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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 17:35 GMT
Should the Cuban boy go back?




It is absurd that even though the boy has one living parent, the court should decide he is better off living with his distant relatives. Disneyland and McDonalds is no substitute for a parent!
Srinivasan P., USA/India

I think he should stay with his relatives! But he should not live without his father. Bring his father to him!!

Mikko Mäkelä, Finland

Where do you think the child belongs?

HAVE YOUR SAY

What do you expect from the US. Their legal system is a joke, and always will be, just look at the number of ridiculous law suits, and what claim does this great uncle have, nothing compared to the father
Rod McEwen, UK

Please do not make the child a pawn for political end. This has got more publicity than the horrendous hijacking of the Indian Airline plane. Yes, send the child back to the rightful guardian.
Dr H Bhogal, UK

Bill Clinton has let this hideous farce run on to protect putative votes for his heir apparent. And all at the expense of the boy's sanity. It's straight out of Dostoevsky!
T.J. Cassidy, USA

It is disgusting that a small child is being used as a political pawn. He should go home to his father where he won't be used to advertise Disney and McDonalds. If the US wants to help him they should end their illegal trade embargo.
Peter Robinson, England UK

I think the Cuban child should be returned to his father. Our government via our immigration department has made an agreement with Cuba to return those who try to sneak into our country period.
ML Bjornaas, USA

The boy needs to be with his father. Cuba may not be paradise, but it does have free, quality education and healthcare, something even the USA does not have. Material possessions can never take the place of a loving father.
Pablo, USA

Is US prepared to go round the world to bring all the orphans and really deprived people and care for them in their so called materialistic, dry, self-centred and decayed land
J Appiah, Ghana

I think the boy should go back to his father. It is a travesty of justice that the US constitution is being manipulated to accommodate the wishes of a vocal minority. If a US child landed on Cuban shores and was prevented from leaving, the US would use any means possible to return the child to its parent(s), as they should. So why is it any different now?
Marlo, USA

Why do so many people risk their lives do leave Cuba? They do it for a chance at the greatest gift of all freedom. A gift so many of us in free societies takes for granted. What would happen if everyone was allowed to leave Cuba tomorrow? The last person could turn off the lights on his way to the boat. There is only one choice here and its not about politics or elections it's about doing the right thing. The boy should stay in the US and take the gift his mother died to let him have - his freedom
Trina, USA

The six year old child shouldn't be a cause for political manoeuvring and game. He deserves to spend his childhood like a healthy kid with his own father, in Cuba. If the US is concerned about the Cuban people, let us lift the embargo.
Eskinder, USA

Well if my daughter ran away to France, I'd damn well want them to return her, regardless of there being a few sanctions and no love lost from there to here.
Simon Redding, UK

Home is the best! Elian should be returned to Cuba. If Americans are really concerned they should lift all embargoes/sanctions so that the life in Cuba becomes normal. Otherwise some other unlucky 'Elians' will be drained in the ocean.
Fortius Rutabingwa, Tanzania

As a retired lawyer this, under American law, is a no brainer. Immigration law is a federal power so a Florida State court ruling has no force of law. Secondly, family law in any US state would give the father custody unless there was concrete evidence of child abuse or serious neglect. A black Haitian child would have already been sent back under US law! This is a political case fuelled by right wing Cuban-Americans.
LTC(Ret) Greg Taylor, USA

Judging from most of the opinions presented on this forum, I pray none of the respondents are called to make a determination affecting another's future. Does the phrase "informed decision" ring a bell?
S.R. Clarke, USA

This is actually very straightforward. His legal parent (his mother) died trying to get him out of Cuba. What does that tell you about her wishes? Why are other relatives living in the USA? Like it or not, there are more issues than simply that of blood ties. If his father now wants him back, he should travel to the USA and prove it.
David, UK

There are to inevitable sides of the coin. But my concern here is the emotional and psychological damage of the boy. The boy is far too young to decide on this matter. He was born in Cuba. Like it or not. He has a father and living in Cuba. Like it or not. But making this matter going no-where by making it an international issue might affect profoundly Elian. Unfortunately, things went bad for his mother who died at sea. He survived. He needs a stable home and that decision is not on our hands, but on his family and the law.
Quimets Sugranyes, Puerto Rico

Elian needs his dad! We need to remember he is not the poster child of the exiled Cuban population. He is a Cuban citizen with a loving father and grandmother waiting to give him a big hug. Please stop manipulating this boy for varied agendas and send him back HOME...
Laurie, Texas, USA

Elian should be with his father, natural and US law would seem to confirm this. I think the US authorities know this but are afraid of upsetting a powerful interest group, the Cuban-Americans. Saying that the boy himself should choose is ridiculous, he's only six, confused and no doubt being spoiled rotten by his relatives anxious to convince him to stay. This case does the US no credit at all, don't let a small bunch of right-wing fanatics tarnish your international reputation.
Richard Fallon, England

It's a simple custody case. The boy should be with his father, not great uncles etc. Yet again it shows the failure of the US legal system, judges and lawyers more interested in making money, political points and personal fame than seeking justice. If it was the other way around, a child being kept illegally from his biological parent by distant relatives in another country would you Yanks have any problem making this decision?
Mark Davies, UK, living in US

There is only one choice for the little guy and that is for him to be with his dad. No court anywhere has the right not to allow him to be with his dad. His mother was probably escaping Cuba without the knowledge of his dad. Send him home.
David Ready, The Netherlands

Both Castro and the Cuban community in Florida have probably ruined the child's chances of coming to terms with his mother's death and a sensible decision being made about what is in his best interests. Both sides should back down and allow cooler heads to prevail.
If Elian's father cannot come to the US, he should give evidence over video link to the US custody court. But there is a laid out process for dealing with both custody and illegal immigrants in the US. These procedures should not be circumvented for political ends, one way or another.
John Borda, UK (Gibraltarian)



Has America taken the responsibility of each and every Cuban child? If not, then why such a special treatment to Elian.
Vikki, USA/India
Well really it seems that election fever has gripped USA. An issue has been made out of mole hill. No substance yet it has become the talk of the country with so much international media attention too.
Why spoil the precious years of that boy in wrangles? Has America taken the responsibility of each and every Cuban child? If not, then why such a special treatment to Elian. If yes, then why are those bans still in place. More than Fidel they are affecting Elian-like innocent and guileless children. Stop double-standards and dirty politics. America....Act sensefully.
Vikki, USA/India

I have a terribly unoriginal idea, but the only one that could get us all out of this farce. Let's have the boy's father arrive at the airport in Miami, freely roam about the town with his son, and see if by choice the dad and little lad return to Cuba or stay in the States....Now THAT is a free choice no one can much argue with, not even Castro!
Jeff Medlock, US

I think the Americans are the most stupid people in the world. Why don't they just deport him back to Cuba. How come they make a such big issue of it
Krille, Sweden



The boy belongs with his father!!! Maybe his life would be better in the US, but we have no right to keep him from his dad.
Gretchen Brown, USA
The boy belongs with his father!!! Maybe his life would be better in the US, but we have no right to keep him from his dad. If we let him stay then we should let everyone come here so everyone can have the opportunities of life in the US. This whole debate is crazy-send him home.
Gretchen Brown, USA

The young boy should make the decision. If he wants to go back, why not? If not, let him make the real decision when he is 16 or 18 or whetever is considered the legal age in Florida.
Bill Squire, The Netherlands

The mother had custody of the boy and she was taking him to a place she wanted him to live, so let him.
Friend, USA

The USA is sick. They pronounce high moral judgement on sovereign countries and individuals, when in their own doorstep their children are killing each other at school, and their politicians are scoring points using a 6 year old. No wonder his father wants him back in Cuba.
John Jeffers, USA

The Boy Should go back period. Unless someone can demonstrate that the boy would be endanger, he should go back. To do otherwise would have the US violate its own, and international laws.
Cuba may not be the best place in the world, but it hardly justifies taking the boy from not only his closest relative the father, but the next ones in line his grandparents. Due to that attention the boy will have a materially good life in the US or Cuba so that is not an issue.
Since the US has close relations with countries far worst on human rights abuses than Cuba, this is no justification. If the US will trade with Saudi Arabia, Cuba should be a favoured nation.
Robert Posey, USA - Texas



The future of the child is more important than the issue of who he lives with.
Kedar Vaidya, India
The future of the child is more important than the issue of who he lives with. I think in terms of his future life, he should stay where he is right now.
Kedar Vaidya, India

The boy should be with his father. I can not understand what's the great fuss about this. It is not the question about finance / political affiliations but it is about morals. Having said 'Moral', I can not imagine arrogant 'Americans' giving up the Kid.
As we see that they are increasingly playing GOD these days. They think that with Money & Power can everything in this world can be bought over - History will prove them wrong soon (or later). Let's pray that the boy joins his father soon.
Balaji P, India

Send Elian Gonzalez home to his father, four grandparents, and homeland. The US should stop using Elian as a political pawn. The world/UN should demand that the US Government send Elian home immediately. I believe that family values are of supreme importance and should take precedence over all political agendas.
Jules Dervaes, California, USA

The boy belongs with his next of kin - his father. Keeping him in the US is really a form of emotional abuse on this boy. Let him go home!
Alister McClure, UK

As a 24-year-old looking forward to being a father some day, I can empathise with those that feel that Elian should go back to his father. But Bill Clinton does not have the political guts to have INS publicly drag Elian from Miami to send him back to Cuba. The thing I find so ironic about this whole situation is that things have flip-flopped. Now all of a sudden the Democrats are talking about father's rights and the Republicans want to keep an illegal immigrant in the US. Things can be so ironic sometimes
Ron Rova, USA

Once AGAIN, the faux-"family values"-types insist THEY know what's "best".......for someone ELSE'S family!! Are you Brits SURE you wouldn't like to have the Puritans back, there?????????
Dan Bozyk, USA



The best solution is possible if Elian's father can appear in court in the US and participate in the lawful decision making.
GA Oats, MD, USA
The truth of the matter at this very moment is that Elian is in the civilised free world. His fate therefore has been irreversibly altered. Human intervention as to deciding what is best for him will now be weighed not only in the light of traditional values and customs, but also with the considerations for Elian's mental and physical well-being as well as other pragmatic matters pertaining to his future and basic rights as a person.
The best solution is possible if Elian's father can appear in court in the US and participate in the lawful decision making. That Elian's father could not even freely make a choice over his own movement and effectively engage in this matter should concern everyone who desires to have any far sight into the boy's future.
GA Oats, MD, USA

Can Mexican children cross the border and receive such a welcome by the gringos as Elian has?
George, Trinidad & Tobago

One wonders what are his Fathers true feelings. I believe he should be with his Father, but would his Father rather have him stay in a FREE Country or go back to Cuba? If only we could have an honest answer from his Father.
C. Martin, USA

Of course we should send him back. Using this child as a political football is absurd. And, in response to Winnie, who wonders about what freedom means to us anymore: Does rule of law mean nothing to you? Every immigration law we have, every international rule we recognise says the boy belongs with his father. But, no! We're Americans! We can suspend every rule or law that we don't like... And we try to tell the world to obey the rule of law. This is ridiculous.
Rich Webster, US

What does the boy himself want? Surely that takes precedence over all other factors!
Martina Dal Monte, UK

I think it is better for both of them, the boy and his father to live in USA. I advise his father to travel to USA now if possible.
Waheed El Daly, Egypt

I don't understand the Americans. If it were a 30 year old Cuban he would have been deported although he too would have had a better future in the US(perhaps). On what grounds do they justify keeping the 6 year old with them? The Americans complain about illegal immigrants and then fight court battles to get the custody of a 6 year old. Should all the Cubans who want to ensure a better future for their toddlers and have relatives in the US send them in boats there and let the Americans take care of the rest?
Matthew Parker, UK

The polls indicate that most Americans are in favor of returning the boy to his father. If the US government gives in to the demands of the "Cuban-Americans" we will see another instance of ethnic interests affecting US foreign policy. This "ethnic" influence on international policy is a great danger to the United States and could, in the long run, turn us on the ethnics. We are a nation of law, not a nation of ethnic demands.
Louie, USA

Conservative Americans are still fighting the cold war against Communism, even though they have no idea what Communism is. Elian belongs with his father in Cuba, where he will receive an excellent education (Cuba has a higher literacy rate than the US) and excellent health care (lower infant mortality than the US). I am not a fan of Fidel, but the truth is out there.
Robert Nichini, USA/Puerto Rico

Every child needs a parent in their lives and this child has a father alive. Why not give him back to his father - after all the father is the one who decided to bring him into this world, and if the americans think that this child was not living well in Cuba, why does he look so healthy? He is such a beautiful child. It is so funny how people can take an interest in helping other outsiders yet in their own homes they are not able to help those around them.
Munenura R, Zimbabwe



To suggest that Elian would be better off in Cuba is simply absurd. Does freedom mean nothing to us any more?
Winnie, US
The boy's welfare should be our only concern. If we would not send him back to North Korea or Iraq, why then Cuba? Anyone defending this brutal dictatorship knows little of its past. Or its present. To suggest that Elian would be better off in Cuba is simply absurd. What if it were North Korea? Iraq? Does freedom mean nothing to us any more?
Winnie, US

Imagine if the child and his father were not Cuban but Chinese or Nigerian. Both countries are run by regimes more brutal and as poverty stricken as Cuba. Yet would there be any fuss in the US - No, the child would be shipped back to his natural father without anyone in the US batting an eyelid. No Senator or Congressman would give a damn. Yet because he is Cuban the poor child is being paraded and used by the exiles and politicians for their own personal gain. What happened to parental rights - or do the rules not apply in the US ?
Nick, Malaysia



His father's love surpasses Chevrolet, Hot Dogs and Apple pie!
Manuel E. Carreras, Puerto Rico
The boy belongs to his father in the absence of his mother.His father's love surpasses Chevrolet, Hot Dogs and Apple pie !!!
Manuel E. Carreras, Puerto Rico

After Kosovo, why not Elian? It is easy to destroy the 'feeling of Law' and much more difficult to (re)establish it. I am afraid of boomerang effects.
Kritidis, Greece

Why won't Elian's father go to the US to pick up his son (who would turn down a free round-trip flight to Miami and back)? Because it's Castro that won't let him. Why won't he let him? Because he's afraid of the possiblity that the father will want to stay in the US and raise Elian there instead (the best of both worlds).
Brian Waller, USA

The USA does not have any right to keep that innoncent child hotage for whatever reason. If the father of Elian says he wants his child back then no one has the right to deny him that right. Cuba has ample space and opportunities to look after her people. Many of us have been in Cuba for more than ten years and know what the government of Cuba has done for its people under difficult circumstances of the brutal blokade of the USA. Let the go back home to Cuba!
S. T. Quita , Namibia

This whole affair shows just how racist the situation in America has become. If this boy had been a little black Hatian, he would have never had been given the special treatment that the Cuban community have been able to muscle out of American politicans, and would have been sent back to Haiti in the sama rags he left his country in. Send this political puppet back home to his father, or let all the boat people live in America.
Kio Amachree, Nigeria

In a classic kidnap scenario, American devils pluck a half-dead boy out of the water and give him a life. How dare we! At 7 years old his milk is cut off and at 10 he'll be cutting cane in his spare time. Some childhood. The welfare of the child is more important than his manipulated father. Let him stay. If the embargo was lifted tomorrow the suffering and deprivations would remain. Charles Landry, U.S.A.

The boy is just a boy - not a politician. Of course he should go back to his father in Cuba. The ex-cubans in Florida must find other ways to express their hatred for Fidel - not use a little boy.
Christer Munter, Sweden

Everywhere in the world one starts to object against violence on children. Is this not typicaly violence against a six year old boy? Using him, or better abusing him for a political goal, shame for the grown-ups. It is amazing that these child abusers are hailed in southern Florida and in the U.S.
pierre c., Belgium

The political dogmas of two groups are riding on the back of a 6-year old! If it weren't for the politics, he'd have been back with his father long ago. Shame on the Cuban expatriates for allowing their selfish aims to affect an innocent kid.
Robert Pliskin, USA

Who are we to judge? If I was separated from my child and was denied custody by a foreign power the reaction would be; "This is wrong." To have this child be a pawn saddens me. The boy needs to go back to his father.
Shelley Booth, USA

This argument, and the attitude of Republicans in the US, is another example of the fat, wealthy and well armed bully at work. Cuban exiles in the US are voicing what they think is American patriotism, yet they no longer have to suffer the consequences of the economic blockade.
Maurice Green, England

I do not believe in the separation of immediate family members. If his father did not care for his son, he would not bother to go through such troubles to get his son back safely. Yes, America might offer a better opportunity for the child, but is the American relative ready to be parent to the child? We should all try to remember what is important in this situation-the best for the child!
Ama Love, Nigeria

Most of these well-intentioned comments miss the point. The US has laws, and these laws should, and (sometimes) do govern what the government MUST do. Child custody law is surprisingly simple and clear cut. The boy has one parent living. That parent has done nothing to disqualify himself as a parent. Therefore he gets custody of the child. People who think a six-year-old should decide his own fate are ridiculous. We don't let six year olds make other life-governing decisions. Their parents are responsible for them. Everything else is political posturing.
Alan, USA

The boy's mother died trying to get them to the United States so that they would have a chance for a better life and education. I feel that is mother's wishes should over rule the political garbage. He has family that will provide for him here. It should also be taken into mind the wishes of the boy.
Martha Taylor, United States of America

So many American children are living in poverty and here we are focusing all our attention on a Cuban child. Enough is enough, send the kid back to Cuba. I'll even pay for his ticket just get him out of here, so that the American people can focus on the real problems in America,
Bill, USA

As a child I understand how much a child needs his/her parents, particularly when his/her mother died like the case of the Cuban boy. The boy should be returned to his father immediately. His relatives have no right to interfere in the matter.
Quynh Trang, Vietnam

Elian's parents had joint custody, therefore he should be returned to his father, since he legally still has custody of Elian. The only reason that the Cuban-American community wishes for him to stay is to spite Mr. Castro - it has nothing to do with 'a better life'. To any of those who think that they should ask Elian, remember that he is only six years old and very impressionable - of course he is going to say he wants to stay in the US if his 'loving' relatives in the US tell him to say so. Who is more important here - the father or the much more distant relatives in Miami? Anything less would be akin to kidnapping by the United States, and should be taken to the UN High commision on Human rights. If it were not a Cuban boy, he would have long since been returned to his father, but unfortunately the Media and the Cuban American Community want to make it a political issue, which it certainly is not. Let Elian go home!
Luke Richardson, Calgary, AB, Canada

Elian should be with his father. A nice gesture would be to give Elian a chance to emmigrate to the US when he's an adult. By then Elian will be able to write a book about his experience and make millions.
James Khan, Los Angeles, USA

The Cuban Americans and anti-Castro supporters insists that Elian will have a better upbringing and education in the US. Generally speaking that may be true. However, this is no ordinary case. If Elian goes back, the Cuban Government will make sure they provide him and his family with the best possible conditions for the sake of publicity. He should go back with his natural father (as opposed to staying with elderly relatives) until he grows up to decide where he wants to live. By then, both the communist regime and the US embargo will be gone! Perhaps we should direct our concerns towards the other kids on the island.
Ludmilla, London, UK



The Cuban immigrants are already a privileged group but they should stop behaving like spoilt brats.
S.Gobinathan, USA
The Cuban exiles in Miami are blocking up traffic and causing havoc in an already clogged up Miami. This is nothing short of an attempt to blackmail the government. Besides, they are earning very few friends among the residents of South Florida by their actions. The Cuban immigrants are already a privileged group, and rightly so. But they should stop behaving like spoilt brats and stop abusing the freedom that they now enjoy.
S.Gobinathan, USA

Many people in the US and abroad do not understand that in the US child custody is a STATE matter - not FEDERAL. The INS should butt out. The Attorney-General of Florida should seek an injunction to that effect. The matter should then be turned over to the Florida Family Court as in any other child custody matter; the judge will then decide on the basis of the child's best interest. That being said, I cannot see how the child's 'best interest' would be served by making him grow up under a Communist dictatorship.
Bruce Alan Wilson, USA

Why don't children's behaviour specialists intervene? If this poor kid was with his late mother on the way to the USA, why has nobody asked: "Did his parents separate, did his father live with another woman?" Of course his father wants him back since Castro wants this (as a former inhabitant of the USSR I know how 'free' people are in totalitarian countries) but if the boy confirms that his father lived with his mother and him, then he must be sent home.
Ilya Girin, USA

Can the members of the Cuban community in Miami truly be so blind that they cannot realise the extent to which they have become the mirror image of the man they most despise, Fidel Castro? We are not a country dedicated to a tunnel-visioned hatred of Castro. We are a nation dedicated to the rule of law as the foundation of civilisation. The Cuban-American community's selfish exploitation of Elian is shameful and amounts to child abuse. Elian should not only be returned to his father. He should be removed immediately from the custody of the people who obviously do not care for him as an individual, but only as a poster child for their narrow-minded and venomous anti-Castro fanaticism.
Bob Clarksdale, US

Think about a six year old seeing his boat sink, everybody drown - including his mother - and then spending two days alone in the sea in an inner tube wondering when he would also drown, be eaten by a shark, or fall prey to whatever else must have been going through his mind. The only person who can help him come to terms with this is maybe (and only maybe) his father and grandparents. Certainly not distant relatives who think a trip to Disney and MacDonald´s will solve all. As I understand it, the American authorities never had any doubt that his father had rock solid custody rights, therefore they are entirely blameless in this. Shame on the mother for taking a kid on such a reckless trip. Shame on the Cuban American community for the gleeful way in which they used a traumatised child for propaganda, and shame on Castro for playing the same game.
Graham Bell, Brazil

USA Immigration law allows people fleeing communist regimes sanctuary in this country, regardless of their age. Elian's mother wanted to flee a regime which, in her opinion, was stifling to not only her, but to her son. She wanted her son to grow up a well educated man, one having clean water, good food, and a stable home. Can we honestly send a little boy back to a country which has had people killed for insurgency? Can we rip the dream Elian's mother had for him away? Let Elian stay!
Brandi, USA

Elian has to go back to Cuba with his father. One day he will decide by himself which his the best country for him. Anyway, he is the victim of what the American 'relatives' have done to him. They are disrespectful of any concern for infant psychology.
Cecilia, Italy

This is a game the USA and Cuba are playing. Both countries are using the boy for an international row.
Evelien, Ireland/Netherlands



Has anyone bothered asking Elian what he would like to do?
Bea Reynolds, UK
Has anyone bothered asking Elian what he would like to do? Has anyone asked if he loves his daddy so much he would give everything to be with him? Politics aside, the little boy's psychological welfare, his future and the person he grows up to be depends on this decision? In the UK would not endless assessments from doctors, specialists, social services, police, etc. be obtained. He might be only a little boy but he has the right to chose where he wants to be. Who are politicians to say what is the best for him?
Bea Reynolds, UK

Elian and his father did not choose to be born and raised in communist Cuba, they simply were. Does anyone have the right to separate them? Answer yes, and you obviously are not a father, or have been unfortunate enough to not appreciate the gift of such a relationship.
Ben, USA

Perhaps it is time to realise that the best way of helping all Cubans, and not just this little boy caught in the middle of a political debate, is to lift the embargo and assist the development of the Cuban people by the process of inclusion, not exclusion. Freedom and democracy will surely follow.
Mark Johnson, UK

How can anyone even think twice about this case? Political views aside, and they should be in a case like this, he belongs with his Father. There are many children in the world that would benefit from living in a first world country. But would they all be allowed to stay if they washed ashore?
Darren, U.S.A.

It is distressing that the statements for keeping Elian in the US so often come down to the argument that the US is "better" than Cuba. It is this arrogance (which also appears in relation to countries far less objectionable than Cuba) that cripples US foreign policy and breeds resentment throughout the world.
B.E. Lauderdale, USA

Elian's selfish relatives are using him as a pawn to rebel against the Castro's communist regime. It is appalling exile-Cubans have chosen to protest and disrupt Miami streets.
Ali Fawaz, Oregon, USA

The boy would have died if the border patrol didn't catch him in time. His mom wanted nice clothes and more money and a new American husband, and endangered the kid's life. Well, she paid for her greed with her life. There's no indication that the father is incompetent so he should go back to his dad. I have no sympathy for that woman, as she was crossing borders illegally and endangered the kid's life.
Sri, USA



Perhaps he would have a "better chance" in Cuba if the USA lifted its ridiculously inconsistent embargo.
Dave Parry, USA/UK
At least the INS expedited their decision making on this one. Six weeks must mark a record for dealing with an Immigration issue. I feel sorry for the boy, those who claim to have his interests at heart are playing a dangerous game of emotional blackmail with a six-year old. Perhaps he would have a "better chance" in Cuba if the USA lifted its ridiculously inconsistent embargo. They give "Most Favored Nation" trading status to other well-known, repressive Communist regimes.
Dave Parry, USA/UK

I think Elian should stay in the USA. Cuba offers him a life of restraint and regulation. The USA offers a better education and more opportunities. Who on Earth could argue that? Perhaps some ignorant person who does not know what life is like in Cuba, and who thinks it is easier to speculate about things they know nothing about.
Dan, USA

As a father I believe that Elian should be living with his dad in Cuba and not with an older relative in Miami. He did not choose to come to Miami. His mom brought him and now she is dead. Politics should not be involved in this family decision. I am for keeping families together.
Guillermo Barreto, USA

The Cuban community in Florida is, for the most part, pathological in its opposition to Castro's regime. They have seized on this unfortunate boy's plight to embarrass Castro. Their motivation is purely political. In the meantime, a motherless child is without his father. There is a Spanish word which aptly describes the shameful behaviour of Florida's Cubans - loco. Yes, of course he should go back.
Kirk Spence, USA

Elian must go back to his father. That's the law: both normal custody law and the current policy of repatriating Cubans detained at sea say so. Many Miami Cubans consider themselves above the law, apparently because they make large contributions to certain political parties. Their emotions and longing for the days of Batista are no justification for irrational foreign policy.
Dennis Rogers, Costa Rica

Under U.S. law, illegal Cuban immigrants that do not reach U.S. mainland soil, such as this child, are routinely sent back. To do anything else is playing politics.
J Caldeira, USA



Elian's quandry: Return to live with the prisoners in Cuba or languish with their jailers in the US?
Ansel J, Barbados
Elian's quandry: Return to live with the prisoners in Cuba or languish with their jailers in the US?
Ansel J, Barbados

What if the year is 1939 and the boy's mother was trying to take him from Nazi Germany? Would you still insist on shipping him back? We hear that the boy's father wants him to return. But how can we trust what he says. Cuba is a country where the father can get into jail for telling that he wants the boy stay in the U.S. Of course, he will say that he wants the boy to come back even if he had never taken care of his son before.
Gene M. Burd, USA

It's good to see that the Cold War is still alive and well and living in Florida (l would have though that like most residents of Florida it should have been pensioned off by now.) In any other case, an American court would rule that a child belongs with one of its natural parents, unless one of the natural parents is a monster or a lesbian. We may now add Communist to the list (if it weren't there already). Who knows, young Gonzalez might be willing to swap Nike and Nachos for full employment and a decent education?
M.C. Green, Japan

Both American and international law, as well as common sense and human respect, require that Elian Gonzalez be returned to his father in Cuba. Those protesting the INS decision would have us believe he is being consigned to some demonic fate. I think not.
Robert Brown, USA

With all its wealth, better opportunities and so on, the US has some of the world's unhappiest, freakiest children. Where else do children shoot and kill other kids in such large numbers? Which other country has 14-year-olds on death row? Material wealth does not necessarily mean emotional and spiritual wealth. It's a paternalistic myth to think that all children who are not materially wealthy are unhappy and have no future. Elian should be saved from a society that preys on its own young like no other in history has ever done.
Kemi, Nigeria

What a joke - a freak show in Miami. Of course the boy belongs with his father. If life in Cuba is hard, has it not been made more so by the cruel sanctions imposed by the US and fanatically supported by those hypocrites in Miami?
Eric, USA



I saw many of the "spontaneous" protests of people there and I can report that the protests were mostly guided by the government.
NP, Greece/Netherlands
I was on holiday in Cuba for the first three weeks of December, in the middle of the Elian fever. I saw many of the "spontaneous" protests of people there and I can report that the protests were mostly guided by the government. The few government-controlled newspapers were full of Elian news and arguments. But the local people I spoke to did not care at all where the child would end. In the biggest and most organised protest I experienced (in Camaguey) the teachers surrounded the school kids and guided them, cheering them up with "Freedom to Elian" chants. Most of the kids were enjoying themselves: a good chance to miss school for one day, the ice-cream man nearby and the atmosphere of a celebration. But I also saw some kids trying - some finally made it - to escape the moving river of people, in order to go to the park, or take a walk with their girlfriend or boyfriend or do one of the million things a kid can do in a free day.
Nadia Poulou, Greece/Netherlands

To communist Cuba? No!
But to his father? Yes!
Even if he lives in communist Cuba? Yes!
Martin Tyc, Canada

It didn't become a "political" issue until Castro opened his big mouth and started making demands. Up to that point, it was a simple custody issue. When/if Elian is returned to Cuba, Fidel will no doubt parade him around like some sort of prize, and milk him for all the anti-American propaganda it's worth. If Clinton bends over for Castro and lets this injustice take place, then Elian's mother will have died in vain.
Brian Waller, USA

I'm always amazed at the extent to which Americans are blinded by their governments' propaganda. This is a fathers' rights issue; not some medieval child robbery caper. The U.S. spouts democracy and proceeds to kidnap and brainwash their enemies' children. The noble eagle has turned into a vulture with a dollar bill in its beak.
Kerry Grace, Canada

Children belong to their parents. Elian should go home to his father for better or for worse. That's where he belongs. That is the rule of life and no rule on earth can change that.
Patricia, India

It would be absurd not to return the boy to the only parent he has left. A trip to Disney World can't make up for the potential loss of both parents.
Vanessa E., U.S.A.

His mother's attempts to find him a "better" life in the USA already put his life in danger and left his father as sole parent. There are no legal moral or ethical grounds on which he should not be returned to his closest relative in Cuba.
Mark Byrne, Saudi Arabia

The controversy only demonstrates how U.S. politicians will stoop to anything for a small political advantage.
Gordon Ramsey, USA

Can we raise an emotionally and intellectually healthy child in Cuba? Yes.
Jaime Henriquez, Panama

This Kid deserves the best in life and should be given the opportunity. If anything, his dad should be given a one way ticket out of Cuba, am sure he wants out too.
William Obodo, USA

The boy was very lucky to survive his ordeal but that does not mean that he should be allowed to stay. That would undermine the whole immigration process. Also, how can we allow all the 'American Cubans' campaigning on his behalf to bite the hand that feeds them by slagging off the immigration service. They should all be sent back on the next plane following him.
D Bowman, USA

I am a non-custodian father from a previous marriage. God forbid that one day some country makes a decision that I cannot see my son. There is no doubt in my mind that the little boy belongs with his father. And shame on those who were trying to make political mileage out of it.
Peter, Canada



The artificial boundaries that exist between the peoples and nations of the world are a reflection of the ongoing state of disunity on our little planet.
Simon Cameron, UK
The artificial boundaries that exist between the peoples and nations of the world are a reflection of the ongoing state of disunity on our little planet. National, political and racial enmities are a deadly concoction that segregates human beings unnaturally into antipathetic groups and factions. Elian's touching case struck a chord in us all. Never were the inherent deficiencies of state sovereignty and control more glaringly obvious. We need to abandon this fetish in the new millennium. Of course it is correct that Elian should return to his father, but why should this have to be such an issue? Let it not be too long when we can all live together in loving harmony as one human family!
Simon Cameron, UK

Legally, morally and ethically the boy belongs with his father. No matter how much bribery money is spent on the boy in Florida I'm sure he still misses his dad. At 6 years old kids love nothing more than hugging their parents, getting dirty, playing soccer, cowboys and indians or whatever. They don't need or want expensive toys. You can't buy his love. Send him back to where he belongs and I'm sure he wants to be and that's with his dad and grandparents.
Steve, UK

Let the child go home and live with his father. If possible America gives him a future chance to come over again if it is his will.
Fasika, Ethiopia

The boy belongs with his natural father,...it's that simple. If the case was reversed, the father in the USA and the boy in Cuba, the boy would returned to his natural parent. It's the law. On another note, why do aliens think they have any right to be an illegal immigrant in this country? I was on the beach when little boats arrived in Key West, full of people and everything else. They just left the boats on the beach and expected the USA to clean up after them,...I say go home.
Melanie, USA

Why don't we ask him what he wants? Leave that as the final answer.
M. Miele, USA

The child should stay in a free country. His mother died so that he could be free. To return him to Cuba is the modern day equivalent of returning an escaped slave boy to slave hunters in the 1850's or handing a boy, over the barb wire, back to his father in a 1940's Nazi concentration camp. The fact that we cannot free all of children of Cuba (or the rest of the world) does not mean that we have to hand them back one at a time. As the father of three children, I can say with near certainty that if Elian's father were free, he would move to Miami to be with his son.
Bill Hovell, USA

Many Latin-Americans say that the boy should stay in the US because there is opportunity. But they forget that most things in a dictatorship turn out well. And thing in Cuba is going to get better. If the boy has a good relationship with his father he should stay with him.
Miguel, Chile



Again, children have no rights. Has anyone asked the boy?
Curtis Turner, USA
Cuban refugees are automatically given asylum because it is good for anti-Communist propaganda. Just a week earlier, the Coast Guard intercepted a vessel with Haitian and Dominican immigrants and sent it back. Didn't they deserve a similar "bright" future. I am also amazed at the double-talk of some espousing family values in US. On one hand, family values are becoming an important election agenda but on the other hand, the same people are seeking to stop Elian from reuniting with his father. Enough of this circus. Unite Elian with his only surviving biological parent.
Ken Bhandary, USA

Again, children have no rights. Has anyone asked the boy? The father had already left the mother and boy, but now, thanks to encouragement from Raul & Fidel Castro he wants to reclaim him. The INS head stated she had "core beliefs" about the situation. "Core" is a famous buzzword from Bill and Hillary Clinton. If the father is allowed to come to the US to get the boy, Fidel is afraid neither one will return to that "communist Paradise" called Cuba.
Curtis Turner, USA

In every child custody case, decisions are expected to be made 'in the best interest of the child', irrespective of anything else. Children can be removed from their parents' homes and turned over to perfect strangers, if that's determined to be 'in their best interests'. I don't know why this case should be any different. Irrespective of the politics involved, it would seem far better that the child remains in a 'privileged' environment, rather than in one of reduced circumstances. The US-INS should require the father travel to the US to collect his son. Once there, they may both benefit from the normal sort of extended custody proceedings that most parents experience. One wonders how eager the father would be then to return to Cuba, with or without the boy.
L. Roth, USA



The boy should remain in the United States. After all, his own mother died trying to get him there
Artem, USA
The boy should remain in the United States. After all, his own mother died trying to get him there. The show of fatherly love displayed by his father looks more like a disgusting political farce staged by the Castro regime. Elian's father was indifferent to his fate and only claimed his parental rights after pressure exerted on him by the Cuban political apparatus. The boy will have more opportunities in the US than in Cuba. This was the future his mother intended for him and the attempt to go to the US was, in essence, her statement that must be respected.
Artem, USA

Elian should be left in the USA until he is of the legal age to decide for himself whether to stay in USA or go back to Cuba. Elian's mother has 'sacrificed' her life for the future of Elian and this supreme sacrifice should not be obliterated by bundling the poor boy to Cuba in response to Castro's ranting and propaganda.
Charles, Kuwait

While I agree that Elian Gonzalez would "economically" be better off in the United States, I think it is a shame that he is still there. He is not with grandparents, or any other close relatives. He is with great-grandaunts and great-grand uncles, second cousins, etc. He has a living parent, yet they try to woo him with Disney World and other material possessions. This disgusted me that this was allowed to transpire. This dispute should not be about Castro and the Cuban-Americans in Miami, but about a 5-year-old boy and his father.
T. V. Murray, Brussels

Each child belongs with their next of kin, in this case quite rightly the father. If the father was already in the USA, I am sure they would both have been invited to stay there.
Chris Clayton, UK

Yes. This boy should be united with his father. Unfortunately, in this process they hurt an innocent child. It's not only U.S. law and Cuban law but also International Law that gives parents the right of custody of their children. Shame on the Cuban-Americans in Miami who have showered this boy with presents is one of the most obscene attempts to buy him. It will not work; it should not work.
Luis Fernando Oneto, USA

This boy's father cared nothing about him until it became a political event. The right thing for the child is to give him freedom.
David, USA

It would be inhumane to force an All-American childhood on the kid- a future of eating chips, cookies and doughnuts and watching TV like a brainless zombie. Let the boy go home!!
Richard, United Kingdom



What would the outcry be if he was an American boy with an American father in the USA and he was in Cuba?
Owen Beer, England
The worst thing about the whole affair is that the boy is being used as a political pawn. Of course he should be returned to his father. What would the outcry be if he was an American boy with an American father in the USA and he was in Cuba?
Owen Beer, England

Elian has to be returned to his father. I read the statements of the republicans, they show much of hypocrisy, when they claim the right of this boy to stay, but say nothing when hundreds of Haitians are returned to their country. These people didn't have the same rights? If the boy were from any other nationality, they didn't even raise a finger. A father anywhere in the world has the right to stand close to his son.
Iber Gomez, Peru

The child should be with his legal guardian. The law and common sense show that this is his Father. A recent poll in our local Miami newspaper clearly showed the vast majority of the non-Cuban community agreed with this position. The only people who think a child, who is simply an illegal immigrant, should be allowed to stay are the Cuban community, and even then not all of us. There is a strong anti-Castro faction that claims the US has politicised this issue, when it is they who want to break immigration laws to meet their own political agendas. Unfortunately the ones who suffer in this case are a small innocent child, separated from his family, and the "old" Cuban community, who are proud to live in America and want to uphold it's laws and values. No illegal immigrant, no matter how cute, can be allowed to stay.
Rachelle Garcia, USA

Elian has just lost his mother, I think he needs his father more than ever.
Scott, England

Give the child a chance in life for his career. And also giving him a happier upbringing.
Karen Price, Scotland, UK

He belongs with his father. Who on earth could argue with that? Except perhaps some Miami Cubans who have modified the old slogan to read "Better Orphaned than Red"?
Nick G, UK

The individual's age does not make him any less of an illegal immigrant. There is no reason for him to stay in the US.
Stuart Ford, UK



He belongs where he will have choices and opportunities. In Cuba he would not be able to have a decent life.
Carmen Rawstron, Venezuela
He belongs to the country where he will have choices and opportunities. In Cuba he would not be able to have a decent life. It will be his choice not his father's choice.
Carmen Rawstron, Venezuela

Now for goodness sake, the media should stop making a big news out of this silly incident. As if death of millions of children from starvation did not happen? As if world has forgotten that 1000s of children are born with aids and have no future. As if world has forgotten that hundreds of thousands of children are working as soldiers, labourers. No Mickey Mouse for them. No birthday celebrations for them. They are fending for themselves. Cuban and American administrations have got just another excuse to use rhetoric. It is soap opera.
Bharat Bhushan, Germany/India

The child was snatched by his mother against international law; the law has seen fit to remedy that, now let the boy get better in peace and in Cuba. If the ex-pats want to do something for the boy why don't they lobby for the US to lift its sanctions on Cuba?
Gerry, Scotland

The US court gave the correct decision. Keeping the boy against his father's will would be tantamount to kidnapping.
Carl Backland, England

Why do we in the west always assume we are better that everyone else? Of course he should be with his farther. If, once he is older he wishes to leave Cuba he will be able to make his own mind up.
Jeff Eames, UK

In my opinion the vast majority of Americans realise that the boy should be reunited with his father. This sad issue has been played to the max by the scurrilous Cuban government and the various ex-pat anti-Castro zealot groups based in Florida. Neither can be said to have the best interests of the child or the United States at heart. One is a bad neighbour; the other a bad guest. The courts have logically ruled for the father. It's now time to end this farce.
Krow, USA

The lad should reside in the country where those who have legal custody for him live. As it has been demonstrated that this is Cuba, then so be it; anything else would be hypocritical.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

He should be shipped back to his real father and not allowed to stay. There are too many illegals slowing down the immigration system for those that immigrate the legal way.
A.J.Newell, U.S.A./U.K.

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See also:
06 Jan 00 |  Americas
Battle rages over Cuban boy
13 Dec 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Shipwrecked Cuban boy stirs mixed emotions
07 Dec 99 |  Americas
In pictures: Shipwreck boy sparks protests

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