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The BBC's Tom Gibb in Havana
"The culmination of a four month nationalist crusade"
 real 28k

The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Miami
"Outside Miami, this saga looks ridiculous to many Americans"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Elian's father prepares for US visit
Elian
Elian has lived in Miami since last November
The Cuban father of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez has been granted a visa to travel to the United States in the hope of collecting his son.

American officials said visas for Juan Miguel Gonzalez and five others could be issued as early as Tuesday morning.

Elian is currently in the care of relatives in Miami, who are campaigning to keep him in their custody while appeals are heard in the US courts.

US officials have signalled that the boy could be transferred to his father's care once he arrives from Cuba.

Correspondents say the political temperature among Miami's Cuban expatriate community is rising by the hour, with activists urging people to be ready to surround the house where Elian is staying.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Juan Miguel Gonzalez: Soon to travel to US
Elian's Miami relatives have made clear they have no intention of releasing Elian, but have said the boy's father is welcome to spend time with him in their home if he comes to the US.

In Havana, Fidel Castro joined some 10,000 students and communist party activists shouting "Cuba, yes - Yankee, no!" at the inaugural rally of a new monument in front of the US interests section.

The monument takes the form of a permanent concrete stage which will be used for anti-US protests.

Reunion plans

The Miami relatives' lawyers met US immigration officials on Monday to discuss how to reunite Elian with his father.

The talks broke up without agreement - but further negotiations were expected on Tuesday.

"We continue to be first and foremost concerned about the mental, psychological well-being of this young six-year-old," said Manny Diaz, a lawyer for the Miami relatives.

Demonstration in Miami
Elian's case has become a political issue
"And to that extent, we have spent a lot of time today talking about numerous issues and we will be back tomorrow to continue our conversations."

Correspondents say the focus on reuniting the boy with his father is an indication that the case could reach a conclusion more quickly than expected once Mr Gonzalez arrives in the US.

Previously, such discussions have centred on legal efforts to keep the Cuban boy in the US.

Immigration officials had given the relatives until Tuesday to agree, in writing, to hand over the boy if their legal battle failed.

The custody appeal is due to start in Atlanta on 11 May.

Cuban mission

Cuba says Mr Gonzalez should take charge of Elian at the Cuban mission in Washington during the hearing, which could take up to two months.

President Fidel Castro said he would revoke the diplomatic immunity on the mission during the court appeal.

Elian and cousin
Elian hitches a ride with his cousin in Miami
He said he would do this to satisfy those people who are worried about turning the child over to what is considered Cuban territory.

Visas were granted to Mr Gonzalez, his second wife and their baby son, a young cousin of Elian, a paediatrician and Elian's kindergarten teacher.

Applications for visas for another 22 relatives and friends are still under consideration. The Cuban authorities filed the requests on Monday.

Elian's mother died when their boat was shipwrecked in an illegal attempt to reach the US last November.

Lawyers for the relatives appealed for Mr Gonzalez to come to their home and personally resolve the custody war, just a day after they suggested he was an unfit parent.

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See also:

02 Apr 00 | Americas
Reno renews Elian appeal
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
03 Feb 00 | Americas
Elian: View from Cuba
29 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The Dalai Lama of Little Havana
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