Fidel's victory over the U.S. is complete.
June 28, 2000 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Fidel's victory over the U.S. is complete. Elian will return to Cuba, probably before the next sunrise. Why did this decision take so long? The negligent bungling of the Clinton adminsitration, the Department of Justice, and the INS. When Elian first arrived, the INS placed him in the custody of his nearest kin here in America, and advised them to seek a state court ruling on custody. They relied on that advice and did so. Then, for political resonas, the administration betrayed both the family and the boy, critically undermining our foreign policy objectives in the process. His future as a pawn of the Castro tyranny looks bleak indeed. We can only hope he and every other Cuban are soon freed from Fidel's rule.
posted by mikewas (34 comments total)
Dear God, will the posturing NEVER CEASE?!?! He's six freakin' years old, you moron, and he has a father who is very much alive and wants him to return to his home to be raised in a way the father thinks is right. Fight your own battles, and let the poor kid just grow up with his father and what's left of his family.
posted by m.polo at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2000

The politicization of this kid's custody is appalling. Since when are Republicans in favor of keeping a child away from his parent? I'm glad to see Elian go home. Maybe he can go back to being a child and stop being used as a political football.
posted by rcade at 12:03 PM on June 28, 2000

i can agree that the Elian case was bungled by the administration, but to say that Fidel Castro has some how engineered this victory is just silly. i think Elian should have gone to his nearest kin when he washed ashore, and then, as soon as was possible, returned to his natural family in Cuba. The reason that didn't happen is because most in the gov't just don't understand the fierce feelings about Cuba among expatriates in Miami. The fact is, the Cuban-American community in Miami is as much to blame for using Elian as is the US government and Fidel castro. So let's send the poor kid back to Cuba where he belongs and try to remember the lessons from this -- primarily that family and humanity come first, and politics come last. especially when it comes to a little impressionable kid. Everyone should be ashamed of themselves, but at least we can put it behind us.
posted by brookish at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2000

Happy Fun Statistic, from your pals at the CIA: They estimate that if Fidel opened his borders tomorrow, ~90% of Cubans would gladly stay put. They like it there, politics and all.
posted by aaron at 12:07 PM on June 28, 2000

Speak magazine ran an article written by a US visitor to Cuba; the writer found that most Cubans resented the USA for the embargo and hated the US gov't far more than Castro. Though he also interviewed several people who confessed in confidence that they would leave Cuba if they could because they wanted more freedom (of speech, assembly, etc.) than the Cuban government will allow.
posted by wiremommy at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2000

Yes, the boys keep trying to get out, but Fidel keeps reeling them back in, back to horrible, evil, 100% literate Cuba. We gave it our damnedest, but that crafty beared tyrant was too powerful for us. Truly, 'tis time to shed a tragic tear, for the prison that is Cuba has gained another lifer.

Now that little Alien is gone, I hope I never hear about it again.
posted by sixfoot6 at 12:29 PM on June 28, 2000

Heh. Good luck 6'6.

As far as I'm concerned, this is actually a victory for family values that I can feel good about. It's a shame that politics caused it to drag out so long.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 12:36 PM on June 28, 2000

Props to mikewas.
mikewas rocks, everybody else sucks.

m.polo: You don't seem to realize that political asylum is one of the rare cases where age has nothing to do with what is right. A jury even ruled two months ago that the request for political asylum should not be weighed based on the age of the requestor. President Clinton disregarded this ruling.

rcade: A better question would be "Why did the Administration go against the ruling of a jury, not to mention historical precedent by sending Elian back?
That speaks volumes more of a dishonest agenda than the Republican's trying to "Keep a boy from his father".

brookish: Sadly, sending Elian back puts politics first and humanity last. I'm guessing you have never visited Cuba. If you do, you will realize that sending him back is anything but humane.

aaron: Home will always be home. Even if it sucks.

sixfoot6: Maybe you and brookish should take a tour of Cuba and see what it is really like.

CrazyUncleJoe: Make it three tickets to Cuba. Get a first hand look at how Fidel fosters "family values".

Let the flames begin.
posted by Popstar at 1:05 PM on June 28, 2000

Economic living conditions to not denote the complete living enviroment.

Before the boy enters adulthood the chances are very good that the political climate in Cuba will do a 180. Castro can not live forever and chances of a dictator with his cult of personality are slim to none. This is made even more true by the huge amount of money just waiting to poor in.
posted by Mick at 1:11 PM on June 28, 2000

so you've been to cuba, then, popstar?

what's it like? i'd love to hear a firsthand perspective.
posted by maura at 1:34 PM on June 28, 2000

Yes, maura, I have.
I would be sticking my neck out a bit in making my previous comments if I hadn't been there. I would be glad to do my best to answer any questions that you might have. I certainly haven't been everywhere in Cuba but I have visited it several times and it is an area of interest and study for me. Please send your questions to and I'll do my best to answer them.

posted by Popstar at 1:43 PM on June 28, 2000

Popstar: The extralegal effort by Miami's Cuban-American community to kidnap Elian from his father reached the 11th Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court declined to reconsider it. Yet, you believe a jury decision trumps both of those courts. Maybe you should spend a little less time touring Cuba and a little more boning up on American law.
posted by rcade at 2:08 PM on June 28, 2000

How is this not simple?

Boy. Father. Done.

I don't care if Juan was a freakin' Psychlo desiring to wipe out the human race.

Boy. Father.
posted by peterme at 2:25 PM on June 28, 2000

Popstar, you say, "A jury even ruled two months ago that the request for political asylum should not be weighed based on the age of the requestor." And yet, the District Court overruled that and the Supreme Court allowed the District Court's ruling to stand. Therefore, I am able to conclude that the jury - and you, in citing their ruling - are wrong. The courts are saying that political asylum isn't something that a six year old can be considered responsible or informed enough to ask for, which is basic common sense except for those so blinded by hatred of Castro they cannot see the obvious.
posted by m.polo at 2:30 PM on June 28, 2000

And let's not forget the whole sexism of the situation. If it had been the father who'd died in the boat, and the mother who had come to reclaim Elian, this would've been over within 24 hours.

But, yeah... Fidel is going to die soon, and the current regime is going to crumble. It's just a matter of time. My guess is that Elian will be able to rock out to whatever band he likes, print whatever he likes in the student paper, and buy whatever consumer pap he prefers, before he graduates high school. Hell, I'll bet he does a Nike ad by then.


I'll go further. If we were to drop the useless for forty years embargo, give Cuba full diplomatic recognition, and just start parachuting in consumer goods, whether Fidel wanted them or not... He'd be out in a month, dead or alive. And would've been, at any time, during the whole sad saga of this big country and that little island.

posted by aurelian at 3:39 PM on June 28, 2000

I don't pretend to know a whole hell of a lot about Cuban-American relations, but if this case hadn't been so heavily publicized, politicized and mediarized, wouldn't he have been sent back to his father a lot sooner? The US ships truckloads of people back to other countries daily. Most of them don't have the Supreme Court checking in. (Please don't think I am making a statement either way about US immigration policies -- I certainly don't know enough -- just thinking out loud here.)
posted by birgitte at 4:27 PM on June 28, 2000

Yes, Mike, Fidel's victory over the US is complete. We've got all the money, and he's got a little kid. I feel like SUCH a LOSER now.

Popstar and Mike, there was nothing in these rulings that contradicted your red-herring about asylum applications for minors. The only question was, should we accept the decision of his father, or of a distant relative, who under the recent Troxel ruling, wouldn't have a ghost of a chance at superseding parental rights in a custody hearing (that is, anywhere except Miami)?

I hope this sees an end to the vicious demonization of the boy's father, too.

Now, the sad people who tried to kidnap him ... I hope they realize how much they hurt their own cause.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 PM on June 28, 2000

How much did all of this ELIAN coverage, housing, plane trips, court costs, lawyers, political points, raids, pending lawsuits from that fisherman cost? How much hype, pointless news coverage, hours of discussion, and absurd comments from from the mayor, Geraldo, and other Florida representatives had to say to "protect Elian"? What soap opera TV shows will come next here in America? Fine, he is back in the communist Cuba country, I'm sure it sucks, but how many more "I've fled from insert foreign country to come to America" stories am I going to hear? because right now I could care less. Why does one story dominate the headlines for so long? Enough already, one big government subsidized vacation for everyone is plenty. What run away kid is next? Any predictions?
posted by brent at 5:29 PM on June 28, 2000

Fidel's victory over the U.S. is complete.
Ack! I'm suprised that you still have time to comment to MeFi and all, seeing as you're probably running out to buy canned food and Spanish/English dictionaries in preparation for the impending arrival of Fidel and his commie troops.Or, was that just a wee bit of an exaggeration? ;)
posted by jess at 6:09 PM on June 28, 2000

Shout out to mikewas and popstar.

You all are fucking idiots. If you can't see that the U.S. goverment just deprived freedom from one of the most deserving, you don't deserve the freedom you have. Maybe you should have gone to Cuba in his place.

Sending that kid back to Cuba was like throwing him over the Berlin wall. A kid always belongs with his father, eh? What about if the father is in a prison? Or a crackhouse? A kid still always belongs with his father?

And yes, there is a difference between political persecution and economic persecution.
posted by vitaminb at 7:38 PM on June 28, 2000

All of this jingoistic U.S. vs. Cuba nonsense is such a joke that I'd laugh out loud if it wasn't so pathetic. Do you think that anyone in this country would give have a shit about this kid if he were Mexican or Hatian? No? Didn't think so! This is a classic example of the United States sticking its collective nose where it doesn't belong.

Screw Elian! I'm a little more concerned about U.S. citizens that go to bed hungry, don't have access to health care or economic opportunity, etc. etc.
posted by ghostrocket at 8:09 PM on June 28, 2000

If little Elian was running an underground newspaper calling for the overthrow of the communist regime then he might have been granted asylum, but instead he was just a boy kidnapped by his mother. A mother who had no regard for his well-being by placing him on the raft that wound up killing her.

(aside) Um, B, calling someone a fucking idiot might not make people consider your opinion in a way that would change their mind.
posted by Mick at 8:21 PM on June 28, 2000

Um, Brookish? "Family and Humanity" are the *last* priotiry to communist dictators. Ask any Russian parent sent to Siberia on the testimony of *their own grade school child*.

Anyone nastier than us can quite easily hoist us on the petard of our *own* humanity.
posted by baylink at 8:23 PM on June 28, 2000

VitaminB: You sure convinced me. Let's keep all the kids who are brought here from unpleasant countries and send their parents packing. In fact, let's give Americans an incentive to kidnap a few on every foreign jaunt by offering a fast trip through customs for any person who declares a non-custodial communist child as part of his carry-on luggage on an inbound flight to the U.S.
posted by rcade at 11:50 PM on June 28, 2000

Despite his reactionary views, Popstar doesn't write like a complete idiot and he probably knows when he's distorting the facts to confuse the ignorant - especially if he's been to Cuba. Popstar, are you Henry Kissinger? If so, I loved that TV advert you did for The Economist.
posted by Mocata at 2:39 AM on June 29, 2000

Did anyone read that article about the 6-year-old girl from Haiti who arrived in the US under similar circumstances as Elian, at around the same time? She was deported very quickly. The differences between her case and Elian's were quite instructive. I wish I could find that article again, but I don't remember where I read it.
posted by wiremommy at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2000

Do I need to get a new drivers license? Is US money still valid? Should I toss my social security card?
posted by EngineBeak at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2000

Hello everyone... first post here, so be gentle.

Saw the thread on Elian, and couldn't resist posting my 2 cents. Of course, I'm not sure who was the greater hostage during this whole episode: Elian or the US public. Seemed that the posturing would never end.

If it wasn't Elian's relatives in Miami (and their supporters) undermining the rule of law that they escaped Cuba to enjoy... or the Republicans mugging the camera to take potshots at the administration (am I wrong, or have recent congresses lost their grips on reality? I mean, I'd think the Republicans would be the first to get Elian back to his father... but no: anything Clinton does is open for attacks, regardless of its merits)... or the media over-simplifying the whole fiasco in order to fit it into a 30 second sound bite.


I, for one, am happy that Elian was finally returned to his father and they've both returned to Cuba. I wish them the very best. My only regret is that the Miami relatives didn't get tear-gassed, and the Mayor of Dade County was brought up on charges for inciting a riot.
posted by silusGROK at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2000

Dan and Jess: Of course, I'm not referring to physical occupation of the U.S. by Cuabn troops - but you knew that. What I AM referring to is the way the Clinton amdinistration performed a complete 180-degree turn in its handling of this case at Castro's bidding. Why Clinton did this, I cannot say.

Dan, you are correct when you note that the Miami Gonzalez family did not represent themselves well; however, that has no bearing on the legal issues in this case. I do not agree with your interpretation of Troxler, which addressed a state law's infringement of parental rights. The Supreme Court has never ruled that parents cannot be permenently stripped of legal custody of their children IF IN THE CHILD'S BEST INTEREST. Even the INS procedures provide that a minor may apply for asylum against his parents' wishes.

rcade: We have treaties with most other countries, not Cuba, that provide for the return of kidnapped children, so that's a non-issue.

m.Polo: I won't call you a moron, as you have done to me, but simply allow your words to speak for themselves. You are absolutely incorrect in your intereptation of what the courts have said - no court in this case has ever ruled that a six-year-old cannot apply for asylum on his own behalf. Go read the opinions.

Popstar: I think the "jury ruling" you refer to is the 11th Circuit's original decision on the injunction, in which they held that there was a substantial likelihood of success on the issue that any alien, regardless of age, could legally apply for asylum.

Wiremommy: Apparently, no U.S. resident sought to take custody of the child, as Lazaro Gonzalez did with Elian.

EngineBeak: Yes, you should toss your Social Security card, just on general principle.
posted by mikewas at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2000

Found this article, and this one, about the Haitian girl's situation. The family friends whom her mother left her with wanted to adopt her. INS officials said she had no legal basis to be in the US. I can't find any info on how this case was resolved, but I did learn from the articles that the Haitian girl couldn't become a citizen unless the family who wanted her went through a lenghty adoption process. The Haitian girl could not apply for asylum in order to stay in the US, even though she had no one in Haiti to take her in and Haiti has no places for homeless children and no way to deal with orphans, not to mention the oppression and poverty there.
posted by wiremommy at 2:50 PM on June 29, 2000

I dunno. I know Cuban residents suffer through some pretty bad poverty-- poverty that Popstar has probably seen firsthand --but I think that pinning that *entirely* on ol' Castro isn't quite fair. I mean it's hard to test the validity of Castro's economic policies when the country has basically been under economic attack from the US for, what, forty years?

People point to the economic ravages of the country as evidence of the failure of the leader, but it seems to me that doing so neglects pretty strikingly our own (the USA's) complicity in that country's ruination.

Same goes for the USSR, if you ask me. There's no way to judge how their economic policies might have played out if they hadn't gotten involved in a money-sucking pissing match with the USA. The particular failures of communism in this century do not "prove" anything. To say so is sketchy history and piss-poor science. Nobody's said so, per se, but when I hear "take a tour of Cuba and see what it's like for yourself," that's the underlying argument that I hear. *shrug*

And, baylink, all due respect, but I don't think your Siberia example demonstrates that communist countries are "nastier" than us. Looking at the numbers demonstrates that the US is the biggest "police state" that has ever existed. Don't make me start dragging out the prison / drug sweep statistics...

(He'll do it! He's crazy!)
posted by jbushnell at 8:13 PM on June 29, 2000

What I see isn't the Clinton administration "kowtowing" to Cuba, but opening a long-closed diplomatic door in preparation for the approaching day when Cuba is no longer Castroland. It's such a pissant thing when you have to make peace with your enemies, but hey, you don't make peace with your friends.
posted by dhartung at 8:34 PM on June 29, 2000

hmm, Fidel's not at the demo in Havana, but 300,000 others are. (and that's a stunning photo, if ever I saw one.)

He's such a consummate politician: Gore and Bush ought to take lessons.
posted by holgate at 4:14 PM on July 1, 2000

He wasn't at the demo rally cuz he didn't wanna get shot at. I doubt anyone's still reading this thread, which means it may be safe for me to chime in, without being flamed for my ignorance.

And I am ignorant regarding this issue. But so are we all. There are some very distinct questions which were never answered. We can only speculate. Why even speculate? Why even write a long diatribe that no one will read? I don't know. It just appears that we've been down a one way ticket to hell with Cuba for half a century. There's gotta be another way around this folks. The inevitable doesn't look pretty.

The bottom line about this whole Elian Gonzales thing is how it started. Why did a woman take her child and get on a raft which was not seaworthy? Why did she take that risk? We may never know the answer to that question, but there has been NO evidence brought forth to support that the reason she fled Cuba was because of Castro's tyrannical rule. Sounds to me like it was more of a domestic affair.

But in order to understand the response of the American government to this recent development, we have to look back a little farther. I think when the gov't first got wind of this whole thing, they thought maybe Elian's mother put both herself and her child at risk because of what is assumed about Cuba; that Castro's a tryant and she wanted a better place for her son to live in. When they learned it was basically a custody battle between divorced parents, Clinton's administration wanted nothing more than to send him back to his only living parent, where he does in fact belong.

By the time the Clinton administration got all the facts, it was too late. The media was on top of it. The Anti-Castro lobbying efforts of southern Floridia, which have been very active, vocal and occasionally effective in making change since the sixties, were like a pitbull on a ragdoll. Clinton had to insure everything was done by the book as best as possible. Any mistakes made on this would come back to haunt everyone involved for months and years to come.

They couldn't JUST give Elian over to his Dad. There were policies and procedures to follow, so after it was all over everyone on both sides could say everything that could be done, was done. The only reason why that Haitian girl didn't get the same treatment as Elian, is because Haiti doesn't have a vocal and influential pitbull in south Florida.

And a son goes back into the hands of his father. Happy ending. It's almost as if Hollywood wrote it.

But the story is not over. Castro will use this event to attack the very American laws which have economically crippled his country for forty years. He will continue to insure that his people hate us more than they hate him. We're the bad guys. America is the tyrant to many in Cuba. Anything bad happening in his country, Castro can just blame it on us. And in some cases he may actually be telling them the truth.

But why did we put the economic limitations on his country in the first place? Three words: Cuban Missle Crisis. When any country aims missiles at us, it takes awhile for us to warm up to them. And if Castro had unlimited access to world funds, don't tell me he'd use them to improve cuban roads or the living conditions of his own people. He'd buy some missiles and aim them at us again. And to be honest, after forty years of oppression, who could blame the guy?

We're not economically attacking Cuba because we're bad guys. We're doing it for the same reason people put security systems on their houses or get an attack dog. We can't trust our neighbors. We're protecting our own skins.

Personally, if Castro's government would do everything we require of any other country, I don't see why we can't drop all the sanctions, but I have a feeling Castro's not willing to play by the same rules with which America plays ball with say Canada, or Mexico. And he shouldn't get special treatment. I don't know what requirements America has internationally with other countries, but Cuba shouldn't get special treatment just because of Elian Gonzales.

If Castro chooses to play ball, we should drop all the economic limits on his country and let him swing at bat with the rest of them. If he's just gonna rant and rave like a crybaby until he gets his way, we should continue to treat him like the spoiled brat he is.

I don't personally have anything against Elian. Someone earlier in this thread said "fuck him." This wasn't Elian Gonzales' fault. All the millions of dollars spent on this whole thing; he didn't ask for it. I don't personally have anything against anybody involved in this whole thing. Even Castro. I'm glad this particular chapter of our ongoing feud with our neighbor to the south is over.

But it's one little happy ending between a boy and his father, after a score of near disasters and otherwise unhappy endings. We haven't seen the last of this, and contrary to popular belief, after Castro's dead, I doubt everything will suddenly turn for the better.

I'm sure Castro has thought ahead, and after his death there will at least be an incredible attempt to keep Communism alive in the island. Most people on that island will welcome it. They still think the poverty in their country is the fault of the Capitalist Pigs on the other side of the ocean. They think capitalism is decadent and depraved. We've turned the planet into a casino. Castro's followers don't want to see that happen to them.

Opposition may rise, and if it does, we Americans will have a front row seat to one hell of a civil war. No doubt our gov't will foolishly put its fingers in the pot. And we will get burned for it.

You thought Vietnam was bad? Just you wait. This particular story ain't over yet.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:03 PM on July 4, 2000

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