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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant reports
"Let him stay"
 real 28k

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Miami
"The future of young Elian is still in doubt"
 real 28k

Child psychologist, Dr Leonard Haber
"If this continues much longer, it's not much good for this lucky boy"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 08:42 GMT
Grandmothers fail to see Elian

grans The women are making public appeals in the US for Elian's return

The grandmothers of Cuban Elian Gonzalez, the shipwrecked six-year old boy at the centre of an international custody battle, have left Miami after failing to see the boy.

Reports said the two women left on a private plane for Washington as Miami relatives arrived to meet them at Tamiami Airport - without the six-year-old.

The grandmothers will lobby for Elian's return to his father in Cuba ahead of attempts in US Congress to prevent him being repatriated.

The Miami relatives, who want to keep Elian in the United States, had insisted that the Cuban grandmothers come to their house if they wanted to see him.

But the two women, Mariela Quintana and Raquel Rodriguez, had apparently been worried about a crowd gathered around the house, located in an area of the city dominated by the anti-Castro community. They had wanted to meet on neutral ground.

arrest One man was arrested at a protest outside the Miami family house

"We were not confident of the security arrangements particularly when we discovered that the family wanted to make this a circus," said Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, who escorted the two women to Miami.

At the same time, Elian's Miami relatives said they were afraid he might be snatched and taken back to Cuba by force if he left the house.

We were not confident of the security arrangements particularly when we discovered that the family wanted to make this a circus
Representative of grandmothers

Elian has been at the centre of a bitter tug-of-war between Fidel Castro's government and Cuban exiles in the US since being rescued off the coast of Florida in November.

He was found clinging to an inner tube after a boat carrying his mother, stepfather and nine other would-be immigrants from Cuba capsized. He was the only survivor.

Citizenship bill

The grandmothers have been in the US for several days, making public appeals for the boy's return to Cuba, in line with a decision by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

It had ruled that Elian must be sent back to Cuba to live with his father, but the Miami family is suing in a federal court to block the boy's return.

Elian outside school A school administrator leads Elian out after the end of class on Monday

There were also moves in the US Congress on Monday to introduce legislation to give Elian US citizenship - which would free him from the jurisdiction of the INS.

Florida Senator Connie Mack, the chief sponsor of the bill formally introduced the measure in the Senate, and Senate majority leader Trent Lott invoked a parliamentary procedure designed to bring it before the chamber as early as Wednesday for debate.

It became clear that the decision on Elian was based on politics, not his best interest
Senator Connie Mack

Senator Mack conceded in an interview with the BBC that Elian's fate had become political. He was sponsoring the legislation to give Elian US citizenship so that the courts could decide Elian's future on the basis of his best interest.

"There were rallies in Havana and the perception is clear that that political pressure caused the Clinton administration and the INS to change their position and say that this is an immigration issue to be determined by INS. Once I saw that, it became clear that the decision on Elian was based on politics, not his best interest."

Although a Wednesday vote is possible, both sides said they doubted any final action on the legislation until next week at the earliest.

However several Democratic Congressmen are also sponsoring a non-binding resolution urging that Elian be reunited with his father in Cuba as soon as possible.

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See also:
23 Jan 00 |  Americas
Grandmothers' appeal for Elian
20 Jan 00 |  Americas
Clinton enters row over Cuba boy
19 Jan 00 |  Americas
Elian relatives seek court ruling
16 Jan 00 |  Americas
Analysis: Politics cloud Elian case
17 Jan 00 |  Americas
Cuba attacks Elian 'kidnapping'
12 Jan 00 |  Americas
Reno backs Cuban boy's return
14 Jan 00 |  Americas
Cuban mothers demand boy's return
11 Jan 00 |  Americas
Cuba boy ruling under fire
14 Jan 00 |  Americas
Bizarre twist in custody battle

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