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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Elian video sparks controversy
Elian's videotape
In the words of the Chicago Tribune, the videotape caused a furore
The videotape of Elian Gonzalez broadcast on Thursday has prompted controversy among the US press.

The Washington Post says that the tape left Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, depressed and outraged.

It says former senator Dennis DeConcini told how Mr Gonzalez wept when he mentioned the video.


Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, is said to have been outraged
The Chicago Tribune takes a different perspective.

The tape "is a from-the-mouths-of-babes testament to the boy's wish to stay," the Tribune says, while the New York Times calls it "a last-minute plea" by Elian's relatives.

Both newspapers, however, agree that the release of the tape is "expected to provoke a showdown" and has already caused a furore.

Criticism

The Washington Times says that the release of the videotape "prompted much criticism, with many saying the boy seemed prompted by adults and his remarks scripted".



Perhaps he (Lazaro Gonzalez) believes that such a spectacle will vindicate his cause in the eyes of the world. He's wrong

Washington Post
In the words of the Washington Post, the publicity campaign initiated by Elian's Miami relatives, and particularly the videotape, is "disturbing".

"Perhaps he (Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez) believes that such a spectacle will somehow vindicate his cause in the eyes of the world. He's wrong."

The New York Times suggests that Elian's relatives have shot themselves in the foot by producing the tape.

"At age six, Elian clearly cannot fully comprehend the issues swirling about him, and using him as a propaganda instrument is offensive."

'Prisoner of war'

The editorial in the Los Angeles Times is, perhaps, the harshest of all.


Demonstration
Thousands gathered at the boy's home in Miami expecting the decision on Elian
"It comes across like some kind of weird electronic hybrid: a poignant glimpse of childhood captured on home video melded with the unsettling spectacle of a POW mouthing the words of his captors," the newspapers says.

But the video may backfire, the LA Times warns. "There was something about the home-made footage that felt wrong."

The boy "scolded his father in a hollow tone that sounded to some observers more mimicked than harsh".

"The circumstances of his case made his words seem even more incredible. How could a traumatised little boy who watched his mother drown months ago make a competent decision about his future?"



How could a traumatised little boy who watched his mother drown months ago make a competent decision about his future?

Los Angeles Times
The paper suggests, that the boy may have been coached. One of the experts interviewed by the LA Times characterised his performance as "robotic" and the video as "a charade".

The Chicago Tribune suggests that "Elian is desperately trying to please the adults around him. And what those adults want him to say is that he will stay."

"But the central question remained unanswered: How much stock should be put in the wishes of a six-year-old who still has his baby teeth?" the Chicago Tribune asks.



In the matter of Elian, emotion has overtaken legal and political judgement

Chicago Tribune
"In the matter of Elian, emotion has overtaken legal and political judgement."

The Washington Post comments: "Most viewers of this ripe-for-cancellation soap opera will think that the relatives, if they truly had Elian's interests at heart, would be preparing him for an inevitable transition, not turning him against his father."

"Neither the relatives nor the US administration, should be keeping Elian from his father any longer."

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See also:

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US urges Elian handover
04 Feb 00 | Americas
Elian's story: Special report
13 Apr 00 | Americas
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07 Apr 00 | Americas
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13 Apr 00 | Americas
Deadline passes in Elian case
13 Apr 00 | Americas
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12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
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Elian timeline in pictures
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