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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Elian: Press assess winners and losers
Elian arrives in Havana
Castro ordered that the welcome reception be low-key
Leading US newspapers concentrated on the winners and losers after seven months of conflict and court battles in the Elian Gonzalez case.

The Washington Post and New York Times applaud the fact that the rule of law was upheld, arguing that the US Supreme Court's rejection of an emergency request to keep the six-year-old in the country was the proper legal conclusion to a bitter family dispute.

Perhaps most harmful to the anti-Castro cause is that many Americans became more aware of America's outdated policy of isolation toward Cuba

New York Times
The Washington Post underlines the tough decision faced by the Clinton administration in returning the boy to a repressive society in economic decay.

But, the paper says, it was in accord with immigration law and the common-sense notion that a parent should not be separated from his child for political reasons.

Elian's Miami relatives are heavily criticised for the "emotionally exploitative way" in which they fought to keep the boy, in defiance of federal legal authority.

Shift in policy

The NY Times says the negative image they created for the Cuban-American community in Miami helped weaken and isolate Fidel Castro's chief opponents in the US.

The paper says the anti-Castro lobby, in turn, damaged its message by using Elian as a political prop, undoubtedly helping to hasten a shift in national policy towards Cuba.

Winner: Castro scores powerful propaganda victory

The Miami Herald agrees, saying the anti-exile wave boosted the anti-embargo lobby, as many Americans have come to see the Cuban community as ungrateful immigrants defying US laws with their protests.

On Tuesday, the anti-embargo lobby won a major victory with a congressional agreement to ease restrictions on food and medical sales to Cuba.

Communist campaign

Castro himself is seen by all three papers to have scored a powerful propaganda victory.

The Miami Herald says the Cuban leader used the affair to whip up nationalistic fervour at home at a time when the country's economic situation was dire.

Elian's Miami relatives
Losers: The family are seen as ungrateful immigrants challenging the law
It also says dissidents are worried he may launch a campaign to resuscitate Cuba's ideological spirits, flagging since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989.

But despite riding high, Castro ruled that only a low-key reception greet Elian's return.

"We await with tranquillity the triumph of justice and the end of the kidnapping," said a headline in Wednesday's Granma, the official daily of Cuba's Communist Party.

Castro, it appears, was anxious to avoid a repeat of what he described as a "circus" that surrounded the boy's stay in the US.

Appearing on Cuban TV shortly before Elian's arrival back in Havana, the Cuban president resisted the urge to cock a snook at the US Government saying Havana would not humiliate Washington.

"Our people and our revolution always behave ethically, never as the mafia and petty politicians do," he said.

"We always said that the boy was first and that we would never use him as a political instrument or turn his arrival to Cuba into a reason to stage large demonstrations and parties, singing victory and humiliating the historic enemy the United States."

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Americas
Joy and anger over Elian
28 Jun 00 | Americas
Analysis: Castro's victory?
27 Apr 00 | Americas
What's life really like in Cuba?
23 Jun 00 | Americas
Elian asylum appeal fails
18 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian's relatives at war
28 Jun 00 | Americas
How the saga unfolded
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