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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"It has bought the Miami relatives a little more time"
 real 28k

Monday, 27 March, 2000, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
Elian thinks his mother is alive
Elian and cousin
Elian's relatives think his appearance on television will keep him in the US
The six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor at the centre of an international custody fight says he doesn't believe his mother died when the boat they were in sank.

On the same day his Miami relatives started their appeal to keep him in America, Elian Gonzalez told ABC news that he remembers his mother putting him on an inner tube and how he fell asleep.

My mother is not in heaven, not lost. She must have been picked up

Elian Gonzalez
Fishermen later found the boy tied to the tube, floating off the Florida coast, but his mother and 10 others died when their boat sank.

Elian's father is demanding his return to Cuba but after a long battle, the boy's relatives in America are being allowed by US Attorney General Janet Reno to appeal a decision by the immigration services to send Elian back to Cuba.

Attorneys in Miami filed a motion on Monday, and a ruling could come as early as this week.

TV show

On Good Morning America, Elian, speaking through interpreters, said he did not believe his mother had drowned.

Elian and Cousin
Elian with his cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez
"My mother is not in heaven, not lost," he said through his cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez, who is looking after him in Miami. "She must have been picked up. She must have lost her memory, and just doesn't know I'm here."

His cousin gently reminded him that he knows what really happened to his mother, but he stayed silent.

In an apparent bid to increase American support for their battle to keep Elian, the Miami relatives last week allowed an ABC reporter to spend two days with the boy.

A film of the boy at his private school, where he drew pictures of the voyage from Cuba, was seen on television on Monday.

Fidel Castro
Castro is angry over interviews with the boy
He drew a leaping dolphin - he has told people that dolphins kept him safe, keeping away sharks and pushing him up when he slipped down into the water.

In a speech on Sunday in Havana, Cuban President Fidel Castro said subjecting Elian to interviews was "monstrous and sickening."

"You cannot do this without the authorisation of the father," said Castro. "I sincerely think that this boy is at risk in the hands of desperate people and the government of the United States should not be running this risk."

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See also:

27 Mar 00 | Americas
Castro confident of Elian's return
25 Mar 00 | Americas
US sets new Elian deadline
22 Mar 00 | Americas
Father ready to take Elian home
03 Feb 00 | Americas
Elian: View from Cuba
29 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The Dalai Lama of Little Havana
11 Dec 99 | Americas
Asylum bid for shipwreck boy
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