Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Rally to Support Elian's Stay Coast-to-Coast Protests Held on Eve of Hearing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Rally to Support Elian's Stay Coast-to-Coast Protests Held on Eve of Hearing

Article excerpt

About 40 demonstrators, many holding American flags, rallied in downtown Jacksonville yesterday morning for a few hours in support of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy removed from the home of his Miami relatives last month.

Some of the signs protesters held read "In Cuba the real parent is the state" and "Elian's right to his own life comes first."

"We are here to rally for the freedom of Elian Gonzalez," said Montserrat Gomez of Jacksonville. "As far as I know, America is the freest, and I do know that Cuba is not."

Protesters gathered at Pearl and Bay streets, across from the Charles Bennett Federal Building. The demonstration was one of 15 held around the country the day before a federal appeals court in Atlanta considers a plea for political asylum for the 6-year-old.

Many demonstrators said they believe Elian's father is being threatened by Cuban President Fidel Castro to bring the boy back. They also said Elian will be raised by the Castro government and not his father.

"Kids in Cuba are the property of the state. Parents have no rights," said Manuel Granados, president of the Cuban-American Club in Jacksonville. "He will not develop as an individual. The American people don't understand that in Cuba you don't have the choices you have here."

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is to consider whether Elian is entitled to pursue an asylum claim against the wishes of his father and an order from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. A decision could come in hours or months.

The appeals court has ordered Elian to stay in the United States until a ruling. He has been with his father, stepmother and 6-month-old half-brother at a secluded Maryland plantation since he was taken from Miami relatives during an armed federal raid April 22.

Gilda Sanchez of Jacksonville said her mother was jailed for six months in Cuba after sending her at age 9 and her 15-year-old sister to America.

"We know that he's not going to stay with his father," said Sanchez, a nurse who took time off to be at the rally. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.