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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Miami
"Mrs Reno's frustration with the delaying tactics has reached its limit"
 real 28k

US Attorney-General Janet Reno
"I tried to make sure that I analysed everything as thoroughly as possible"
 real 28k

Protester Ramon Saul Sanchez
"This is a sad day for the Cuban exile community"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Force ruled out over Elian
The police and protestors have surrounded the relatives house
Police will not be used to enforce the order for Cuban shipwreck boy Elian Gonzalez to be handed over to the US authorities, US Attorney General Janet Reno has said.

She said that the US Government was prepared to enforce the order, but would do so in a reasonable and measured way.

She was speaking as protestors were surrounding the house in Miami's Little Havana where Elian is staying with relatives.

Lazarao Gonzalez
Mr Gonzalez says he will not hand Elian over
The boy's relatives have said they would not hand the boy over at Opa-Locka Airport near Miami by 1400 local time (1800 GMT) - the deadline set by Mrs Reno.

The boy's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, said he "will not turn this child over - not in Opa-Locka, not in any 'locka'".

"They will have to take this child from me by force," he said.

Janet Reno
Janet Reno: Seeking a resolution

Cuban American protesters have said they would link arms and form a human chain around the house to stop federal agents from going in.

Police role

Miami City Mayor Joe Carollo said that police would protect federal agents if they tried to take the boy.

But he added that there were limits to the role he would let the police play in the affair.

The Elian saga
27 Nov: Rescued off Florida coast
29 Nov: Cuba accuses US of kidnap
11 Dec: Lawyers file for asylum for Elian in US
5 Jan: INS decides Elian should return to Cuba
11 Jan: Miami judge grants great-uncle temporary custody
26 Jan: Elian's grandmothers meet him in Miami
21 Mar: Judge rejects Elian asylum application
6 April: Elian's father arrives in Washington
12 April: Janet Reno orders relatives to hand over the boy
"The one thing that Miami police will not do, because it's not our obligation or responsibility under the law, is to go inside that house to take little Elian," Mr Carollo said.

"It has been very obvious to me for quite some time now that today was going to be D-Day," the mayor added.


Meanwhile, the Vatican has confirmed that its embassy in Washington would be available as a venue for Elian to be returned to his father.

They have not seen each other since Elian left Cuba in a refugee boat last November.

Once Juan Miguel Gonzalez has custody of Elian, he is not bound to stay in the US.

Elian was rescued by two fishermen from the sea between Cuba and Florida after the boat carrying him capsized, leaving his mother dead.

Since then, Cuba demanded Elian's return and accused his Miami relatives of using psychological pressure to influence him.

Cuban exiles have meanwhile taken up Elian as a symbol of their opposition to the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.

Vatican embassy
The Vatican embassy in Washington: Possible handover site
They have been fighting for his political asylum in the US, despite the immigration service having ruled that he must be returned to his father.

Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, a friend of the Miami relatives, said Elian woke up screaming this week fearing he would have to make a journey back to Cuba on a boat - in similar conditions as the journey in which his mother died.

"He woke up on Wednesday and was so upset as he thought he would go back on a raft," she said.

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See also:

12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
04 Apr 00 | Americas
High emotion in Havana and Miami
04 Feb 00 | Americas
Elian's story: Special report
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