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Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 03:50 GMT 04:50 UK
Castro claims 'victory'
Fidel Castro giving speech
Castro addressed a theatre packed with students
By Tom Gibb in Havana

Shortly after the US lawyer representing Elian Gonzalez' father said he would travel to the United States to seek a reunion with his son, President Castro declared victory.

Addressing a theatre packed with thousands of students from Latin America and the Caribbean, Fidel Castro said the battle for Elian has been won both in political and legal terms.

But he warned there was still a danger that what he called the Cuban American mafia could try to kidnap and hide Elian, even if the family in Miami is willing to hand the boy over.

Negotiations

He also gave a long explanation of the detailed negotiations that have taken place over the last week for the father to travel to the United States.


Castro and Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Earlier in the week Fidel Castro met Juan Miguel Gonzalez and six-year-old son Hianny
The Cubans had been demanding that 27 people go with him to Washington, including 12 of Elian's classmates, psychiatrists and doctors. President Castro said they were needed to prepare Elian for his return to Cuba.

However, after the US authorities issued only six visas, the Cubans have now backed down.

President Castro said the father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, had decided to travel without the whole group after all-day discussions with his US lawyer.

No force

As soon as he touches US soil, President Castro said, he will start procedures to recover his son.

The United States government has the means to resolve this without the use of force, he said - that is what we want.

Finally, he called on the US authorities to issue visas to the 22 others in the group, accusing the United States of being miserly, and he promised that even if Elian is returned, his campaign against imperialism would continue.

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian's father set for US arrival
05 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: The battle for Elian
04 Apr 00 | Americas
High emotion in Havana and Miami
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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