April 22, 2000 4:31 AM   Subscribe

posted by bluechief (23 comments total)
I don't see why they reacted in such a violent/harsh manner ? Surely further diplomacy or a formal handover would have been better than simply a brutal 'snatch'. I don't get why a swat team was sent in.
posted by williamtry at 4:50 AM on April 22, 2000

On the contrary, I think this was the only thing left to do. It had to be done by surprise, with no warning, with overwhelming force, to make sure that no-one was hurt. And indeed no-one was hurt, despite the clear intentions of the Cuban community there to try to riot.

The relatives in Miami simply refused to give the kid up, even though that was the right thing to do. Further negotiations were a complete waste of time.

The kid was scared out of his mind, no doubt of that. But that's the Miami relatives' fault. They had plenty of chances to give him up in a more orderly and less traumatic fashion, and refused to take any of them.

Do NOT blame the government for this. They were carrying out the law.

I think a good case can be made at this point that the Miami relatives are technically guilty of kidnapping and extortion. I have no sympathy for them; none whatever. Not even the faintest trace.

The right way to think of this is as a hostage rescue.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:11 AM on April 22, 2000

Holy cow. With the guns, it almost looks staged, as if this was an onion article done mostly in photoshop.

wow is right. But like Steven said, it was a hostage rescue.
posted by mathowie at 5:30 AM on April 22, 2000

It's about time. I didn't think they'd be able to pull it off without people getting hurt. Clearly this was a successful hostage rescue.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:28 AM on April 22, 2000

i would like to know who was snapping those photos.
posted by palegirl at 6:41 AM on April 22, 2000

I stand corrected then - obviously it was the only avenue left - it's just that here in Britain it is being reported as though it was wholly wrong.

Strange how that photojournalist got into that position isn't it?
posted by williamtry at 6:42 AM on April 22, 2000

"seizure of elian LIVE NOW -- from [gotta love the american media.]
posted by palegirl at 6:50 AM on April 22, 2000

Wow, I agree it looks almost staged. Those pictures... I'm skeptical.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:28 AM on April 22, 2000

Definitely strange about the photos, considering that this is exactly the sort of thing I think the US gov't wouldn't want photos of. But it seems like the whole thing has had simply the best camera angles...

Oh man, I think I'm gonna be sick.
posted by endquote at 7:49 AM on April 22, 2000

Yeesh, was it Garry Trudeau who proposed the idea of charging the media (Ted Turner in particular) for child abuse?
posted by harmful at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2000

My thoughts on the raid: About Time Too. My thoughts on the photo: well, in years to come it'll be studied in journalism school. I thought the British reporting (on radio at least) was fairly sanguine about the whole thing. With pictures, it comes across quite differently.

I only hope that the US govt. has the sense to avoid a media circus when the poor kid finally sees his father again.

posted by holgate at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2000

Holgate, you seem to think that the U.S. Government would consider a media circus a bad thing. I assure you, partisan politicians in this country will be using the media circus to attack one another, as usual. Especially during this year's election cycle.
posted by harmful at 8:29 AM on April 22, 2000

I'm curious to know: exactly which law does everyone think is being upheld here? I cannot find a single cite to a statute giving Janet Reno the authority to decide custody issues. The INS decides one issue only - can Elian lawfully be admitted to the United States? That issue, as we all know, is still pending before the courts.

Just because the government orders someone to turn over a child doesn't mean they have the lawful authority to issue the order. Just becuase you agree with the outcome (father and child reunited) doesn't mean that Reno had any legal authority to send thugs in riot gear into the home in the middle of the night.
Personally, I haven't said a whole lot about the issue before this week, but this morning our government went too far.
posted by mikewas at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2000

Salon has an article about the photographer.

If you had a child, and a second cousin took that child away, wouldn't you want the authorities to get that child back?

I'm sure the same people who criticized Reno for acting too slow on this are going to criticize her for extracting the child.

This whole thing isn't over though, since the court ruled that Elian has to stay in the US until the matter of custody is settled. Expected an extended court drama bigger than the OJ Simpson debacle.

Meanwhile, the real issues of hypocritical immigration policy and the double standard of relations with Cuba vs. relations with China continue to be ignored by the mainstream press.
posted by alan at 9:51 AM on April 22, 2000

A court already considered the issue of custody, and granted custody to the father. That's the law which is being upheld here.

EVEN AFTER a court ruled against them, the Miami relatives refused to release the kid. There were a couple of weeks of negotiations which failed, and then the US issued a order for them to deliver the kid to the Miami airport on a certain date at a certain time. They did not do so.

In my opinion, at that point they became kidnappers, which is a felony. And they have been holding him under threat of force (the mob outside) ever since.

I'd like to ask two questions here, to try to test how sincere everyone is:

1. Suppose the kid had been Haitian instead of Cuban. Do you think there would have been such an uproar?

2. Suppose that the kid had been black instead of white. (Many Cubans are descended from freed slaves, just as here in the US.) Do you think there would have been such an uproar?

posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2000

harmful: I've nothing against media circuses when the performers are willing participants: clowns rather than dancing horses, if you like. Bush and Gore court publicity, and get it to good and bad effect. Nobody asked this family (and by "family", I mean father and son) to subject themselves to this treatment from all sides.
posted by holgate at 11:11 AM on April 22, 2000

And another thought: as Slate pointed out, the Atlanta court's decision on a child's right to claim asylum gives the green light to lawyers who loiter around DisneyWorld, asking six-year-olds if they want to stay there forever...
posted by holgate at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2000

poor little kid... here's a link to a story that has pictures from the reunion. i haven't seen a smile like the one on his face yet.
posted by sugarfish at 11:35 AM on April 22, 2000

In that CNN article, the great-uncle's daughter is quoted as saying, "I thought this was a country of freedom." Uhm, well, there are laws in the US. If you don't follow them, something will happen. Steven's post above sums it up greatly.

Bottom line: he is 6 years old. He is a child. He is not old enough to make his own decisions. His father is still alive. He should be with his father.
posted by hijinx at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2000

I now know why the operation was as clean as it was. The core of the assault group were US Marshals. I had thought they might be, because the Marshals train for exactly this kind of thing.

Actually, they train for much worse, because what they train for is to apprehend fugitives which are armed and dangerous; from that they learn to move in fast with overwhelming force, take the objective, and then get their asses out of there.

Among other things, they've learned that looking and acting fierce usually makes it so you don't have to be fierce. Carrying an assault rifle instead of a pistol decreases the chance that you'll have to fire anything at all, for instance. A lot of it is psychological; if the targets think there's a chance of winning a fight, they're more likely to try. If it looks hopeless, they're far more likely to give up and not resist, which is better and safer for everyone involved.

It's no wonder the operation was a clean and professional as it was. I absolutely do not envy the person who had to plan this raid; it could very easily have exploded in their face and left a non-trivial body-count. As it was, it's hard to see how it could have been better given that that mob was primed for a riot.

A superb job, all in all. Commendations to the Marshal's service. They get a gold star on their report for this month.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:33 PM on April 22, 2000

I've thought about this matter all day. I've finally come to the conclusion that I agree with Steven about the way in which it was handled.

I'm also jealous. As a father who has been apart from his children, without my consent, through no fault of my own. . . I would wish I could have gotten action like this. Bravo. No father should have to endure this. No woman, man, court, or country should stand in the way either.

I probably should not have personalized the issue, but sometimes it's the only way to understand it. As it could relate to you.

For those fathers out there, you know what I mean. For those future fathers, don't think for a minute that someone can't make decisions about your children that you are powerless to influence. There is no equal protection for fathers.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 5:47 PM on April 22, 2000

I know it's strange, but I feel guilty just for looking at these pictures... I feel so bad for Elian, and I don't really think everything needs to be photographed or broadcasted...
posted by premiumpolar at 10:34 PM on April 22, 2000

Can anyone explain to me why on earth the fisherman was in the house? It's like they're writing the news so that there will be more parts for major actors in the miniseries.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2000

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