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Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Elian: Was force necessary? II

Were federal officers right to snatch the Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, from his relatives in Miami?

They stormed the house where Elian had been staying, broke down the door, and then drove off with him. There were shouts and scuffles as a small crowd of demonstrators outside the house were pushed away and sprayed with gas.

Do you agree with the decision by the US authorities to use force to grab Elian? Or should they have tried to find a negotiated solution to the problem?

  • To read more of your comments on Elian's seizure click here.
  • For your latest emails on the controversy click here.

To read your comments on our previous Talking Point on where does Elian belong click here.

Thank you Mr. President and Ms. Reno for ending this disgraceful episode. One look at that sweet child's face in the AP photo says it all. This shameful event has at least served one good purpose. It has shown the thugs in Miami for what they are. Forty years of special privileges have given the United States a ghetto of old Batista gangsters.
John Chuckman, US

One has to remember this, you (Cuban expats) are exiles in the US. Obey their rules! This is not a US vs Cuba thing, but an Exiles versus Castro case! Hey leave the child out of it!
Glen, Bermuda

I'm astounded that all these folks believe that this administration stands for law and justice. The leader is (hopefully) about to be disbarred from practising law in his own state. He has lied under oath, been impeached, and made the United States a laughing stock to the rest of the world. HIS okay to Reno puts the icing on the cake.
Harry, USA

I congratulate the swift and safe return of Elian to his father. A father has a right to be with his son and to direct there lives in the best possible way. Call the Miami relatives 'family'? They are a disgrace.
Karim Zaoui, UK

The U.S. authorities have ruined the child emotionally; he will never ever get over such action; this will always haunt him.
A.Mandrides, UK

Yes, force was necessary - 3 minutes in and out and no one was hurt. The government treated it as they would any hostage situation. The Miami relatives have been flaunting that boy in front of the media for months. They had no intention of giving the boy back to his FATHER as the courts ordered. I question the families motives. I wonder how long they will wait before they write a book or sell the story for a made-for-TV movie of the week.
R. McManus, USA

Cuban Americans seem unwilling to accept that US policy may have had any role in their country's fate under Castro and they are similarly unwilling to accept that anyone may actually wish to live under that regime. I do not believe they would have surrendered the boy even at the end of the legal process, and thus believe yesterday's action was entirely right.
Barry Hennessy, Dublin, Ireland

What a HAPPY photo! Elian with his Dad.
Ray Heberer, Nepal

If the government is compelled to go to these extremes to enforce the law, that is not the government's fault: THAT lies fairly and squarely with the Cubans making political capital out of a tragic situation.
Howard Rogers, Australia

The relatives were obstinate and unwilling to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner. Justice has been served by allowing Elian to be with his father.
Tony Rampersaud, Canada



Justice has been served by allowing Elian to be with his father.

Tony Rampersaud
The Miami family brought that upon themselves. If that woman had simply given over the boy to his father, peacefully, it would not have come to this. But it did, and Elian is FINALLY back with his father. But you know the Right-wing, anti-government factions are going to seize upon this the same way the seized upon what happened at Waco, Texas with the Branch Davidians in 1993 - to make the government (or ANY government) look evil. As a last ditch effort, the government was trying to negotiate a peaceful transfer of the child through the night, but the Miami family didn't budge. They still wanted to retain joint custody of Elian, but they would not give the child up (and follow the law). Remember, the government gave these people THREE MONTHS to peacefully hand the kid over. So, after bending over backwards many times for these people, it came down to sending in eight machine-gun wielding INS agents, and that one woman whose speciality was dealing with unaccompanied children in the US. She was the one who actually physically picked up Elian and put him in the van. It's unfortunate that this had to happen, and I feel the most sympathy for the Elian himself who has been manipulated on all sides by adults. But this was both the law being enforced, and on moral grounds, a father getting his son back. Personally, if I were Juan Miguel Gonzales, I would have gone down to Florida and personally picked up that child.
Frank, United States - New York City

The USA government should never have gotten involved in this matter, but our hands were forced by the family and anti-Castro Cubans living in exile in Southern Florida. It appears to me that good faith negotiations with the family were in progress and that they were clearly stalling in an attempt to retain the boy. Therefore, it would appear that Attorney General Janet Reno and her people behaved in the most responsible and non-violent means available to them. Unfortunately, the boy has been used as a political pawn by the anti-Castro movement of the very large Cuban exile community in South Florida. The Cubans in Miami who used this child for political purposes ought to be deeply ashamed of their behaviour. They have likely compounded the post-traumatic stress of a child that tragically lost his mother and who has survived an horrific ordeal at sea.
Reverend James C. Lovette-Black, USA

I was deeply appalled by the disgraceful actions that the government of the United States undertook early this morning. Not only is this a betrayal of the legacy of Elian's mother, but the situation has become drenched with politics. President Clinton, whose legacy will be among the most shameful of any of his predecessors, is attempting to change the public opinion about himself. By reuniting Elian with his father, he is attempting to make himself seen as a family man - but I don't think that anyone sees him as such nor will see him as such. Having immigrated to the United States at the age of six myself, I have a good idea of how he feels.
Maks, USA

Absolutely, the Miami family was ordered by the justice department to turn the boy over and they refused. They were in violation of US law.
C James, USA

It's shameful that the Miami family held on to that child for as long as they did, manipulating the Federal government's fear of over reacting. No family that claims to love a young child would act as they've acted without an agenda of their own that has nothing to do with Elian's best interests.
Astrid, South Florida USA

Obscene. I am totally appalled that the US government is so immature and incapable of peace that is uses force to settle a domestic court battle - especially when the main victim all along has been the child himself. Brute force is for the stupid, insecure bully. They are pathetic to have to resort to such actions. What a future I have to look forward to, if this is how the, supposedly, most capable peace makers in the world work.
Steffan Aquarone, aged 15, United Kingdom

The boy belongs with his father as long as he is proved a decent person. The Miami Cubans were, in my opinion, using this as a political statement with no regard for the little boy himself.
S Clark, United States

I think what the American Government did was very uncalled for. This only showed that we do not respect the rights of other people in the United States. By taking him the way they did we are no better than a communist country. We invaded the home of U.S. citizens. If his dad wanted him so badly why did he wait to come four months later? A parent who loves their child would not want them to return to Cuba. I would hate to think that we are living in a country where freedom does not ring true for little Elian. I am so disappointed in my government and embarrassed by their actions.
Kim, United States

Anything ugly about this mess was unnecessary, and forced by the unreasonable relatives in Miami. They and all their neighbours politicised what should have never gone in that direction. Anything bad that happened, and anything bad that might have happened is entirely their fault. They were selfishly unreasonable.
Jack Bodega, USA

I agree that this scene is exactly what the Cuban Americans wanted to see. If they did not see that their actions were leading up to such a scene, then they were blind or stupid. The Justice Department did what the Cuban American Community made it do. The law was upheld as it should have been. To all those who say they should not have gone in by force: Do you think if they went peaceably and knocked on the door and asked for the child that it would have gone any better? It would have been more traumatic for Elian because it would have lasted longer and it would have greatly endangered the US Marshalls who were doing their duty.
Charles Sviokla, Washington DC

Most definitely they were right to take Elian. His relatives were acting above the law, calling all the shots and procrastinating time and time again. Elian and his father must be reunited and, seeing as though the relatives had failed to co-operate, there was no other alternative. The relatives talk about holding the boy hostage but that is exactly what they have been doing themselves. They are not above the law and it was timely that the law intervened at last. Hopefully this whole nasty incident can now come to a conclusion, not least for Elian who has been a pawn in the middle.
Yvonne, UAE



Hopefully this whole nasty incident can now come to a conclusion, not least for Elian who has been a pawn in the middle

Yvonne, UAE
Yes, the US Government was right in upholding the rule of law and acting as it did. Elian's family had ample opportunity to peacefully settle the matter. It is they who are now totally responsible for any trauma inflicted upon this poor child which may affect his future life. How very sad that egos get in the way of common sense.
George Klass, Canada

Absolutely right. The rule of law must be upheld against a mob seeking to keep a child from his father. However much we may dislike Castro, it is never right to ignore the law and the basic human rights of a family.
J David Morgan,

Yes, they had no other choice. If the relatives would have given him over it would have been less traumatic.
Jessica, USA,

The actions of the Miami relatives was deplorable and it's fairly obvious that the child was only going to be returned to his father through the use of force. Janet Reno has done many things wrong, but this is one time she got it right.
Rob Hecker, USA



Why has the USA acted in the same manner it did with Antonio Noriega against a small boy?

Wilcliff, Zambia
I am surprised that it took this long for the US authorities to enforce the rule of the law. Shame! The world police could not even police its own people. It says so much as to who rules the nation; the law by the people or few powerful lobbyists who manipulate the politicians.
Imam, Belgium

Why has the USA acted in the same manner it did with Antonio Noriega against a small boy? Elian has been turned into a criminal on the par of dictators that the USA so much dread. Where is compassion and love for the young?
Wilcliff, Zambia

The action of the US Government has to be welcomed even though it has come a bit too late. The whole episode is ridiculous and has made the US a laughing stock in the eyes of the general public. Cuba and its citizens are certainly much better off than the poor millions in the horn of Africa. If the Cuban exiles in Miami want to do something good, they can concentrate more on this wretched part of the world rather than play games with the life a young child who should be with his Father.
P Lakshminarasimhan UAE

The behaviour of Elian's relatives and the Cuban community in Miami was an absolute disgrace. They should hang their heads in shame for putting this little boy through such an ordeal.
Dan, UK

I agree with the decision to use force to reunite this little boy with his father. It is absolutely disgraceful that the Cuban immigrant population has used a 6 year old child to further a political agenda against Castro. Elian belongs with his father. By the way, does anyone know the names of the other two Cubans who were rescued that day? Or where they are? I don't think so.
Earl, USA

It is sheer incompetence on the part of the US Government that this ever developed into an international confrontation. I admire Miami Cubans 1000%, but clearly Elian ought to have been returned on the day it was determined that he had a living father. How Janet Reno manages to hang on to her job, particularly after the death of those oddballs in Waco, is something that will have to remain as mysterious to me as Falun Gong.
John, NYC, US

The American legal system has ruled that Elian must go back to Cuba. His relatives must therefore respect the ruling of the legal system to which they are subject. They didn't hand him over, despite being given numerous occasions to do so, so the only option was for the police to take him by force. However strong Elian's relatives believed their moral basis for keeping Elian was, the moral views of a minority cannot override a ruling of domestic, or indeed international law. To set the precedent of long negotiations in order to enforce a legal ruling would have given the green light to anyone within the jurisdiction to start ignoring court rulings on moral grounds, causing law enforcement chaos.
Tom , England

Let's hope that this somehow will be the end of the US embargo against Cuba which has benefited nobody. Too long the Cuban exiles have had their way, which is only a senseless policy of confrontation. Discussion and dialogue with these people have proven useless. Let's only now hope that the US politicians will do the right thing instead of appease the anti-Castro mafia in Miami, and will start a meaningful detente with Cuba, as Canada has done for years.
Tim Matthews, Amsterdam

Under US law, Elian had the right to apply for political asylum, which he did. The US legal system said he had to remain in the US pending the outcome of appeal. I don't think the Cuban interest section of the Swiss embassy counts as staying in the US. I also don't think the picture of the swat team guy holding a submachine gun at someone's head is my country, either.
Kurt Weinschenker, USA

The Federal Agents should be praised for releasing Elian without causing harm to anyone. Yes it was the right decision and the six year old has to be united with his father. It's unfortunate that Elian's Florida relatives were taking advantage of this little boy's innocence.
P Julian, Australia



After watching the scene in Miami this morning, I am ashamed to be an American.

David Mercer, USA
Anybody who has had an opportunity to have a child must appreciate what Elian's father has been going through. I strongly believe Elian's relatives have been using him to put forward their frustrations of not living in their own country. Most of such people normally leave their own countries at times as they run a way from the law and once in a foreign land they claim all sorts of things. I do appreciate the care the great uncle of Elian has been giving but this should not at the expense of the natural father's right to his own children. The Miami relatives wanted some form of popularity and I think they have got it but shamefully they underestimated the rule of law. I do not believe they need President Clinton to remind them that they need to hand over the poor child to his father. I feel it has taken the law a long time and am sure the boy has been already worked on against his own father and country at a very tender age. I pray that Elian be reunited to his father as soon as possible and be allowed to travel whenever his father would like.
Noreda, UK



Force was necessary. The US Government had exercised caution and acted in good faith with the Miami relatives to reunite Elian with his father in a peaceful way.

Glenda, USA
I definitely agree with the decision to use force to restore Elian to his father. Even in a developing country such as ours it is a basic premise that the interest of the child is paramount. It is indeed surprising that in a country such as the US, that people were allowed to use this little boy as a pawn in their own game against the Cuban regime.
Saliya Pieris, Sri Lanka

What a shameful and appalling action. Reno and Clinton have circumvented the due process of the law, and intervened with draconian levels of force. They have made a mockery of the sacrifice of Elian's mother. Ruby Ridge, Waco, and now Miami. These show Janet Reno's character. She's a disgrace, and she's doing Clinton's dirty work.
Steve Petrica, USA

Force was necessary. The US Government had exercised caution and acted in good faith with the Miami relatives to reunite Elian with his father in a peaceful way. Those Miami relatives should be ashamed that this went on as long as it did. They cared more for their political views and their hatred for Castro and turned this whole thing into a media circus. I hope that Elian will be able to get past this traumatic event and be happy with his father wherever he might live..
Glenda, USA

The Miami relatives were using force, albeit passively, to keep Elian in their custody. Whatever the merits of their case and their political desire to keep Elian and other Cubans in the USA, by keeping the boy a virtual hostage and setting conditions on meetings with the boy's own father they alone brought the situation to a near-crisis. They created the environment in which force became necessary. Kudos to the Justice Department for good tactical timing (clearly this move was not expected for some days) and for seizing the initiative without harming anyone. A sad case all around, but I mourn for Elian's lost mother most of all.
Vincent, USA

Absolutely! And about time, quite frankly; it was time to end this fiasco.
Mark M Newdick, USA/UK

After watching the scene in Miami this morning, I am ashamed to be an American.
David Mercer, USA

I fully support the long overdue use of force to rescue this boy from a household where he was clearly a political hostage. It's interesting that the comments so far at this site are consistently supportive of enforcing the law, except for the US contributors. Hey guys, America, love it or leave it. A great relief that the FBI got it right this time, praise to their restraint and skill.
Steve Walker, England

At last, the right thing has been done. But why so long? Funny how Washington sets itself up as the judge and jury of all other countries legal systems (but when it comes to it, the American legal system is as prone to political meddling and social interference as all others. Highly embarrassing for the Land of Liberty and Justice!
Pete Ward, England

Absolutely an excellent decision by US authorities. The Miami relatives wanted to joke with the whole world failing to realise that the rule of law should and must be respected by all means or face similar measures. Elian is not a criminal but this is the lightest action they could do to please the law and mankind. Congratulations to the US Government.
ST Saine, The Gambia

Good for the USA! These Miami Cubans have been breaking the law. Now, they are planning to retaliate against the government by civil disobedience. That must not be allowed to happen. There has to be law and order. They broke the law and they kidnapped Elian. At last he will be in the custody of his Father where he ought to be.
Dave Adams, USA



This was a horrendous action for the federal government to take

Shelley Dumoulin, USA
Sometimes it is necessary for the state to use force against the individual citizens for the greater good. This was such a case. Given the nature of US Law and its tedious round of appeals and retrials Elian would have been an adult by the time it was resolved. Let them return the child to his father forthwith then deport them back to Cuba so he can have some stability in his life.
Steve Foley, England

Yes! The case was clear cut. The father should have been given his son months ago! The family in Miami, have created the situation that led to this last resort action by the US authorities.
Malcolm Stone, Scotland

Having left my earlier remark about US contributors being the only ones opposed to international law, I see now there are some who do not take this position. Double praise to them for daring to see through the fog of pork-barrel politics that the Miami people hopes to use to subvert democratic law.
Steve Walker, England

Are there any fathers out there who believe their in-laws have the right to detain their children in another country, particularly using mob rule? Justice at last.
Canada



Who is going to be answerable to the emotional damage inflicted to this young boy?

Bertillon, Scotland
This was a horrendous action for the federal government to take. Yes, some means of getting Elian from his Miami relatives had to be taken. But I feel that forcibly removing Elian from this home at gunpoint in the predawn hours was a horrible way to do it. That poor child doesn't understand anything except that he was snatched from those who love him. I pray that he will not suffer lifelong damage from this action.
Shelley Dumoulin, USA

I felt that this had to be dealt with and the US Government had no other option however I feel the way they resolved this matter was purely brutal. They used just as much force as if they were dealing with terrorist, does such a tactic used to arrest terrorists become an optional course of action to get a 6 year old boy from "friendly" guardians who were no threat at all. This is something that will scare Elian for life.
Mark Rowberry, England

I have seen many comments about how it was necessary for the US Government to uphold the 'rule of law'. US courts decided that Elian must stay in the US until his case for asylum is heard, whether this is with his father or other guardian. He cannot be taken from the US until this decision is decided or appealed. If he is, this would be against the rule of law. Also, in 1996 Congress passed a rule of law that states that any Cuban person that sets foot on US soil will be granted automatic asylum in the courts. I thought some of the people so concerned about the rule of law may not know about that one. Granted, it may not be morally right to keep a child from his father, but it is the rule of law. I could go on and on about why I believe Elian should stay in the US, but if this goes to court, he will be granted asylum and assigned a guardian. The guardian may or may not be his father or the in-laws. The court will assign a guardian that is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. This is the rule of law.
Dennis Cook, USA

As far as I can see, only one non-US contributor to this talking point has spoken against the use of force. Does this perhaps say something about what the objective position on this matter is? Myself, I think that force was necessary, but that a 25-strong swat team with assault rifles was excessive.
Joel, UK

Whether it be in a quiet, poor village in Cuba, or in the buzzing, flashy city of Miami, a father's right to be with his son must come first. Juan Miguel has had opportunity to let his boy grow up in the USA in the past and will undoubtedly have it again. That is beside the point. Nobody should have the right to forcibly keep the child from the father.
Atul, UAE

It is very unfortunate that my government was forced to send in armed federal agents to retrieve this boy, but it was the only way. The Miami Cubans (most are not worthy of being called Americans) repeatedly refused to follow the law. The Miami family is completely responsible for this mess. They are shameful people. Now these same people are rioting and burning the American flag. The majority of Americans would just as soon put these exiles on a boat back to Cuba. We are fed up with this whole situation. The most important thing is the boy is safe and is with his father.
Dave, USA

Really, how many of us would sit still if a member of our family holds our child hostage? How many of us, would not be relieved if a right thinking government takes the necessary action to free our child from such kidnappers? The actions of Elian's relatives over the past months can be likened to the US hostages who were held in Iran. The relatives and Cuban exiles used another form of force to hold the child hostage. What it finally needed was a greater form of force to free him. Thank God, no one was hurt. It is time the US starts reviewing the asylum policy towards the Cubans.
Jonas Anson,

Force was necessary as negotiation failed, thus why we have forces which can be used in circumstances like that. It's the same like Gulf war where by UN used force despite it's role of maintaining peace in the world to force Saddam out of Kuwait, but this was possible after failure of peacefully means. Bravo FBI for that!
Henry Sufa , United Kingdom



Whether it be in a quiet, poor village in Cuba, or in the buzzing, flashy city of Miami, a father's right to be with his son must come first

Atul, UAE
The federal agents should have hauled off Elian's relatives instead, to a long and arduous prison sentence.
Michael Sethi, USA

I think the relatives made it so that force was the only possibility. The US Government has been unbelievably patient in trying to work this out. Sadly for the boy, this was the only option left.
John McConnell, USA

To hear comments from Elian's US relatives saying that the US federal government are keeping him as a "hostage" is hypocritical and ridiculous. Weren't they the ones who were using illegal means to prevent a small child from being reunited from his own father? I take my hat off to Janet Reno for making the right decision. Force and violence should never be condoned, but in this case there was simply no other option.
Winston, Singapore

Who is going to be answerable to the emotional damage inflicted to this young boy?
Bertillon, Scotland

It's about time that Elian was taken away from his Miami relatives. I also find it hard to believe that a six year old boy seeks political asylum on his own. Something is telling me that the relatives he never met, were calling all the shots. Elian should be with his father, no ifs or buts.
Susan Kanellakis, USA



I put full blame on the Cubans in Miami for placing their own political agenda ahead of the welfare of little Elian

Lewis, USA
It's about time that Elian was taken away from his Miami relatives. I also find it hard to believe that a six year old boy seeks political asylum on his own. Something is telling me that the relatives he never met, were calling all the shots. Elian should be with his father, no ifs or buts.
Susan Kanellakis, USA

Elian's relatives had opportunity after opportunity to comply with the law and respect the rights of the boy's father. The US Government had no choice but to use force. The Miami contingent are more guilty than anyone in whatever psychological damage has been done to the child. Instead of preparing him to be with his father again, they made sure the transfer was traumatic as possible. If you really love a child, you treat him like a person; you don't use him as a dramatic prop to further your political battles.
J, USA

Action was needed to uphold the law - as so many people have been pointing out, the Miami Cubans were breaking the law. What example is that? They leave Cuba for democracy and human rights and the rule of fair law but don't like them when they go against them? Do they want their own little bit of Cuban law in Miami? Although I don't agree with what's happening in Cuba, both the US and Cuba have an agreement, recognised in international law, to send back any Cuban refugees who are rescued/picked up at sea while those who make it to land are allowed to stay. Surely, under international law, regardless of whether or not he's a six year old boy, Elian should have been sent back to Cuba long ago. It is a disgrace that this should have been allowed to go on for so long but it has and well done to the US Authorities for finally doing something.
Shane Quinn, 17, Northern Ireland

I cannot recall any time that US police have been used in this manner, since the days of our Civil War. The statue of Liberty must be weeping. I'm glad Janet Reno was not in office when the last of my ancestors to arrive in America came to escape conscription in Germany. I might have been in Hitter's army.
Tom Bohlander, USA

I believe that a son belongs to his parents, to his father and mother because they are the best ones to provide love and education to their children. In the case of Elian, he belongs to his father, not his relatives. He will be happier in his life with his father. His father seems to be a good person. I liked his appeal to the people of this country. He was acting democratically by asking the people to write to the President of this country to let him be reunited with his son. The Attorney General, Janet Reno, and this country put up a lot with these Cuban Americans. It was time to use force. The operation was very successful. Not one dead! Not one drop of blood. Congratulations, Attorney General Janet Reno. You made very clear to the world that the law is above everything in this country. Congratulations, again!!
John Llerena, Ecuador

Very sad it had to be done this way but those stupid fools in Miami left no other option. I there is any damage don to Elian the Miami relatives are totally to blame.
Ray Dykes, USA

As far back as I have ever studied or heard discussed. there has never been a lasting dispute about parental rights. parents have always had the right to have their children provided there was no neglect or abuse and the ability to care for the child existed. The people and relatives in little Havana were wrong to try to do anything other than return him to his father, as negligence, abuse, or inability to care for Elian never seemed to be an issue. I agree strongly that the government did the right thing in the end. The process was agonisingly slow, perhaps too slow, but the inability of a democratic government to react immediately to a situation allows time to think. This allows the process of freedom to work. I get upset with the slowness of the government, but if they do what I feel is right 80% of the time they are doing well.
Sam, USA Vermont

COMMENTS: Seeing the emotions building each day in the US press it is a delight to see that eventually some one in the US Justice(Sic) Dept had the political nerve to do the right thing. One on the major faults of the US system is its ability to delay and defer while lawyers rack up fees. Well done the lads who were on the grounds. A difficult job well done.
Bill, Ex Pat living in US

The government was correct in taking the action they did. I put full blame on the Cubans in Miami for placing their own political agenda ahead of the welfare of little Elian.
Lewis, USA

Although I agree the boy needs to be with is father, the way he was taken from the home in Miami was disgraceful. That poor child was scared to death. The look on his face made me cry. I believe both the family and our government are to blame, they should be ashamed of their own stupidity and lack of real concern for the welfare of the boy. God Bless you Elian.
Kim Vargas, USA

The federal government acted appropriately. Elian's relatives had obstructed and dawdled too long.
Ed Margerum, Massachusetts, USA

Cuban immigrants came to this country afraid of Castro's rule and in a search of a place to live where the rule of law was followed. It is totally unacceptable that now they try to prevent, with protesters and threats of violent reaction, the law enforcement. Federal agents were absolutely right in being prepared to use the force if needed given the hostile environment faced. Fortunately, no one was hurt and Elian is on his way to whom he belongs by American and international law: his father.
Marcio Trigueiro, USA

As a Cuban-American, I am ashamed to be an American this morning. To those who support this act of aggression, I only have one thing to say. It can also happen to you whatever ethnicity, religion or racial background.
Alina Simon, United States

Send the Miami relatives to prison for committing act against humanity - separating father and son
Sanjai, USA

The question should be why was force needed. And the answer is that Elian's Miami relatives and Cubans exiles put emotionally based political venom above the well being of a little boy. Its disgraceful. Janet Reno did the right thing in a no-win situation. My heart goes out to Elian who has surely been brainwashed about Cuba and his Cuban relatives.
Adam Parker, USA

Yes, for improving diplomatic relationship ; It really beggars belief that Castro's strong man tactics can reach right into the internal judicial system of the USA. The Cuban press keeps referring to Elian's US family as 'kidnappers' but the pictures of Elian being snatched at dawn look more like the real kidnapping. Elian has filed a claim for asylum in the US. The total disregard shown for his rights as a person suggest that the authorities in the US are just as inclined as the Castro regime to treat children as non-persons.
Gloria d'lux, United Kingdom

Notwithstanding the love and care of Elian's relatives, it was with disbelief that they could afford to reduce a baby to a pawn on their political chessboard with 'their' country. What would any parent protestor feel if Cuba denied him/her to see his/her baby? The sobriety of the US state in upholding the primacy of the basics of a natural family must be commended. The resistance to the temptation of also using Elian to settle longstanding scores with Cuba is admirable. Any child's primary love is parental. Elian lost maternal love, why complete his orphanage by substituting his paternal love which is still physically present.
Asiimwe Godfrey, Uganda

This was a cold, calculated political move on the part of this administration that only dealt in terms of international relations and not necessarily to the best interests of the child. and there are still court hearing dealing with his right to seek asylum. Personally, I favour his reunification with his father, but I'm not convinced he would be better off in Cuba. and the family rift is terrible to say the least.
John W USA

I devoted over 20 years of my life to fighting totalitarianism. I will take liberty over law until my last breath. Imagine President Kennedy returning a boy to East Berlin after his mother was gunned down trying to escape to the West. This entire episode has been disgusting to anyone who treasures liberty. Storm trooper tactics have no place in the land of the free. This has brought shame to our country.
Jim Mau, MSgt USAF (Ret), USA

It was a deplorable action with all of the hallmarks of American violence used to "enforce" a legal decision. It was a sort of "Gulf War" in miniature. That said, it is clear the relatives of Elian had no intention to surrender the boy peacefully, a boy whom they had kidnapped, held hostage, and brainwashed. The son and father have the right to be together and should be together. The circumstances have been tragic and terrible for both of them. The relatives of Elian should be soundly smacked and then sent back to live in Cuba with their atrocious Miami-Cuban supporters.
Jonathan Sacks, USA

Janet Reno was absolutely correct to use force to get Elian back from his relatives, it was done swiftly accurately, if the government believed guns to be in the house then of course they had to be prepared to meet force with force. The family it seems to me left Reno with little choice, she had to act.
Doug Holland, USA

Regardless of the legal rights and wrongs I cannot believe that a civilised country such as the USA should feel the need to use storm trooper tactics to gain custody of a little boy. This predawn raid, apparently while the relatives were on the phone negotiating with the authorities about an orderly handover, smacks of deceit from Reno. The tactics of using heavily armed men to break into a small house, destroying and terrifying all in their path, reminds me of something far worse: Europe in the 1940's. Maybe the Miami relatives were in the wrong to seek custody of the child who's mother had clearly been divorced from the child's father and had custody in her own right (the father has since remarried). And on the face of it they were not complying with a court order, although that is under a fog considering the appeals process. But to send in armed men, point guns at a six-year-old boy, and call that civilised? Where exactly is the benefit to the child there?
Tony, UK



It's good to see, at last, that the Miami dissidents can no longer regard themselves exempt from the rule of law

Nick Sweeney, UK
My wife and I fought (legally!) for custody of our four minor children. We are both US citizens, and lived in New York state. It took 2 years for the courts to decide which of us were fit parents (I won!). The INS took 2 hours to decide in Elian's case. They have refused any other psychiatric opinion except their own. Has anyone done a DNA test to see if Juan Miguel is in fact Elian's father? Could this be why Elian's mother was listed as a single mother when he was born? I don't know about the legality of an administration whose chief executive breaks the law whenever he feels like it. I do know from history that the American Revolution had as part of its beginnings the British seizure of guns by force. Apparently the adage is true: those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Vince McCabe, USA

Hopefully we will return to more normal times here in Miami. Congratulations to Ms. Reno for moving this problem in her home town towards resolution. The silver lining is that the actions of the radical Cuban exiles has alienated non-Cubans and moderate Cubans alike. I feel the end of the unjust and outdated embargo is closer than ever. Free enterprise, not politics or exiles will liberate Cuba.
Ryan, Miami, US



I find the seizing of Elian Gonzalez very disturbing

Abiraa Balendran, 14, Canada.
The US government acted properly in the Elian case, and indeed had no choice but to remove the child from his great uncle's home by force. Despite the US Government's unrelenting, massive, good-faith, vigorous and sustained efforts to negotiate a different outcome, it became clear that only the use of force would ultimately preserve the rule of law and the protect Elian's father's rights. Elian's great uncle and other relatives in Miami are the ones who ought to be seen as the bad actors in this affair. They ignored the father's clear and unquestionable right to have his son back, violated and ignored several orders issued by the courts, made inflammatory public statements to arouse the local Cuban-American population, and ultimately precipitated Elian's violent removal from their home. Such cannot be the actions of people who truly have Elian's best interests at heart. Instead, they mounted the ludicrous argument that a great uncle and cousin who had never even met Elian until a few months ago should have custody of Elian in place of Elian's own father. Elian is now where he belongs with his father. Elian's great uncle and family in Miami should be ashamed of themselves for what they have put this little boy through after he survived his mother's death and a harrowing ordeal in the open sea.
Thomas Woods, USA

The federal government tried every way possible to negotiate an end to this national embarrassment and reunite the poor child with his father. The relatives, for their own political ends, gave the government no alternative but force. Had this child been from anywhere but Cuba he would have been returned almost the instant his father asked.
Don Stringer, USA

It's good to see, at last, that the Miami dissidents can no longer regard themselves exempt from the rule of law. My only hope now is that the US government handle the remainder of the case, and especially the reunion of Elian and his father, with discretion and privacy. The media circus has to end.
Nick Sweeney, UK

I think the central issue of this whole argument has been blurred? Yes the relatives were acting above the law and there is a case to be made for the authorities' action-but was force against a six year old boy really the necessary answer? Elian has been used as a pawn by both the government and the family-this is just another instance of pathetic example of tit for tat bureaucracy that has come to be renowned by the US
Shane Hickey, Ireland

The Miami relatives must take responsibility for the outcome of this situation. They arrogantly made demands on the father; demands that they had no right to make. The father had the legal right to custody of his son without conditions set by the Miami relatives. I don't want Elian to go back to Cuba either. However, even more so, I do not want to set the precedent that a parent's political views can be used to deny custody of their children. The government finally enforced the law.
Christine Hightower, USA

My name is Abiraa Balendran. I┐m 14 and I┐m from Canada. I find the seizing of Elian Gonzalez very disturbing. A six-year-old child should never be in a situation like Elian was. It was around 5:00 early morning, a child shouldn┐t wake up to people in black outfits pointing guns at his relatives. He was snatched from the people and home he had gotten used to over the last few weeks. I don┐t believe that the officials thought about the child┐s best interest. I also feel that the relatives should have been more co-operative with the federal officers in letting Elian see his father. As a six-year-old I don┐t think Elian is mature enough to understand the controversy surrounding him. I also think that the US government shouldn┐t have let this situation reach the level it has. Of course the child should go back to his father but not so aggressively. I don┐t think this whole event has anything to do with the Elian Gonzalez case its just another rivalry between the US and Cuba at the cost of a young 6 year old child. Now only time could tell, but Elian needs to get reconnected with his father, and build that father-son bond again.
Abiraa Balendran, Canada

This is what the Miami relatives have wanted all along. They wanted pictures of a crying child being taken by force from their home. They have not thought about the child's welfare. They did not give the government any other choice. They and their representatives constantly say they are being co-operative, following the law, and that they want what is best for the child, but their ACTIONS have been totally unreasonable, defiant, and have shown no care for the child's emotional well-being. The Miami relatives and the Cuban community outside that home should be ashamed of themselves.
J Elaine, USA

Most definitely this was the right thing to do. Should have been done earlier. Why should a father be kept apart from his six year old son, when he lost his mother. Moreover, Lazaro, the great publicity seeking uncle should be penalised for trivialising the rule of law. Saif Ahmed
Saif Ahmed, Toronto, Canada

Finally the government has taken action to enforce the law. It is hard to imagine why they could not arrest the Miami relatives before this. The family broke the law twice, so why did the government let them go scot-free, and suddenly turn up with guns in such an unearthly hour? Regardless of the rough seizure, I am sure everyone is glad that the boy will finally disappear from the headlines of papers all over the world. It's time he enjoyed his childhood without his selfish so-called relatives. How ironic that they claim that the boy should not be returned to live under the rule of the Cuban government. If they really loved him so much, they should have brought him along to seek refuge in Miami in the first place. Or perhaps brought his family along. Applause for the upholding of justice!
Zhe, Singapore

Once again the well-being of a six-year-old boy has taken a back seat to political insanity. I am sickened to witness another American fiasco, again orchestrated by a fool in Washington, DC. A very sad day for America.
Al Alexander, USA

Finally, the child will be returning to his father, and hopefully he'll be returning to his home in Cuba shortly. There was never any question in my mind. He belongs with his father and should have been returned immediately. It's the Miami relatives who've done the psychological harm they're complaining about.
Chris, USA

Along with the majority of other American citizens I have been disgusted by the inaction of our justice system in pandering to political considerations of the Miami Cuban immigrant majority. It occurs to me that if this Cuban immigrant community continues with their threat of civil disobedience, they should be deported back to from whence they came. Furthermore, this talk of the mother sacrificing her life for the child's freedom is nonsense. What she actually did was to kidnap him and irresponsibly put him in harms way. I must comment however on the overly dramatic swat team entry. Surely in the confined area of a small house in urban surroundings, a high powered automatic rifle is questionable to say the least, but perhaps typical of our Rambo like psyche.
K.B. Owen, U.S.A.

Hasn't Elian suffered enough what with his mother drowning and himself being rescued from the sea. Now to inflict even more physiological damage on the young man a group of armed men snatch him from his bed in the early hours of the morning, his face in the pictures saying it all, he does not understand what's happening or who these so called rescuers are! Elian is being used as a pawn by the US government in a well publicised case to show people must obey the law. Surely there is a better way of solving this case or any other case involving a child than armed men snatching him as if he were a major criminal suspect. His life was in no danger. It's disgusting. The US government need lessons in diplomacy.
Paul Edwards, Wales

Finally happened what should have been done already since long. This kid has been held hostage for too long and have been delivered now from its kidnappers. This wording would have been used if it the country would not have been the US.
Jeff

I believe that a son belongs to his parents, to his father and mother because they are the best ones to provide love and education to their children. In the case of Elian, he belongs to his father, not his relatives. He will be happier in his life with his father. His father seems to be a good person. I liked his appeal to the people of this country. He was acting democratically by asking the people to write to the President of this country to let him be reunited with his son. The Attorney General, Janet Reno, and this country put up a lot with these Cuban Americans. It was time to use force. The operation was very successful. Not one dead! Not one drop of blood. Congratulations, Attorney General Janet Reno. You made very clear to the world that the law is above everything in this country. Congratulations, again!!
John Llerena, Ecuador

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