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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Elian: Was force necessary?

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:

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

Your reaction

The Cuban community of this city (Miami) have shown nothing but arrogance towards the US government - by consistently disobeying US justice, they have left themselves out in the cold - the respect this exile community previously commanded has gone. The US government was wrong in its methods but right in its action - the Cuban community (and I know they are in a minority) should shut up and put up!
C, Brit living in US

There is so much death and disease in the world and we choose to ignore it to concentrate on one person that is unhappy. How many other children have fled their own countries and lost both their parents. Elian is with his father and we should be happy for both of them.
Narco, South Africa

Force in any case should be regarded as the guarantor of order in a society.

John, UK
Force in any case should be regarded as the guarantor of order in a society. IF it was not for force the life of little Elian would have been used as a political bargain. Let the primary moral values of families worldwide be preserve, even with the use of force.
John, UK

A few minutes of being scared is what it took to stop the boy being brainwashed by his Miami relatives and the rightwing Cuban-American religious fanatics; and returned to his family and his country.
Peter Robinson, England

As much as I dislike to see force become the only way to enforce the law, I am still waiting to hear one single logical argument supporting the Miami relatives' refusal to return this child to his father apart from their belief that life in the US is so much better than life in Cuba. If this is all they are basing this on, maybe they should go and bring all Cuban children to the US. It would be for their own good, wouldn't it?
Valerio, UK

Americans play to the media. America is a violent society where strength has prevailed against common sense or even justice. It is a society build on the corpses of the predecessors. In the Gonzales case the protesters were the perpetrators and now there is protest against the enforcers of the law who did their duty in the best and only possible way. The protestors played havoc with a child, a helpless child and took on the mantle, illegal duty of playing politics. Let good sense prevail, above all.
Dr Bhogal, UK

I find this whole mess disgusting. People are exploiting this child to the fullest extent and squabbling over him, but at the end of the day he is a small boy who will probably be seriously affected by this for the rest of his life. The adults should never have been so childish in the first place. Surely they are responsible enough to sort out the problem quietly, for themselves, for the sake of the boy?
Nicola Booth, England

Using force is the American way to get democrancy
Dai Thang, Vietnam

It is unfortunate that should have come to this but what was done had to be done. Anti-Castro supports called it a "shameful display" and they were right. It is a shame that the Cuban-American community should be so militant as to require the use of force to ensure the safety of Elian and the US authorities. It is also shameful that such a large community and even the vice-president of the United States should approve and support what was, in essence, an international kidnapping. I congratulate Janet Reno on efforts but I do think that 5 months was much too long of a time to have waited. Elian is a small boy and 5 months is a significant portion of his life at this point. Perhaps in the future the US government will learn, and never leave any refugee that they find with US relatives before they send him back to his country of origin.
James Feenstra, Canada

They did the right thing, but in the wrong way. The US authorities have ruined the child emotionally; he will never ever get over such action; this will always haunt him.
Yaser H N, Saudi Arabia

Shame on the Republican Party for attempting to politicise this incident - I am embarrassed to be a registered Republican.

Paul, USA
Look at the video of that incident again. The supporters are throwing bottles, rocks, chairs, etc. at the agents. The agents showed great restraint in the situation. Reno put it best: a show of force, not a use of force. Congratulations, Janet Reno. Shame on the Republican Party for attempting to politicise this incident - I am embarrassed to be a registered Republican.
Paul, USA

No, I don't believe it was necessary for such force. Thank you Mr. Clinton for making the USA look barbaric. Another disgraceful job don by your team.
Joan, USA

The "show of force" was certainly needed and necessary to retrieve Elian Gonzalez from the family members in Miami!
Patrick, USA

The military precision and equipment used was simply unbelievable and too extreme!!!

David Masters, UK
I think that the whole situation should have been dealt with in a more expedient manner, it has dragged on too long and the life of this child has been tainted by the political aspirations and tensions of every one. In regards the taking of the child, the military precision and equipment used was simply unbelievable and too extreme!!!
The child was not a kidnap victim, he was being looked after by family members who strongly disagreed with decisions being made about the child's future. I would challenge any one who thinks that this ridiculous outing in to "might is right" tactics to think about the same thing happening in their home, if they were looking out for the interests of one of their relatives. Yes the action was decisive, but the ends did NOT justify the means!
David Masters, UK

Everyone can scream out "American brutality!, American brutality" as much as they want about the seizure, but it was the only thing that could be done.
The Miami relatives were unlawfully holding the boy from seeing his dad and that's wrong. Desperate time call for desperate measures.
Joseph Banks, US

Juan Miguel has been so patient in the last 5 months...even the knowledge of that shows me who the child is better off with. I think that the sharks between Cuba and the US are nothing compared to those in Miami. And what about the film that the relatives made of Elian saying that he didn't want to see his father again??! Personally I think that is more damaging to him than the raid over the weekend.
Kirsty Carter, USA

The "rescue" seems a fairly typical over-handed American operation. Perhaps we will hire the SAS next time.
Peter Dennis, UK

The kid should have been left in the USA. He said he did not want to go back yet nobody listened to the one person who mattered most. THE CHILD! Authorities take note.
Marina, Scotland

Let the boy go home with his father and get to work on some issues that are more important than dealing with this dysfunctional Miami family.

Evelyn, USA
Attorney General Reno did what she had to do. Why did the Miami family get away with breaking the law? How come they are in Washington and not in jail for their disobedience? Where are the FAMILY VALUES that our fellow Republicans declare so vividly?
Why do our tax dollars are being used for another investigation? Another 50 million perhaps? Enough already, let the boy go home with his father and get to work on some issues that are more important than dealing with this dysfunctional Miami family.
Evelyn, USA

The Cuban exiles show that they still have a major lesson to learn on the subject of Freedom. Freedom carries obligations. Just because you're in the USA (Land of the Free) doesn't mean a "Free for All".
In a free and democratic country, disputes are resolved by the law of the land. If you want to be part of that community, you have an obligation to abide by the law. The "raid" was the result of the refusal of the relatives to abide by the law. If the don't like it, they could always go back to Cuba!
Dave Walker, UK/Switzerland

The use of forces was necessary, and was the right thing to do. Congratulation for those who enforced the laws and reunited the father and the son. Even though some useless politicians and disgraceful Miami relatives criticised what happened this Easter weekend, we, the citizens of the world support your action.
Shame to the Miami relatives and the politicians. If you want justice you have to obey laws. Remember you have too much freedom in America.
Theang Ly, Cambodia

There was no hostage situation, if there was why was the FBI allowed in the house just hours before the raid?

Tom Gunn, USA
The one thing that is not coming out about all of this is the fact that the family in Miami had been letting the Feds into the house to check on Elian.
There was no hostage situation, if there was why was the FBI allowed in the house just hours before the raid?
Tom Gunn, USA

The taking of Elian is proof that we are living under a dictatorship, complete with a Praetorian Guard. Our Constitution has been shredded. The rule of law is whatever Clinton says it is. We deserve more than a lawless liar as President.
Cathy Caten, US

I support the decision to hand back Elian. Notice how most of the opposition to the decision from the USA is politically motivated. I.e. you don't like Clinton and everything he does sucks. Get over it Republicans.
Steve Brisley, Australia

I think the use of such force was a shameful act for the US. What a sad commentary for the land of the free.
Barbara Prentice, Canada

Excessive force? Communist father? A better life in Miami then in Cuba? The father afraid of Castro's retribution? Say the following over and over again. THE MIAMI RELATIVES NEVER HAD A RIGHT TO WITHHOLD THE CHILD FROM THE FATHER. PERIOD!!
Robert Angel, USA

That little boy has been through a lot in the past few months. He belongs with his family, his father, stepmother and brother. Its not fair that grown-ups should fight over his head, can't they be civilised people and think about the child before themselves. His home that he knows and is familiar to him is in Cuba, no where else.
Losing his mother should have been enough but the poor boy was then fought over. I just want to yell at all of them grown-ups to grow-up. I agree that being rescued in such a way must have been very scary but at least now he has something stable back into his life. He should now be able to go back home and live like a normal little boy.
Teza, UK

These people had no right to hold him up as a martyr for the Cuban refugee movement

Courtney Ramirez, California, USA
In reading through the previous comments, I am surprised that a few have interpreted the recent events as an act against Elian Gonzalez. It is his Miami "family" that are the criminals. They have been guilty of criminal kidnapping from the moment they first suggested they would not return the boy to his father. Up until the last minute they were still trying to negotiate on their own terms. Ms Reno was well within her rights and her actions were most certainly called for in such a hostage situation. Elian is only a six-year-old boy. These people had no right to hold him up as a martyr for the Cuban refugee movement, and how dare they call in to question a loving father's ability to care for his child because of the politics of his country.
Courtney Ramirez, California, USA

The scene would not have been pretty under any circumstances given the histrionics of the little Havana family who kept the boy.
Amy, Miami FL USA

Elian's relatives in Miami were unreasonable in their desire to prevent the boy going back to Cuba, but the fact that the government raided a private home in the wee hours of the morning with machine gunners to abduct by force one of the members of the household is something we have seen done in Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Communist China and is still done in Castro's Cuba. Are we U.S. citizens supposed to condone this just because it happened in the USA? The same raids are condemned when they happen elsewhere!
Lia, USA

Although Castro's Cuba is not a paradise, neither is the United States. At least, Cuba is a place where school shootouts do not happen on a regular basis (if happen at all) and chances of being shot while visiting National Zoo in Havana are pretty minimal.

I love how everyone KNOWS what the Miami family wants. Everyone on BOTH sides is such an expert on motives. In all this mess, only one thing is clear- it is utterly depressing how many people think the U.S. government should have used force. No matter what your opinion is on whether Elian should have been returned, the FACT is that there was absolutely no reason to use force at the time the house was raided.
Scott Porter, USA

I don't live far from Miami. My heart really goes out to the people that escaped alive from Cuba. It's a rough journey. Ninety miles of open sea in a raft with no water, terrible. But this situation isn't about people wanting to come to the States. It's about a little boy who was brought here. He can't make this decision on his own. He needs a father to help him learn how to make these decisions. That day, we honoured fatherhood. I'm proud of that.
Dave, States

Does the US realise what a laughing stock they have become over these sort of incidents?

Gordon Collins, England
My only comment is that if Elian had been from any other poor country apart from Cuba he would have been sent back long ago. Why on earth should the political beliefs of his father have anything to do with a kidnapping case by distant relatives? Does the US realise what a laughing stock they have become over these sort of incidents?
Gordon Collins, England

Am I missing the point - reasonable force? - You call this reasonable force - I'm glad in the UK we're still relatively civilised.
James, UK

I agree with the government. The boy was taken illegally from his country and his father. There is no question the government was right is using force and putting an end to the already long and drawn out situation.
Jeff Brackett, USA

Was there any choice left? All over the world it is normal that when a parent of a child dies, the other parent automatically will get custody over the child.

Marie-Jose Arts, The Netherlands
Was there any choice left? All over the world it is normal that when a parent of a child dies, the other parent automatically will get custody over the child. Elian's family in the USA should have sent him to his father on January 15th and did not do so. Elian is only six years old and cannot decide for himself. I think it is outrageous that this boy got caught in a political game. How big will his scars be?????
Marie-Jose Arts, The Netherlands

If Elian was the primary issue in this compelling and dramatic story, there would be an overwhelming amount of support for the father's right to his child regardless of the enforcement action.
However, the boy and his name have come to symbolise the Miami exile community's internalisation of Cuba and its woes. Now, the story has developed into an opportunity for the Republican Party to bash a teflon president and his vulnerable attorney general.
Julian Kemp, Miami, USA

Didn't they think about how this may affect him?

Kirsty, England
Was force really necessary? Didn't they think about how this may affect him? I think it's disgraceful how in the early hours of the morning the house was stormed by armed officials. I kinda know how it feels.
OK it was very different circumstances but my home was once surrounded by armed officers and I was only about 6 but imagine waking up to find the one place you are supposed to feel safe full of armed officials. I think that the person who authorised this should be ashamed of herself.
Kirsty, England

Good, the father is re-united with his son. And I hope this is the end of it. How many other fathers will tolerate some relatives stealing their son and making a public circus? I wouldn't.
Anup, UK

Just so that there is no misinformation, the police did have a legal warrant to search the Miami home for the child, and the INS also had the law on their side when they took the child from relatives who for weeks unlawfully kept him from the arms of his father.
V. Kovacevic, USA

I feel sorry for Elian, but the relatives had it coming.

Tim Rose, UK
Elian's relatives have been allowed special dispensation as Cuban asylum seekers to reside in the US under US Law. Due process has been carried out, and the opinions of relatives, judges and politicians noted, yet Elian's relatives chose to ignore the laws of the same country that has been kind enough to let them stay. They have paid no attention to the delicate political situation, relevant laws, or the child's mental well being in this dispute. I feel sorry for Elian, but the relatives had it coming.
Tim Rose, UK

That the government of my country would do this is absolutely disgusting. That this present administration would do this shows their true colours, and further undermines what this great nation is supposed to stand for. Freedom.
This kind of senseless, violent behaviour on behalf of "rescuing the child"? The bottom line is that Elian Gonzalez literally put his feet on American soil, and the law states that if a Cuban refugee manages to do that, they may file for asylum. That is the "rule of law".
K. Cochran, The United States of America

The boy must be with his father and his photos with him deserve 1000 words. He is happy with him. You see, some times, there is no need for a Batman uniform or hamburgers to be happy.
he Miami relatives turned the whole issue into media circus, and I learn now that CBS is preparing a TV movie about Elian! So, I can be easily persuaded that they used him for some political reasons, but children are human and not strings. And if the family doesn't like the decisions made by the US government, they can always return to Cuba!
Chryssoula, Greece

What sort of an example is this! Disgusting, sickening, shameful.

Tim Pearce, UK
I watched in horror as Elian was seized. Had this happened anywhere else in the world the US would have protested. As usual their behaviour leaves even the worst dictators looking good. What sort of an example is this! Disgusting, sickening, shameful. May the whole country hide its face in shame.
Tim Pearce, UK

If the government finally acted this way to enforce the law, it is because the Miami relatives never considered the interest of Elian himself. They made political capital out of a tragic situation - without taking the boy's interest into account - and denied the most elementary right: the boy belongs with his father.
The relatives were obstinate and unwilling to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner. They have got what they deserved.
Thierry, Belgium

The authorities would not have needed to snatch him if he had been handed over to the father as ordered. The Miami Cubans seek to live in America, but are not prepared to obey American laws they do not like. Surely this is a lesson for all countries willing to absorb large numbers of refugees?
Pete Goff, Kuwait

If reasonable civilised negotiating means don't work, it is the authorities' obligation to use force to apply the law applicable. Here the father has the moral and legal right of custody of his son. Just that the relatives reside on a richer side of the world do not make them above the law. The authorities did the right thing.
Rokny H. Pio, India

Elian's mother gave her life to ensure that her son would have the opportunity to grow up in a free and open society.

Kiley Anderson, USA
I think we are forgetting one person's opinion in all of this. Elian's mother gave her life to ensure that her son would have the opportunity to grow up in a free and open society. One in which armed storm troopers don't break into your house before dawn.
But seriously, I noticed that only one comment on this message board was from someone claiming to be from Cuba. I think that says a lot. The USA may not be perfect, but, until the current administration, we had freedom and due process was our right when we disagreed with the government. Apparently the Clinton administration believes it is above the law and doesn't need a warrant like any other law officer in this country to enter a private home uninvited.
Kiley Anderson, USA

This child should have been returned to his obviously loving father the day he was released from the hospital after being found. As far as I know keeping someone else's child and refusing to give him back is kidnapping and kidnapping is still illegal in the USA.
Janet Reno's only mistake was waiting so long to take action. The Miami "relatives" left her no other choice than to take swift, secure action. She should be congratulated for her bravery and they should be in jail for kidnapping instead of whining around Washington DC demanding to visit their victim.
Yvonne TLC, USA

No matter how lovely his face is or how much his Miami relatives love him, he must go back Cuba.

Liu Zheng, China
Surly, Elian is an illegal immigrant to USA, which means no matter how lovely his face is or how much his Miami relatives love him, he must go back Cuba. Emotionally, the boy should not be treated with violence. Objectively, violence is necessary based on the principle that nothing can be above the law.
Liu Zheng, China

How can anyone be so presumptuous as to think that only the USA can offer Elian the "good" life?

Chien M Ho, Singapore
Honestly, I feel quite disgusted about the way in which the Miami relatives and the Republican politicians have handled this matter. How can anyone be so presumptuous as to think that only the USA can offer Elian the "good" life? If the good life means McDonalds, glitzy shopping malls, and 200 inane TV channels... not to mention drugs, sex and rock n roll, fine! But there are others who do not think so. Juan Miguel doesn't think so. Is this so difficult to accept? Some Republican politician even suggested that Juan Miguel take a tour of the local supermarket to get a taste of America! Is this what America is all about? The Americans should accept that not everyone in the world subscribes to their idea of the good life.
Chien M Ho, Singapore

I think the President did the right thing. The family basically kidnapped the kid. It doesn't matter whether they saved him from a raging volcano or killed a dragon to save his life. Elian is not their kid. The president is doing what's best for the country. YES. This Elian matter could have political repercussions and I think Clinton is doing the right thing by not starting a confrontation with Castro. Unfortunately, it was the Cuban folk here in the US and in Cuba that gave Elian undue importance and near deity status...
Jorge P, USA

Elian was returned to his father after being kidnapped by his uncle. Yes, force was necessary.

I think this whole Elian thing is a disgrace and those who were for this whole episode should be ashamed of themselves. This boy had every right to be here. I think Janet Reno is a disgrace and should resign as soon as possible. This was even more cowardly then what she did at Waco.
Michelle, USA

A parent has the fundamental right to have his child with him or her. In this case the father, the mother having passed. Of course authorities have to investigate whether the parent can take care of his child. If not other relatives maybe can. I think another rule must be that never force can be used for the wellbeing of a child. Force and wellbeing are very contradictory.
Leo Coene, Belgium

Unfortunately, both parties acted the wrong way: The Cuban exiles in Miami should have been put in jail a long time ago for not obeying a court order. They are not above the US law, and if they don't want to obey it they should return to Cuba. On the other hand the US government should never have engaged into talking to them like this. The government should have gone against the relatives a long time ago, fully enforcing the court order. At the same time they should have gone against the relatives not against Elian.
M. Vejvoda, USA

Our respect goes to Janet Reno and her correct action in this case, which was well timed.

Olafsson, Iceland
Our respect goes to Janet Reno and her correct action in this case, which was well timed. Show of a invincible force is sometimes the best means to prevent hotheads from taking illconsidered actions. People which hold childrens, even though they are relatives, at ransom should be prosecuted. And I think that lot of Americans agree to our opinion, that the drug and crime infested place, Little Havana in Miami, is not the place where they would like their children to grow up in. I personally think they would be better off in Castros Cuba.
Olafsson, Iceland

How can some of you commentators call the Miami family kidnappers? They dragged Elian out of the water, in which his mother drowned fleeing Cuba. They didn't want to send him back to that. Some of them left Cuba for a reason. To any of you who have been in their situation, leaving a country ruled by a dictator, having a gun pointed at you or your flesh and blood by federal agents, then I think you have a right to judge them. They offered for Elian's father to come stay with them to be reunited with his son. What was wrong with that idea? I don't think these people were dangerous powerful threats that caused Janet Reno to resort to violence. Really now! Think about it
Alexandra, Canada

The USA definitely did the right thing. And I think you'll all be surprised at how unaffected he will be by it all. Children are tremendously resilient, all that stuff about psychological damage was just an excuse.
Daniel Lock, Japan

What's there to be discussed further? I think Juan Miguel must now withdraw the 'Miami relatives' application for Elian to remain in the US. Who really believes that a six-year-old boy made that decision? As his father Juan Miguel must withdraw the application, take his family and go home. I think the so called Cuban Americans must deal with the fact that there are some people who CHOOSE to live in Cuba.
R Andrews, Trinidad

I think the Miami relatives have shown their hand over the past 48 hours. This event provided them with a long period of fame. While the government was heavy-handed, they only did what the relatives forced them to do. These people should be ashamed of their behaviour in keeping Elian from his father and they should not be given the continued opportunity to grandstand in from of the news cameras. In a typical American style, everybody saw the Elian case as a great vehicle for pushing political ambitions.
Barry Newstead, Singapore

The Miami family was on the phone negotiating the reunion of Elian with the father. On hold, with Reno on the line. Women were praying outside. The family's life was in full view. The child was in full view. I had personally seen him on a swing earlier, happy, free. The only rumors of weapons in the neighborhood had come from Castro. There were no guns in that house. And everyone knew it. They destroyed the house, called him the "f' ing" kid, give me the "f' ing" kid, hit women calling them whores, pointed to the other children in the house. Clinton lied when he said the Court of Appeals had authorized it. Reno insulted us saying to look closely at the photo of the officer to see that he was not pointing at Elian's head, nor his finger was on the trigger. The lawyer Greg Craig can go in and out of the Andrews Airforce. But the third in command of that installation, Senator Bob Smith is not allowed to go in and see Elian. No one can see him. Just in photos. Not in full view. Castro mentioned Elian had to be "re programmed ". No, all this was not necessary.
Gisela Lopez-Mata, USA

I think the boy belongs with his father. I do not think that the US should have used as much force as they did. A man/woman dressed in street clothes who calmly walked in and collected the boy would have been a more reasonable solution. I believe that the Miami family is now feeling what the father may have felt for the past five months. Only now that the boy has been taken from them do they want to meet with the father. But when the grandmothers came several weeks ago and asked for the return of the boy, they wanted no part of it. I feel that the force used by the US was wrong, but an action that needed to be taken. If only they could have done it in a more "humane" way.
Mary, USA

The taking of Elian was necessary because the family were too defiant of the law. Once the temporary custody was taken away their refusal was equivalent to a kidnapping. Force is always used in hostage situations, and Elian was one.
Jennifer Galante, USA

The father (provided he is fit) is the sole carer for his child if mother is not there to care for him. This is the LAW for most of the countries in the world. The behaviour of the Miami relatives is both disgusting and unlawful. They do not have the best interests of the child in their heart, and how could they try to brainwash the child against his own father? The Cuban exile community has proved only one thing in this this sorry saga of theirs - that they are just as bad, or even worse than the very system they have run away from. Good on Janet Reno to take affirmative action so that a child and his loving father can be re-united again.
Graeme Zhang, New Zealand

It is sad day when you hear the cousin of Elian, Marisleysis, say how it is that Elian could not be without her for more than two seconds. It is a sad day to see how she denied that the child on the photographs released of Elian and his father was really Elian. It is sad because more than showing the need that Elian had for her, it shows her own needs. Can't she understand that Elian can be emotionally attached to others, especially his own father? I appreciate the concerns for someone who is to live in a totalitarian regime. But let us be absolutely clear, people can be happy even in those regimes. More to the point, the choice for a child should be made by his own parents, and in this case in the absence of the mother (who in any event had taken Elian out of Cuba without the father's consent) surely can only be the father's. And he has made his choice. It is absurd to suppose that he could only make decisions freely in Miami. He's currently in a US Air Force base. He could very easily seek asylum there. The fact that he has not must convince people that he does not want to live in the US, that he wants to return to Cuba.
Myriam, New Zealand

I am pleased with the rescue of Elian. The show of potential force was necessary to prevent an armed clash. It was swift, peaceful, and effective. I rejoice to see son and father reunited.
Robert Klusener, USA

It's absolutely horrible that little Elian had to go through this additional trauma, but the Miami relatives didn't leave Reno much choice. They turned Elian into a pawn. His father couldn't go down and get him, the crowd would have killed him given the chance. By letting this circus drag on as long as it did, Elian's Miami relatives showed how much they really care about the boy. Now that he's back with his father, Elian can finally begin healing.
Liz, Boston, USA

People who think the US Government used just force in taking this boy are mindless fools! Allowing a government to manhandle law abiding citizens like this is the first step to a country becoming a tyrannical dictatorship.
Tom, USA

Isn't it a coincidence that there just happened to be an AP photographer on the scene to capture images of a terrified Elian to be immediately distributed to the crowd outside the house? If they truly cared about Elian, they would have prepared him joyfully to see his father, even if it broke their own hearts to let him go. But that is not the case here. The Miami relatives should be ashamed of themselves - they set this whole thing in motion by keeping Elian away from his father. They tried at every point to stir the pot. It's done now - he's back with his father, however intense the procedure to take him was. I am only sorry it took so long - these were months that his "loving" relatives had to fill his head with their own political agendas. Shame, shame, shame! Elian will recover, now that he is with his family who truly loves him. It takes guts to do what Reno did - she knew she'd catch flak but she knew she'd never get the child away from the Miami faction without force.
Juliane, USA

I absolutely agree that force was necessary. The Gonzalez clan were brainwashing Elian and using him as a pawn. Janet Reno showed extreme patience. You DO NOT NEGOTIATE with kidnappers.
Jim Hoffman, US

In reality, the Miami relatives of Elian are responsible for the action taken by the US Government. If they had obayed the law, this shouldn't happened.
Shahzad Shakir, Pakistan

If Elian's abusers/kidnappers and the idiots who are protesting in the streets in their support don't like America, they can always go back to Cuba. Elian belongs with his father, period dot end, no exception, no discussion. Janet Reno and Justice did exactly the right thing and should be highly commended. I only hope Mr. Gonzalez and his new wife are successful in helping Elian get over the abuse and brainwashing he's been subjected to over the past few weeks.
Charlene, Canada

The Miami family and fellow Cubans are absurd. I was happy to see the US government use the necessary force. Sure, the semiautomatic weapons would scare anybody, but in today's US society, no one can assume that there were no guns in the Miami house or that Federal agents would have been safe if they just strolled into the house and politely asked for Elian. I think the Miami relatives should be praising the fact that the free society they live in let them be defiant against the law for as long as they were. I support the was the case was handled early Saturday morning. And, I wish Elian a safe trip back to Cuba, where he belongs with his father.
Paul, USA

The Miami relatives were on the wrong side of the law and were criminals. Perhaps someone should file charges against them for kidnapping.
John Velateer, USA

In the USA, we have a show called COPS. These are police videos taken by different departments around the US. Sometimes we see how Europe handles things too. It was not all that unusual how the police would react. They knew something was up. Why would they have so many people in the house? They were never going to turn over the child without a fight. And now that the shoe is on the other foot, they (the uncle and cousin), are saying how they were the victims, how could the US do this? The Miami relatives are using the press to get Elian back as they were using them to keep him. They paraded a little child in front of the camera and spoiled him for months. Wouldn't that be considered exploitation? At times Elian's uncle and cousin played to the cameras as as a stressed out family. Now, that pictures show how happy he is with his dad, they are going to say that it is not a true picture of Elian. Give me a break! Was the video that the uncle and cousin made with Elian telling how he feels really a true picture? He needs to go home to Cuba.
Russ Black, USA

One may well argue why it was necessary for these men to carry machine guns, but the blame for the whole mess goes 99% to the Cuban-American Castro haters. I have only contempt for all those politicians who are quick to attack the US Government's operation, but but do not in the least critisize the exploitative behavior of the Miami Cuban-Americans.
Hans Stocker, Switzerland

Regardless of whose custody Elian should be in, I feel disgust as a citizen of the United States after witnessing such excessive force. This was a family home not a house of criminals, the Clinton administration was negotiating in bad faith, and demonstrated for the millionth time that the administration has absolutly no regard for the law of the United States, and is not looking out for the best interests of this child. They have no respect for its citizens, and absolutly no domestic leadership skills whatsoever. I cannot believe what I have seen on TV and read in the papers. For God sakes this is the United States not communist Russia, why on earth are federal agents using force when there were still so many options left in the situation? Now I can't wait until the November elections when I will have my turn to cast a vote against those involved in this administration.
Emily, USA

The INS had to do what they were forced to do by the actions of the relatives in Miami. They kept moving the goalposts as Janet Reno said.
Fitzgerald Yaw, Jamaica

Why have all these do-gooders got such a problem with armed intervention against law breakers? Just like with children that will not go to bed there gets a point where reasoning fails and force is necessary!! Well done America - next move is to jail the Cuban exiles that rioted or send them back to Cuba if they don't respect Americas laws.
Glen, New Zealand

The snatching of Elian Gonzalez by the US governemnt was unnecessarily violent. Things should have been done in a less confrontational manner.
Gabriella Ibieta, USA

The boy belongs to his father. The Miami relatives want people to accept their argument that since the father is a Cuban who wants to live in Cuba, he should lose custody of his son. Time someone showed the Anti-Castro extremist some humanity. They are worse than the dictator they claim to be opposing.
Chileshe Lumpombwe, Japan

Janet Reno has been the only consistent voice of reason in this entire shameful episode. When will the citizens of the United States learn that they cannot insist that the world live by their rules? If it was saving Elian from communism that was the issue here, ask them to sponsor a child each in a North Korean orphanage. Elian belongs with his father, even if he has to go back to country where school children are not mowing each other down with their parents' guns.
S Sundaram, Malaysia

Instead of battle gear they should have worn business suits and ties, and instead of assault weapons they should have been armed with the proper legal documents.
Nelson Vaughan, USA

Although the life of a single child is important, why don't the Cuban-Americans channel some of this energy for the children of Miami and the rest of the country? There are plenty of children who can use the support that Cuban-Americans have given Elian.
E. Zuniga, USA

The Batista thugs in Miami claimed they were ashamed to be American. Well, after their cynical cowardice in disregarding the rule of law, I'm ashamed to have them as Americans.
Jacob PUnnoose, US

I think that the photo of the policeman in riot gear storming the bedroom will go down as one of this century's best photographs. Two questions. Why was a reporter there in the first place? Secondly, why do people not understand that the assault rifle that the policeman is holding is pointed, not at Elian, but at the person who would deny his father the right to his child?
Thomas Young, USA

I can assure you if Clinton was running for another term as President or Reno was running for a Senate seat in Florida this order would never be carried out. This is a devastating blow to Al Gore and will more than likely ensure George Bush the Presidency. There are over 20 million people of Hispanic origin in the US, therefore, Gore is going to pay the price for this action. The Republican party is going to have a field day over this.
John, Canada

Marisyles wants the publics support in her bid to see Elian now - what about all that time she denied his own father access...who does she think she is? It is 100% the Miami Relatives fault this kidnapping had to end this way.
Megaera, Canada

The only mistake Janet Reno made was to believe that by accommodating Elian's Miami relatives' increasingly irresponsible requests, she would gain their acquiescence to respect the law. These persons were also stimulated by U.S. politicians, Florida authorities and the Miami media into believing they could get away with the kidnapping of the child. In the end, force was necessary.
Carlos, Cuba

I fail to see the point of offering Elian asylum. There seems to be little difference between Castro's Cuba and Reno's America.
Tony A. Emond, USA

The Cuban exiles have shown is that they do not deserve the special treatment that were accorded by INS. Over the years they benefited from the sympathies of many Conservative Americans. With the holding hostage of a little boy from his father and the burning and stomping of the US flag has permanently broken that bond. They have marginalised their influence in US politics and any Republican politician coming to their rescue will be under taking that at a great personal risk. The Cuban exiles have overplayed their hand and they lost.
Shamim M. Huq, Houston, TexasUSA

The anti-Castro policy of the US has nothing to do with the right of a boy to live with his own father. Thank God, this story is over. Let's discuss about the future of US-Cuba relations and the future of Cuba after Castro.
Ioannis Chatzidakis, Greece

If Elian were a Cuban with black skin none of this would be happening. The world would have the same attitude has it did during the floods in Africa, the starvation in Ethiopia. I don't understand why this child's case is being treated differently that all of the other refuges and asylum seekers who come to America.
Xavier Rayford, USA

To paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, "This day will long live in infamy" when the US Department of Justice took forceful violent action when a family-friendly agreement had been reached at the precise same moment to transfer custody of Elian to his father.
George, USA

Clearly many courageous Cubans have risked their lives to come to US. Unfortunately the 'Cuban Liberation Circus' used this child to grab the media to their causes. The US government finally got it right. The cold war is over. Perhaps sanity can return to our relations with Cuba, as Elian returns.
Tim Soggs, USA

The US Govt & legal system have allowed the Cuban exiles to use the little child in their grubby war against Cuba. This saga has shown the American legal system in a very poor light.
Sohail Hussain, Chechnya/UK

I say well done Mrs Reno. I take my hat off to you and to the people who went and got the kid from that house.
Iona, USA

There are 1200 American children being held in foreign countries against the wishes of American parents. The figure may include children taken by one parent against the wishes of the other, but at any rate this is a serious problem. Castro's Cuba is a terrible place, but how could the U.S. demand the return of abducted American children if it allowed the Miami relatives to keep Elian illegally?
Andrei, U.S.A.

For those Cuban Americans who are so ashamed to be Americans because of what happened, "Well, go back to Cuba".
Kay, USA

Take a close look at those supposed "reunion" pictures. Elian appears to have grown a lot of hair and two new teeth in three or four hours. Who is behind this fraud?
James Castro, USA

Your question is not correct. The US gov't tried negotiations, but the Miami relatives were not responsive.
W.A.Callahan, UK/US

At last, let it be known we fathers are parents too. Thank you madam Attorney General Janet Reno for giving us hope. Has anyone thought to give Elian's cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez a psychological check? People were questioning the character of the father, but what about hers?
Neil, USAHow different would this all have been if it was the boy's father who died and his mother was living in Cuba? Is a father's love and care, of less value than a mother's? Would the boy have been returned months ago? I think so!
Michael, USA

The US authorities have already tried and have expended all non-violent means to have Elian reunited with his father and have simply come up against persistent defiance. I think that the people who have been looking after elian over the last few months have other concerns than Elian's welfare at heart. Personally, I am suspicious of anyone or group of people that express emotion so aggressively (I'm referring to Elian's Miami family. I feel that they are very aware of how they appear to other people and are deliberately trying to muster sympathy for their 'cause' and are using a child to do it. Shame on there selfish performance of emotion. Aren't they aware that such intense behaviour causes distress to children?
Zachary Mann, England

The people only know what they have been told by the press. In the USA the press loves Clinton. Therefore, what the people have been told is little more than Clinton propaganda. I suspect that few people commenting here know what has really happened concerning Elian in the days and weeks preceding the use of force to seize Elian. I am hopeful that the real story will eventually emerge.
John, USA

I am disgusted as an American Citizen that our government has done such a outrageous act. I believe that Elian should be allowed to stay in the United States. I also feel the families should be brought together and talk all of this out. Where is President Clinton and Janet Reno when American children are kidnapped by their parents and taken to other countries? Why aren't they helping the parents who live here getting their children back? We as Americans should demand that they help those parents get their children back from other countries. This beautiful child has gone through so much in the last five months. Castro is laughing as this whole mess. How as Americans can we let this happen? President Clinton insists that the law must be obeyed. Did he obey the law?
Michael, USA

To "Tom" from UK. NO! The US legal system HAS NOT ruled that the boy is to go back to Cuba. The US legal system has a series of appeals before an order from a bureaucrat can be enforced. In fact, the order has in effect "suspended" until the process is exhausted. What may be illegal is the seizure of the boy: his seizure my be ruled illegal and the INS may be held in contempt of court should the family chose to pursue this action. Also, there is a significant risk that the Air Force may go ahead and fly them back to Cuba in VIOLATION of the order from the 11th Curcuit Court of Appeals. Should that happen, there may not be any recourse for the family other than the satisfaction of knowing that the US government has violated its own laws to kiss Castro's ass!
Uncle, USA

I think that force was . If someone takes away my child and refuses to give him back, I would call that kidnapping. If it was any other situation, law enforcement agencies would definitely have used force. The father has every right to keep his child. Since when did relatives have more preference over immediate family? I think it is shameful that the relatives in Miami think that they have a case in the courts: a blatant abuse of democratic rights in this country.
Soumik Sen, Maryland, USA

For five months the attorney General of the USA tried to come to an arrangement with these cuban kidnappers. every time they came out with new excuses. the only people using this poor child as a pawn were cuban exiles anxious to keep their so called plight fresh in americans mind. they are fearful that america is softening on the cuban situation and in turn their special immigration status will be removed. the INS did what they had to do and as traumatic as it was it was the right thing to do. Remember they gave a father back his son, a father, not a cousin not an aunt, they returned him to his father. amen
Steve Glean, USA

While it is unfortunate that little Elian was seized by force by federal agents, I do not think the government had any choice. The Miami relatives and the Miami Cuban-American community made it quite plain that they would never peacefully relinquish control of the child to his father. They are the ones who made force necessary by their stubborn refusal to obey the lawful orders of the US Immigration Service. Let the responsibility for Saturday's action be on their heads. Gerold Reimondo-Jandrok USA
Gerold Reimondo-Jandrok, USA

The boy belongs with his father, not with kidnappers who just happen to be his family. Hiding a boy in a closet? Where I come from we call that abuse, and I'd be pretty glad to see a US Marshall come to save me...with a very big gun, the bigger the better.
Mac, UK

Instead of battle gear they should have worn business suits and ties, and instead of assault weapons they should have been armed with the proper legal documents.
Nelson Vaughan, USA

The use of force by the Federal government was unfortunate but necessary. This issue was not just about a bitter custody battle, but a matter of upholding the rule of law in society. We shall have to wait and see whether anyone associated with the Elian Gonzalez case can emerge with even a shred of dignity or self-respect. So far the signs are not good. At the bottom of a very unpleasant pile are, as always, the lawyers and the politicians. The laws of society, however distasteful we may feel them to be, cannot be held to ransom by an overwhelming minority, as was the case in Miami until yesterday morning. The boy is best off with his father. We can only hope now that he will no longer be paraded before the camera's and will cease to be a pawn in a much bigger game. Just how much interest will everyone show in Elian's welfare in a few weeks or months?
Hugh Jebson, USA

Your report said Elian was "seized". US news channel said "snatched" I think the correct word is "rescued".
Lawrence Ho, Malaysia

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