Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Custody Decision on Elian Affirms Parents' Rights ; Returning Him to His Father Angers Cuban Americans. Relatives in US May

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Custody Decision on Elian Affirms Parents' Rights ; Returning Him to His Father Angers Cuban Americans. Relatives in US May

Article excerpt

The decision by the United States to return young Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba marks an important victory for the rights of parents in making decisions about their children's future.

But the move has angered many in the Cuban exile community in south Florida who had argued that Elian's mother gave her life in an attempt to win freedom and a bright future for her son in America.

The decision, announced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) yesterday, caps an emotional custody fight that has been closely watched around the world.

To anti-Castro Cubans here in Florida, there could be nothing more terrible than sending a six-year-old boy with his entire life before him back into the control of a repressive government on an island with a depressed economy. To them, freedom and opportunity are more important than the bond between a parent and child.

Ultimately, the issue came down to who should decide Elian's future, his father or a US judge seeking to determine the best interests of the child.

Experts say that under US and international law, Elian's father retains the right to make such decisions unless there is some evidence that the parent has forfeited that right by either abandoning or abusing the child. There was no such evidence in this case.

"It is a long overdue recognition by the INS that the father has the right to the care and custody of his child and to speak for his child," says Bernard Perlmutter, director of the Children and Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami. "The father's rights are certainly superior to any other family member's who claim a right to make decisions and speak on behalf of Elian."

Mr. Perlmutter says the decision marked a good day for parents, "even parents who hail from countries with whom we have frosty diplomatic relations."

Elian has been staying with his father's uncle and aunt in Miami, and they were expected to attempt to obtain a court order blocking the INS decision. …

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.