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The BBC's Philippa Thomas in Cuba
"Eleven million Cubans want their boy back"
 real 28k

The BBC's Mark Percy reports:
"Could be Elian's last weekend in the US"
 real 28k

Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 03:25 GMT 04:25 UK
Clinton warning for Elian's relatives
Miami protesters
Miami protesters refuse to give Elian up
President Clinton has said the relatives of Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old Cuban boy shipwrecked off Florida, will sooner or later have to comply with the ruling that he be reunited with his father and taken back to Cuba.

Mr Clinton's comments came as more than 200 demonstrators opposed to Elian's return maintained their vigil outside the Miami house where he has been staying with relatives.

"In the end," said Mr Clinton, "the law has to be obeyed."


Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Elian's father branded allegations of child abuse as "lies"
The president said he hoped that people who had come to the United States seeking freedom and the rule of law would themselves observe the law.

Earlier, government officials reminded the boy's great-uncle that he had lost legal custody of Elian when he defied an order to hand him over to his father, who is waiting in Washington.

President Clinton said he had spoken to Attorney-General Janet Reno, herself a native of Miami, about her efforts to return Elian to his father. "I just told her that I strongly supported her efforts," he said.

'Smear' campaign

Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, denied accusations on Saturday that he was a wife-beater who had also abused his son.


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
13 April: Hanover deadline ignored
11 May: Scheduled date for full hearing
The Miami branch of his family produced an affidavit late on Friday, signed by the only man to survive November's ill-fated journey to Florida, alleging that Juan Miguel Gonzalez attacked Elian's mother, Elizabeth Brotons, so severely that she needed hospital treatment.

But in an interview to be broadcast on the CBS' 60 minutes programme on Sunday, Mr Gonzalez described the allegations as "lies, totally".

"What's happening is that they're trying by any means possible ... [to] characterise me as an aggressive person.

"This is an attempt to smear me," he said. "Give me back my son."

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the Miami family had failed to provide any concrete evidence of abuse or establish sufficient reason to believe that Mr Gonzalez was not a "fit and loving father".

Enforcement

A panel of three judges will meet in the coming days to consider whether to uphold the temporary ruling won by the relatives on Thursday, and the government's latest response.


Elian on swing
Nearly five months since Elian arrived in Florida
A full hearing on the Elian case is scheduled for 11 May.

The US Immigration and Naturalisation Commissioner, Doris Meissner, said on Friday that action would be taken to enforce this ruling.

Supporters of Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, who has been caring for the boy since his rescue almost five months ago, said on Saturday they would not break the law but promised the authorities would have to walk over them to take the child.

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See also:

15 Apr 00 | Americas
Relatives denounce Elian's father
14 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian video sparks controversy
12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
14 Apr 00 | Americas
Janet Reno: From Waco to Elian
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
04 Apr 00 | Americas
High emotion in Havana and Miami
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