What's Best for Elian?


Responding to our April 17 cover story, "Elian's Ordeal," many readers vigorously opposed sending the little boy home. In Cuba, wrote one, "children belong to the state and the state is Fidel Castro." But most asserted that Elian should be with his father (even if that means a return to Cuba) and that he has been ill served by his Miami relatives. "Since when does politics take precedence over family," asked one, "especially where children are concerned?" Another letter writer declared, "A decision on Elian's welfare should have been made months ago. Anyone could see that the longer no decision was made, the more problems would arise."

Little Boy, Big Issues Your cover story "Elian's Ordeal" (NATIONAL AFFAIRS, April 17) was superb. You provided much-needed information about life in Cuba and how the political system is failing to provide a decent living standard for the Cuban people, including the children.

Mohamad A. Khalil

Morgantown, W.Va.

Oh, come on: Elian is "Castro's propaganda trophy"? Take a good look at the video of the little boy sitting on a bed, announcing that he doesn't want to go back to Cuba. The Miami family of this child has taken propaganda to a new level, and the American media have bent over backward to accommodate them. It's time for everyone, from the media and government to the so-called family in Miami, to back off and let the boy spend time with his dad. That is where he belongs. The Miami Cubans have proved to me that their hate for Fidel Castro is far more important to them than any "love" they may claim to have for Elian. Elian's father met all the demands of the Miami family when he came to this country. But they kept setting new conditions. Face it: these people never had any intention of giving this child back. As long as he's here, they will get more than their 15 minutes of fame. Do I smell book deals and endless talk shows ahead?

Shirley Schneck

Benton Harbor, Mich.

No doubt when he returns to Cuba, Elian will be told what a traitor his mother was for trying to bring him to freedom and how awful those people in Miami were for wanting him to grow up free and full of hope for the future. Don't worry; the "grotesque spectacle" in Miami is nothing compared with what Uncle Fidel will do to Elian, parading him all over Cuba regurgitating propaganda.

Ana Rhodes

Miami, Fla.

Thank you for telling the other side of the Elian story--the touching story of a father's love for his son. The television coverage of this story has seemed biased in favor of Elian's Miami relatives and the Cuban-American protesters, who portray the U.S. government as the bad guy for trying to reunite Elian with his father. Your article revealed the selfishness of Lazaro and Delfin Gonzalez in keeping Elian because they were afraid of looking "bad in front of the Cuban people in Miami." Thank you for giving Juan Miguel Gonzalez a voice.

Josephine K. McGuire

Chicago, Ill.

Keep Elian--return the Miami relatives, neighbors and mayors!

A. G. Sander

Sarasota, Fla.

Would little Elian really be better off in Miami than in drab Havana? Of course he likes it here right now, with everybody spoiling him rotten. I grew up under very austere conditions in South America, but I wouldn't want to trade the hardship experiences there for the most luxurious environment. The harsh life in Cuba may well give Elian a more useful start in life than all the visits to Disney World and ice-cream parlors combined.

Gert Aron

Boalsburg, Pa.

As a citizen of the United States, I am disappointed that we are fighting to such an extent to send Elian back to Cuba. This nation is not an exclusive club for a select few, but rather an open door to all those who are oppressed. Elian's mother died in an effort to deliver her son to freedom. Now the United States wants to snuff out all the hopes and aspirations of Elian's life because there must be a reunion of father and son. …

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