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The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Miami
"A show of overwhelming force"
 real 28k

The BBC's Nick Bryant
reports on the history of the struggle over Elian Gonzalez
 real 28k

The BBC's Tom Gibb in Havana
"The government called on citizens not to take to the streets in demonstrations"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 01:12 GMT 02:12 UK
Elian reunited with father
Elian and his father,  Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Elian and his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Cuban shipwreck boy Elian Gonzalez has been reunited with his father in Washington.

The six-year-old was snatched at the home of his Miami relatives in a pre-dawn raid by heavily armed federal officers.



There was a wonderful smile and close, comfortable physical contact between Elian and his father

Lawyer Gregory Craig
Thousand of Cuban exiles gathered outside the house to express their dismay at the forcible removal of the boy, who has been hailed as an icon of anti-Castro sentiment.

Elian has been at the centre of a bitter custody battle between his Miami relatives and his Cuban father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, since he was shipwrecked off the Florida coast last November.

'Wonderful smile'

Mr Gonzalez boarded the plane carrying Elian the moment it arrived at Andrews Air Force Base.



The moment that Elian was snatched
Mr Gonzalez's lawyer, Gregory Craig, said his client looked relieved when he saw his son for the first time in five months.

"There was a wonderful smile and close, comfortable physical contact between Elian and his father.

"It is amazing how quickly that bond re-established itself. It was almost instantaneous."

The Miami-based relatives went to Washington in the hope of seeing the child but they were not allowed onto the airbase where he is staying with his father.


Protester in Little Havana
Protesters set fire to rubbish skips
Some 80 people were arrested in the Little Havana district where demonstrators set fire to refuse and old tyres. The police used tear-gas to disperse the protestors several times during the day.

Cuba rally

In Cuba, Elian's grandmothers joined President Fidel Castro at a government-organised rally to celebrate the child's reunion with his father.

The grandmothers said they had spoken to Elian after he had met his father and little brother.

A BBC correspondent in Cuba says the authorities are portaying Elian's return to his father as a great victory over Cuban Americans in Havana.

Dawn raid

A swat team of about 25 officers broke down the door of the home of the boy's uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, shortly after 0500 local time (0900 GMT) on Saturday and re-emerged seconds later with the crying boy wrapped in a blanket.


The official account
Eight agents involved
Operation lasts three minutes
Female agent comforts Elian in Spanish
Elian taken to Watts Island and then on to Homestead Air Base by helicopter
Examined by doctor at Homestead
Elian then put on a US Marshall's plane to Washington DC
They drove Elian away in an unmarked car, as the stunned crowd outside the house shouted protests.

The whole operation was over in three minutes.

Donato Dalrymple, one of the fishermen who rescued Elian last year, was in the home at the time of the snatch.

Woken by Elian's cries, he scooped up the scared child and tried to hide in a closet.

Mr Dalrymple said federal agents pointed guns at the family and shouted: "Give me the boy or I'll shoot you!"

Clinton support

In a brief statement, President Bill Clinton said that he supported Attorney-General Janet Reno's decision to order the raid.

"The law was upheld and that was the right thing to do," he said.


cousin
Elian's cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez (left) weeps
Ms Reno said that Elian would remain in the US in accordance with the appeal court injunction against the boy being taken to Cuba.

"We have been to great lengths to resolve this in the least disruptive way possible. Up until the last moment we tried every way we could to encourage Lazaro Gonzalez to voluntarily hand over the child.

"Unfortunately the Miami relatives rejected our efforts, leaving us no option but the enforcement action," Ms Reno said.

Ms Reno said that despite pictures of an armed officer next to a distraught Elian, the automatic rifle had not been pointed at the boy and the officer's finger was not on the trigger.

She said her department had been informed that there might be guns in the house and in the crowd outside.

The move to seize Elian came after the failure of late-night negotiations on a compromise solution that might have allowed joint custody between Elian's Miami family and his father.

Our correspondent reports that community leaders believe the operation will have caused Elian everlasting emotional damage.

In Cuba, a government statement urged people to "maintain calm and avoid public displays".

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See also:

22 Apr 00 | Americas
Anger and grief in Miami
22 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Elian seized
22 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Miami protests
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Cuba welcomes Elian raid
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Analysis: Elian divides America
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Janet Reno's statement
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Reno's role in Elian saga
12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
23 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian sparks heated emails
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