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The BBC's Tom Gibb reports
"Elian is being tortured in the full public eye" - President Castro
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 April, 2000, 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK
Elian's father rejects US residency
Elian's family fear authorities will seize him
Elian's family fear authorities will seize him
The father of a six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor, Elian Gonzalez, has rejected an American Senate proposal to give his family US residency.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez has applied for a visa to enter the US, in order to collect Elian and take him back to Cuba.

On Thursday US Vice-President Al Gore broke ranks with the Clinton administration to urge Congress to back legislation which would give residence to Elian and his close family members.

No defection

But in an open letter to Senate leaders Mr Gonzalez and his relatives condemned the proposal.


Elian and Lazaro Gonzalez
Elian's Uncle Lazaro wants the boy to stay in Miami
"Frankly, we are suprised that someone can take upon himself such an initiative without our consent and without even consulting any of us," the letter said.

Mr Gonzalez's US lawyer, Gregory Craig, said his client had no plans to defect from Cuba.

Elian has been living with his relatives in Miami since surviving a shipwreck off the Florida coast four months ago.

His mother and 10 others died in the accident, which occurred as they attempted to reach the United States.

Elian's Miami relatives said on Friday that they would not release the boy to his father if he arrived in the US for the custody battle.

Delegation

A Miami federal court last week upheld an INS ruling from 5 January that Elian belonged with his father in Cuba. The relatives' appeal is scheduled to be heard on 11 May.

The US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is seeking a signed promise from the relatives that they will surrender Elian if they lose the case.


Proposed Havana delegation
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon
Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his current wife
Elian's half-brother and cousin
12 classmates
Three teachers
Three psychologists, two child psychiatrists
Four doctors, two nurses
Late on Thursday the US Government postponed until Tuesday any move to remove Elian from the relatives' home.

Talks between lawyers and immigration officials are to resume on Monday.

Elian's father, who was divorced from his mother, has applied to visit the United States as part of a 31-member Cuban delegation including Elian's classmates, a teacher, and doctors.

For Mr Gore, gaining the support of Florida's large Cuban emigre community could prove crucial in his campaign for the US presidency.

His Republican opponent in the White House race, George W Bush, said the vice-president should try to persuade the administration to allow Florida's family courts to handle the matter instead of the federal immigration service.

"I would hope the vice-president would use his influence with the administration," said Mr Bush.

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See also:

31 Mar 00 | Americas
Gore changes stance on Elian
31 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Estefan joins Cuban boy row
30 Mar 00 | Americas
US delays Elian deadline
30 Mar 00 | Americas
Tensions high over Elian case
27 Mar 00 | Americas
Elian thinks his mother is alive
27 Mar 00 | Americas
Castro confident of Elian's return
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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