-year-old girl’s case is essentially a custody dispute playing out in a Miami juvenile court, where a state judge will decide whether her father is fit to take custody. Both mother and daughter entered the country legally two years ago.

Elián’s case, a federal court matter, was fundamentally about whether he had the right to apply to the U.S. government for asylum after the five-year-old’s mother died while they crossed the Florida Straits in November 1999.

U.S. immigration authorities temporarily allowed Elián, rescued at sea, into the country for medical treatment.

• The 4-year-old girl’s case landed in court after the state Department of Children & Families found the psychologically troubled mother was unfit because of her abusive behavior toward the daughter. She was placed with a Cuban American family in Coral Gables — a family that state child welfare administrators say is more fit than the girl’s Cuban father to raise her.

Elián ended up in court when his Miami relatives, who represented him, sought an asylum hearing, citing the oppressive government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. That triggered a confrontation with top federal officials, who found Elián did not have the right to seek asylum and that his Cuban father spoke for him. The father wanted his son returned to Cuba.

• The 4-year-old girl was placed with a Cuban American family in Coral Gables — a family state child welfare administrators say is more fit than the girl’s Cuban father to raise her. Three sources with knowledge of the case say state child-welfare workers have asked Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen — who issued a gag order to all the parties — to grant that same family long-term custody of the girl. The girl’s father in Cuba wants custody.

Read the entire article here.

53 thoughts on “Herald Acknowledges New Case Different From Elian”

  1. To be fair, Robert, the original article published by the Herald yesterday also mentioned the differences although, admittedly, not as in depth as they did today.

  2. True, but the intent of the initial story was to hook the reader with the “Elian – Part 2” angle. That’s what struck me.

    Like I said, it’s a good way to attract readers, and I’m sure the Herald’s strategy will succeed to a certain extent.

  3. How ironic that the ambulace-chaser showboat lawyer Ira Kurzban could not be reached for comment. The Herald should ask who is paying his fees, the Cuban father who makes $12 monthly? Or is the Cuban government paying his fees, like they have done for three decades?

  4. Robert:

    The cases are more alike than not. Originally, Elián’s case was remanded to Family Court by INS. When Castro expressed an interest in the case, the government removed the case to federal jurisdiction. When the federal courts refused to allow Elián’s repatriation until a hearing was held on his asylum petition, Elián was kidnapped at gunpoint by Clinton-Reno without a legal court order and in violation of an existing court order. Please read what I had to say about this in the previous thread.

  5. The legal fees to be billed to ADM, they’ll also provide their Hawker jet with cheerleader support by the “Methodical” congregation where the Clintons workship, since they must attend a church they attend one where all is justified if not forgiven. Even with that, and consulting services provided by Janet Reno (this time she may advise to smoke out the Cubans like she did in TX),is still hard to see La China heading the parade down the Malecon by the U.S Section, clad in tennis shoes, accompanied by robe flowing Iranian mullahs (where does he/she gets those cheap ass made-in-China ball caps?). It wont happen but if it does it will be a sight to behold in the utmost ridicule.

  6. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with this case. Although I realize that we are no longer under the iron fist of the Reno (in)justice department, I do not feel completely confident with the current administration’s resolve to stand-up to controversial issues. Their pragmatic, for lack of a better term, approach to many issues (immigration, the war on terror, and the US attorney firings lately, for example)in addition to the obvious anti-Cuban exile leanings of the judge hearing the case (as evidenced by Manuel’s post in the previous thread) give me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Add to this the fact that we all know the Herald will bend over backwards to distort this story and in turn, give the national, as well as the international media, a pro communist Cuban government point-of-view from which to base their reporting from and we just might find ourselves being branded once again as the intransigent Miami mafia trying to trample the rights of yet another poor father and his young child. I wish there were something we could do to ensure this little girl is given the opportunity to stay here instead of being used as a political football the way Elian was. Call me cynical, but I do not trust the Bush administration to go to the mat for this issue; especially if they’re going to get beat-up every night on the nightly news.

    If anyone out there has any suggestions on what can be done by us, I would like to hear it and help organize a defense for this little girl to make sure she does not meet the same fate Elian did. I always felt that one grave mistake made by Elian’s family in Miami was in not hiring a high profile “liberal” attorney, such as a Johnny Cochran or Alan Dershowitz. Although those guys are liberal, they love the cameras, the attention, and the controversy infinitely more than they do their ideology (anyone remember OJ?) and would have probably jumped at the chance to be center stage. Of course, the media would have handled them differently than they did Elian’s attorney who was marginalized as a bit player(does anyone even remember his name?).

    If anyone out there is organizing some type of defense, please let me know so that I may help in any way I can.

  7. PilotAl:

    You are quite right; we can’t trust the Bush administration to do anything for us. Under Bush’s watch, the trade embargo has been effectively gutted and the odious “Dry Foot/Wet Foot” policy has been upheld longer than under Clinton. George Bush is not our amigo his unctuous words to the contrary notwithstanding.

  8. Manuel,

    The circumstances involving the parents are very different. Legally, it may end up down a similar road as Elian, only time will tell. But the details DO matter, they matter a lot actually.

  9. The details may matter to someone, but I would be willing to bet that this case is going to be seen by many as the simple issue of a child going “back to Castro” or staying here to be raised in freedom.

    And I think you’re going to see a lot of controversy.


  10. Manuel,
    Whether Bush or whoever, Miami is the politicians field of dreams. If you say it they will vote.They will say the customary viva Cuba libre and people will swoon for the next 4 years. No one has delivered on Cuba and I don’t expect anyone will soon. How about a promise this election with a timetable and a plan instead of rhetoric?

  11. Robert:

    Details do matter; to reasonable people with no political agenda that will judge a case on its merits. Unfortunately, this has proven not to be the case time and time again. We can all sit here and discuss the similarities and dissimilarities between this case and the Elian case; in the meantime, the pro-castro forces are working diligently behind the scenes to not only make sure this little girl is returned to Cuba, but also that we, the members of the Cuban exile community, receive another black-eye in the process.

    In the past we have sat idly by, confident of the fact that justice and truth were on our side only to find out that it has nothing to do with justice and truth and everything to do with political expediency. Manuel is perfectly right: Bush, nor any other administration, has done nothing more than pay lip service to the plight of the Cuban people. We need to be proactive this time, not reactive.

    We need to organize and we need to organize now. I, for one, am willing to put my time and money where my mouth his. I hope the rest of you will join me. I am not an attorney, but I am sure there is one among you that will be willing to come forward and help organize this united front against what could be another Elian fiasco.

  12. Tio:
    You know who Kurzaban is married to? Magda Monteil Davis, the lawyer who was caught hugging fidel and calling him teacher. Ira used to be on Aruca’s program all the time.

  13. PilotAl:

    I could not have answered Robert better myself and subscribe my name to your reply.

  14. Manuel:

    Thank you, I appreciate your words.

    I am serious about organizing, however. Please, if any of you out there, including you Manuel, are willing to put in the time and effort, please let me know and let us begin the work now. I would love to say we need balance on this issue, but the truth is there is no need for balance. The only two sides are right and wrong, and wrong right now is on the verge, if not already, of getting all the press.

    I have had enough of sitting on the sidelines and watching the a relative minority control the conversation on Cuba/USA relations. It is time we that we rise up and make our voices heard.

    El nino que no llora, no mama; especialmente cuando espera que se acabe la leche para entonces empsesar a llorar.

    I, for one, do not want to feel that same sickening and powerless feeling I felt during the days after Elian was kidnapped by reno’s storm troopers and returned to the dictator. It was the proverbial kick in the crotch. The sight of the non-Cuban members of this community — the same ones we worked with, lived with, celebrated with, cried with — celebrating in the streets the apparent defeat of the Cuban exile community, has left an indelible mark on my heart and soul that I will never forget. We are not loved here — we are merely tolerated; and if we leave it up to them, they will roll over us with nary a care.

    Again I ask for everyone’s help. I have never organized anything of this sort, so I need help to get this done. It is not for me, it is not for you; it is for this little girl and eventually, our identity.

  15. I just cannot go along with sending any child back to Cuba. So for me the details are irrelevant. Both the judge and the lawyer representing the father are prejudiced against Cuban-Americans, and supposedly Cuban state agents were present during the home visit to the father, what does that tell you. How can it be in the best interests of this child to take away her human rights?

  16. The Funny thing is that I had Ira Kurtzban as an instructor for immigration law at Nova Southeastern law school in Broward. He is always supporting the leftists’ point of view outside of class, but he is actually quite the pleasant person to have a beer and chat with. He is not an in your face, accept my ideology or die type person, but he sure has shitty politics.

  17. PilotAl:

    Yes, there is a great deal that needs to be done; more importantly, however, there is a great deal that must not be done. The most important thing is to let this 4-year old child remain anonymous. The generous Cuban heart wants to know and embrace her, but we must control this impulse. In Elián’s case his family invited us into their home and welcomed our support. It is doubtful that the foster family or the mother will do likewise. In any case, it is more important that we embrace the child’s cause than the child. She has no family here to whom we can offer our solidarity except her mother and she is in no position to receive it; nor is it wise to try to influence a mentally unstable person (as the other side is evidently trying to do). This does not mean that we should ignore the child’s real needs or even the mother’s. Let a fund be established to help with their daily expenses and a legal fund as well, of course. Let us be especially wary of who represents her in court. We must avoid friends like Kendall Coffey who sink us with their incompetence. Not every Anglo face is God’s gift to jurisprudence even if pro bono. We must procure an attorney who has the prescience and contingencies in place that will avoid another midnight raid; a lawyer who has no implicit trust in the government’s fairness or its willingness to negotiate in good faith. Or to summarize: a lawyer who is not Janet Reno’s (or any other enemy’s) “best friend.” If federal invervention seems improbable now, it may not seem so later. This case has legs and its resolution may well stretch into the forthcoming Democratic administration, where we’ll have to deal with the same cretins again. Nor should we place much confidence in our amigo in the White House, who will likely do nothing for us if he’s true to form and whose public sympathy may actually be toxic given his standing with the American public.

    As for the American public, it will pose our greatest challenge. They know little or nothing about the nature of Communism anymore, and the media, whose sympathies lie elsewhere and whose personal animus towards us as a community they do not even attempt to conceal, cannot not be depended upon to offer any guidance to the public; rather, they will twist and frame this as merely a run-of-the mill custody case. In fact, as with Elián’s, they will vilify the freedom-seeking mother and aggrandize the slave of a father. But how can we circumvent or ouwit the MSM to get the facts to the American public? If the independent journalists in Cuba can do this in the face of government aggression, surely there must be a way to put our message across despite the static coming from the media or even the administration (whichever it may be). It is a daunting task but one which must be accomplished if we are to save this child’s life.

    I firmly hold that the Elían case was our finest hour in this endless exile. Our community stood as one for the first time in decades. We knew what was at stake; it was a part of our collective consciousness; and perhaps one must have experienced what we did to understand both the depth of our emotions and our pain. We were true to ourselves and Elián. If the others failed to recognize the truth or tried to debase us, it is their limitations or malice that are to blame for the outcome of that case. We acted our part well and with great dignity and we were right. Never has anyone been more right than us: the brutalization of Elián in Cuba and his conscription at age 6 as the youngest recruit in Castro’s propaganda wars has proved us right in all our apprehensions. If we erred at all it was in placing too much confidence in this country’s institutions and we will not do that again.

  18. Guajiro de Broward:

    No one has more commonsense than does the guajiro; his native wisdom is worth ten college educations. Being personable is not a gift denied to our enemies. The greatest psychopaths are the the world’s most personable men because otherwise it would be impossible for them to prey on others. Do not confuse personality with character. Personality is the fascade of a building; character is its foundation.

  19. Pilot Al:

    Something else: I am glad that you have discovered the truth about your American friends and neighbors. But do not attribute it to the fact that they are Americans: the people who burnt our homes and cried for our blood 48 years ago in Cuba were Cubans too.

  20. Robert:

    As I mentioned before, I have never done anything like this before, so I would not know where to begin. However, since we know that Kurtzban is involved, we can be sure that he has organized his propaganda machine and before we know it, we will see a press conference with him and that a**hole from the Council of Churches decrying the US government for keeping a child from her birth parent. When that happens–if we’re not organized–we are going to have to play catch-up; a game that experience has already taught us to be a difficult, if not impossible one to win.

    I am not an attorney, nor do I specialize in immigration or political issues. However, my career affords me the acquaintance of some very powerful and wealthy Cuban exiles that I can approach for monetary and political help. I am willing to use those connections, but I cannot do it alone.

  21. Manuel:

    You are absolutely right; the girl and her foster parent’s privacy must be protected at all costs. However, while we do the “right thing,” our opponents (Kurtzban, et al) will blow the whole thing up and publish everyone’s name and address when the time is right for them. At that point, if we are not ready, we will be steamrolled yet again.

    You are correct in stating that the last thing we need is a Kendall Cofey representing the little girl. I still remember how baffled I felt when I heard his name mentioned as being one of Elian’s supporters/attorneys. Right there and then, I smelled a rat. No, we have to avoid those that have strong ties to the opposition. We need a well-known litigator that has achieved his success on his own, not by his ties to the liberal wing of American politics. The ideal person would be one that feeds off publicity and will take out anyone that gets in their way, regardless of their political affiliation.

    In regards to my epiphany regarding my “American friends and neighbors,” I wish I could be as happy as you are. Having grown up in Little Havana during the sixties and seventies, I was sheltered from most of the racism that seems so prevalent today. It is hard to feel discriminated against when everyone around you is a Cuban exile just like you. Nevertheless, as the Cuban exile community spread out and I began to deal with others besides Cubans, I began to realize that we were not their favorites. I always chalked it up to envy; these people were not used to seeing “Latinos” without a machete in their hand trimming their lawns. They had a hard time not only seeing us prosper, but in many cases, excel over them economically and socially. I never saw great harm in it until I watched them on US-1 with their signs and banners, dancing and celebrating one of the most heart-breaking moments in Cuban history. It was not a show of support for Reno or Clinton; it was a celebration that the big Cuban machine, the one they had watched grow from nothing into a powerful political and economic force, had been finally defeated and for all intents and purposes, castrated. The sickening feeling I experienced as I watched this did not just come from the realization that these people really did hate us that much. The major part of the revolting sensation came from the fact that I, as a member of this Cuban exile community, did in fact feel castrated at that moment. As much as I wanted to lash out at them and make them pay for their callous and malicious exhibition, there was nothing I, nor could any other Cuban exile do. In standing up for what was right and justified, we were turned into the laughing stock of the world, relegated to irrelevance by the MSM. We did the right thing, as we should have done, but we fell into the trap that says doing the right thing is enough. We have to do what is right, but we must also do what it takes to win.

    I cannot sit by and allow this to happen again. It is true what you say and we have nothing to be ashamed of; we were right. But being right does not mean you win every time. We do not have to lower ourselves to their level and start slinging mud, but we must be prepared to fight when the first fist full of mud is thrown. It is not a question of “if,” it is a question of “when.”

    Our community is full of brilliant attorneys, public relations people, and news reporters that sympathize with our cause. Now is the time to assemble our forces and organize our offensive, not our defensive. Not only is this innocent little girl’s life in the balance, so is our identity and our community.

  22. Pilot Al:

    I too was mortified and unspeakably angry when I saw all those people on US1 demonstrate against us. In fact…I don’t believe that I have ever been the same since.

    It was like slamming into a wall of reality that I was unaware even existed. I saw pure hatred in those people. I am much more careful about whom I trust regarding anything to do with Cuba. This goes for other Latin Americans as well.

    This next time around, I don’t want to feel so helpless…so I volunteer to do whatever is needed to fight back in a dignified manner. Let me know when you need me.

  23. Oh and what do you think can be done to remove this “judge” Cohen from this case? After reading Manuel’s posts, I would think this is the last person who should be involved in any case that involves sending people back to Cuba.

  24. Mavi:

    The images on my TV screen were surreal. My first reaction was to jump into my car and drive over there and tell them what I thought, but what good would that have done? I would probably have been jumped by twenty people, beaten to a pulp, and then shown on the evening news as one of those violent and intransigent Cuban exiles that tried to violently silence the opposition.

    I appreciate your offer to join in and I am sure there are many more like you ready to help in any way they can.

    Val, Henry, George–all of you guys with the ability to marshall the forces–we need to get this ball rolling. You can count on Mavi and myself, as we have both posted here, as well as the others that are willing but have not posted, to help in any way we can to do this right from the beginning.

  25. Pilot Al:

    I knew, of course, that the tragic dénouement of the Elián case had a profound effect on Cubans raised in this country who had been too young to notice the same xenophobic reaction in the wake of the Mariel boatlift (not the first or the last of these reactions). I did not know, however, having never lived in Miami or visited in 10 years, just how profound a wound this was on all your psyches. Now with Val and Robert’s testimony, and especially yours, I can see that this is your Cuban-American generation’s Vietnam.

    It must have been a painful disillusionment, but you should profit by its lessons: This country does not love us or appreciate us enough (certainly not according to our deserts). Its equal laws are not always equal. The imperial presidency can override on ocassion the Constitution (as it did in the Elián case). Justice does not always prevail. America is imperfect and was always imperfect.

    The realization of these shortcomings, however, does not give us a license to ignore our duty in respect to this child and any other victim of Castro’s tyranny. Our feelings could be hurt in the process, but we are grown men and should be able to deal with that. What we should not do, however, is hide from a 4-year old child, especially one who needs us and has every claim to our support.

  26. From the information we have, I’m not sure what recourse the exile community has in this case. It’s been in the process for a year, and it appears the case has been heard. Is anyone familiar with the attorney representing the custodial family?

  27. Ziva:

    A case can always be appealed if necessary, as this one undoubtedly will be now. There is still much that we can do, as outlined above.


    A very salient point. A judge who is on record as favoring the deportation of Cubans should hardly be entrusted with the decision of whether to deport this one.


    How long to you think The Miami Herald has sat on this story? A good angle to investigate on Herald Watch.

  28. Manuel:

    We have a duty; it is no simpler than that.

    We cannot allow the same thing to take place. The lessons we all learned after Elian was kidnapped were difficult ones, and I am sorry to say that many other Cuban-Americans I know did not see it the same way Mavi, many others, and I did. Maybe the many years of living in this country have jaded them to the point where they doubt their own ideas of what justice is and what it is not. Complacency is very easy in this country; in fact, the politicians count on it to be able to do as they please. We all have cars, homes, computers, and eat three meals a day. With all of that, it is easy to forget our brothers and sisters who do not have those “luxuries.” We don’t even think about those things; they are supposed to be there.

    But I digress; the point here is this little girl. It is up to us now to either take the lessons from the past and use them to craft a better defense for this little girl, or, use them as the excuse to let a bunch of scoundrels ruin her life and sentence her to a life of oppression and suffering.

    The outcome so far is uncertain. What cannot be uncertain is our solidarity and willingness to stand up and fight. If we sit by quietly while the same thing happens again, we are no better than the ones who are out to destroy her life: hypocrites acting out of political expediency, picking and choosing our battles.

    Maybe I am being paranoid here, this issue will resolve itself, and this little girl will not be returned to the island prison. Maybe I am just a little jittery from the dredged up memories of Elian. Maybe this case is completely different from Elian’s and we should not be worrying so much about it. Maybe I am seeing ghosts and UFOs and should start wearing a tin foil hat. But what if I am not being paranoid? What if this case goes sour? Will we be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say we did all we could do?

    All of you out there that are reading this and have not decided whether this is something you should be worrying about, stop for a moment and think of the possible ramifications our inaction may have on this little girl. We do not have the luxury to pick our fights–this one has been chosen for us.

    Will we fight, or acquiesce?

  29. PilotAl:

    Your writing gives me great hope for the future. Perhaps some day soon I’ll be able to take a vacation. Not just now,though.

  30. Manuel:

    Thank you, but I don’t think any of us can take a vacation now. I went over to the link you put up a few posts back and I can see the storm clouds brewing. We’re in for a fight here and what worries me is that I don’t see a sense of urgency in many people.

    I hope that I am wrong.

  31. PilotAl:

    Judge Cohen’s verdict will awaken them to the truth soon. Although, frankly, I am surprised also that this many-times abused 4-year old girl doesn’t seem to merit as much sympathy as is rightly bestowed on Fariñas and Biscet.

  32. I am at a loss here, Manuel. There is a 4-year old girl that is possibly about to have her already tumultuous life tossed into a hell that no innocent adult, let alone a child, should be subjected to. I look around and no one seems to be overly concerned. Are we the crazy ones?

    After seeing the opposition already beginning their preparations, soon we’re going to find ourselves a day late and a dollar short. They are sharpening their arguments and before long, the articles will begin to appear in the press saying that indeed this case is not like Elian’s. The experts will explain that there is no legal question she should be returned to her father in Cuba and that the judge’s decision was a “slam dunk.”

    Guess what… by then it will be too late.

  33. PilotAl:

    They think they are smarter than us because they can’t be “baited.” I think they are just stone-hearted.

  34. A DNA test should be mandated by the Court. There is no reason to assume that the man who claims to be the girl’s father and is suing for custody is indeed her father. Here his only standing would be as the biological father since he has no standing as the legal father having never been married to the mother.

  35. Havana’s Hostages

    Fidel Castro divides Cuban families.

    The Wall Street Journal,
    Monday, January 31, 2000

    MIAMI–No aspect of the Elian Gonzalez debate is more galling than the way Fidel Castro and his U.S. supporters have posed as champions of family unity. Havana routinely divides families by preventing children in Cuba from joining their parents in America, with nary an objection from the National Council of Churches and its allies in the fight for Elian’s deportation.

    There are no official statistics on the number of separated families; Cuban-American leaders here offer estimates ranging from hundreds to thousands. Many stateside family members hesitate to go public for fear of retaliation against kin in Cuba. But in three weeks, a new group called Mission Elian has documented 32 such cases. In some, children in Cuba are separated from both parents in America.

    Typical is the story of Jose Cohen, the 35-year-old owner of an e-commerce company here. [I]n August 1994 he, his brother Isaac and two other men crowded into a tiny two-seat motorized raft for a three-day voyage to America. Mr. Cohen left behind his wife, Lazara Brito Cohen, and his children, stepdaughter Yanelis, now 15, daughter Yamila, 11, and son Isaac, eight. When Mr. Cohen became a U.S. resident in April 1996, he applied for and was granted U.S. visas for his family. Mrs. Cohen applied to the Cuban government for exit visas. Hearing nothing for a year, she began sending letters to Cuban officials, from Fidel Castro on down. Mr. Cohen produces a sheaf of photocopied responses on Cuban government letterhead, each informing his wife that her case is being referred to another agency. Mr. Cohen says even the evasive answers have stopped since Mr. Castro made Elian’s case a cause célèbre.

    “Every time we see the hope of living like every other family, it’s not in the near future,” Mr. Cohen says. “My wife and three children are hostages of the regime.”


  36. At Least Let’s Take Comfort in the Fact that the Little Cuban Girl Is Represented by the Best Attorney in the State:

    On behalf of the Section, Tom Hall also presented the Pro Bono Award to Alan I. Mishael. This award recognizes appellate practioners who provide representation to people, groups and causes that otherwise could not afford it.

    Alan Mishael represents the ideal to which we should all aspire. Through trial and appellate litigation, and statutory reform, Alan has worked for more than a decade to improve the lives of children in state care. Some examples illustrate Alan’s exceptional level of commitment to this work.

    In 1995, while a partner at Shutts & Bowen in Miami, Alan spearheaded federal civil rights litigation involving immigrant children in state care, culminating in statewide administrative rules mandating equal treatment, limiting the authority of the state to transfer alien children abroad, and affirmatively obligating the state to provide representation to eligible dependent children in securing permanent residency for them from the INS.

    After opening his own practice in 1998, Alan was appointed to represent a foreign-born, quadriplegic infant. At his own expense, Alan flew in a foreign physician to furnish expert testimony that, if repatriated, the indigent child would lack the specialized care he needed. The court determined in detailed factual findings that it lacked jurisdiction. Alan secured an emergency stay from the appellate court, briefed and argued the appeal, and secured reversal. Alan then handled the proceedings on remand which resulted in the child’s adoption in the United States.

    In 2002, Alan handled the principal briefing and argument supporting affirmance in DCF v. J. C., 847 So. 2d 487 (Fla.3d DCA 2002), which upheld a juvenile judge’s authority to temporarily restore, over the Department of Children and Family’s separation of powers objection, a disrupted pre-adoptive placement pending the court’s review of what the government proposed instead. In 2004, the Florida legislature enacted, and Governor Bush signed, legislation that Alan authored restricting DCF’s authority to unilaterally remove children from pre-adoptive homes and authorizing DCF’s adoptive consent to be waived when unreasonably withheld. Two years earlier, Alan had drafted a revision to Chapter 63 which became law providing statutory authority for open adoption agreements involving adult biological relatives.

    A founding member of Florida’s Children First, a statewide child advocacy organization, Alan’s tenacious and analytical work on countless pro bono cases and legislative initiatives demonstrates a commitment to public service that has helped change Florida law for the better and which is in the highest traditions of the Florida Bar.


  37. Manuel:

    Maybe I am having another one of those epiphanies. Like the one before, I did not see this one coming either.

  38. PilotAl:

    And there’s more good news: Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen is up for re-election in 2008. This is her big chance to change her image in the Cuban-American community from defamer to heroine. Clearly, we can see what is in her best interest. We must believe that Judge Cohen is no less clearsighted when it comes to that.

  39. Hola Manuel A. Tellechea:

    Dont get me wrong, I dont support the actions of Ira Kurtzban. I was merely giving you all some personal insight into the guy. During class he was coming late and he canceled a few classes because the guy was defending the drug runner dictator in Haiti after he fled to Africa.

    There is a loop hole in the Lawyer’s ethical code of conduct (si, hay uno para lo que dudan), which the FL Supreme Court enforces. If the case offends your moral compass or you find the matter repulsive then you dont have to take the case. If I was the interviewing lawyer …… mando al padre del nino donde el diablo gritar y nadie hears him! 🙂

    The standard in FL is “what is in the best interest of the child!” being in America (better in Miami) is what is best for the child no matter what these commi f**ks say.

  40. PilotAl:

    She seems to be in a more advantageous situation than Elián even without relatives in this country. For one thing, the media have not made it their national mission to return this child to Cuba as a vindication of “family values” which liberals take as a joke in this country except when it entails returning a helpless Cuban child to a ruthless tyrant. For another thing, she lucked out in having a competent lawyer and a compromised judge. What she does not have, unfortunately, is the support of our community, for as we have seen here and elsewhere, those who should be at the vanguard have deferred that responsibility because they do not want to get their feelings hurt again. It is inconceivable to me how they can place their feelings above the life and future of this battered child, but disassociation appears to empower them now whereas engagement in the Elián case left them feeling impotent.

    So, though things may look good now, as originally in Elián’s case, there could be any number of factors that could change that literally overnight.

    On the night of the Elián raid, we all went “to sleep confident that everything would be alright.” Good-faith negotiations were underway, right? The government would surely not attempt to kidnap the child at gunpoint even as those negotiations were being conducted, right? And that was our mistake: to think that there is ever one ounce of honesty on the part of this government when it comes to Cuba.

    On a level playing field, with an administration which adhered to court decisions and the Rule of Law, we would have prevailed in the Elián case. The morning raid proved it. If Clinton-Reno had thought that they could have prevailed in the courts they would never have undertaken that raid. It was the certainty that they would lose that guided their actions that day.

    Of course, whatever the judge’s decision in the girl’s case, it will be appealed. This case will be with us for a long time and may very well carry over to another Clinton administration, not that the Bush administration gives us much confidence.

  41. Guajiro de Broward:

    I admire your intestinal fortitude. Sitting at a table with Ira Kurtzban is more than any human should have to endure, and carrying away a not unpleasant recollection of that event requires mental and physical resources that lie beyond those of ordinary men.

    The extent of Kurtzban’s dealings with the Castro regime will be known soon to all. I hope somebody will notice because there will be thousands of other better-known names that will be exposed at the same time.

  42. Manuel:

    I certainly hope you are right and at this moment, barring a sudden reversal by the majority of this Cuban-American on-line community, it appears that hope is truly all we have. I have to admit that I was taken aback by the apparent disinterest in this subject. Perhaps they know something we do not; perhaps–as you said–they do not want to put their hearts on the line as was done with Elian, to have it smashed to pieces. You are correct in your summation that the Elian case indeed left us with a feeling of weakness. However, “de los cobardes no se a escrito nada!”

    I will continue to pursue this case on my own, with the little connections and knowledge of such matters that I have. Even if my efforts are for naught, I will be able to look myself in the mirror and say that I, as a product of multiple generations of native-born Cubans, did everything within my power and abilities to uphold the honor of my ancestors, and my heritage.

    I do not say this in an attempt to criticize anyone on this blog, or any other pro-Cuba blog. Everyone is different and handles situations in their own way. I just found it odd how the initial fervor surrounding this issue has died down to three lonely voices: Guajiro, you, and myself.

    It’s very odd.

  43. PilotAl:

    It’s not odd at all. It’s called denial. It’s a defense mechanism that most people use when they do not want to face a truth that’s staring them in the face. The Elián case was the Cuban-Americans’ Vietnam. It will be a long time before they can come to terms with it. I, for one, am quite used to the U.S. betraying us. In fact, I should be dumbstruck if it ever stopped.

  44. Pilot AL,

    I’m still here…I read most of the comments at the Herald regarding this issue and I just can’t help getting really angry. So I decided to just keep reading without commenting for fear of saying something that I might regret or lower me to the depths which I see at that despicable site.

    There are many things I have to say regarding this, but I prefer to speak in private. I’m willing to help in any way necessary and have told most of my friends and family what’s going on. I appreciate both your and Manuel’s updates and insights and would like for us to get together, but I prefer not to post my email or phone number here.

    I would rather fight and lose, than lose without a fight. So I’m not going to give up just because my feelings might get hurt. Elian was the final disillusionment for me regarding American Democracy especially with regards to anything Cuban. But I too believe that I must stand up for what is right even if it hurts.

    I would rather be on our side of this story 1000 times and lose, than be on the other side and win.

  45. Mavi:

    Ziva is also in our little group and our little group will grow. You can be sure of that. I am going to reside permanently on this thread until the case of the little girl is resolved. You may soon have to go into the Archives to find this thread, however. I’m glad that I am not alone here. But even if I were alone, I would still be in good company.

  46. Mavi:

    I am glad you are still here. I, like Manuel, will remain here in vigil for this little girl. We will do as much as our small group can do and hopefully, we will be proven wrong and our fears will be for naught. Let us pray that be the case.

  47. Friends:

    This poor battered Cuban child, the emblem and hope of our wounded country, deserves to know that she has a million mothers and a million fathers amongst us. A child, any child, represents the moral universe in its most pristine state. The crimes that have already been committed against her — the great crime which may yet be committed — should make her an object of universal sympathy in our community. If it does not, then it is we who have lost our humanity and purpose and any claim to the good opinion of mankind.

  48. Hello There,

    Is there any more information yet?

    I have and will be praying for this little girl’s safety and happiness.

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