HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » 20 Years Ago Today; 5 yr ...

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 07:29 AM

20 Years Ago Today; 5 yr old Elian Gonzalez rescued by fishermen off FL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eli%C3%A1n_Gonz%C3%A1lez



Elián González (born December 6, 1993) is a Cuban citizen who, as a young boy in 2000, became embroiled in a heated international custody and immigration controversy involving the governments of Cuba and the United States; his father, Juan Miguel González Quintana; his other relatives in Cuba and in Miami, Florida; and Miami's Cuban American community.

González's mother, Elizabeth Brotons Rodríguez, drowned in November 1999 while attempting to leave Cuba with González and her boyfriend to get to the United States. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initially placed González with paternal relatives in Miami, who sought to keep him in the United States against his father's demands that González be returned to Cuba.

A United States district court ruling from the Southern District of Florida that only González's father, and not his extended relatives, could petition for asylum on the boy's behalf was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, federal agents, by order of U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, took González from the paternal relatives at gunpoint and returned him to his father in Cuba in June 2000.

Many Cubans had left Cuba for the United States since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. This emigration was illegal under both Cuban and U.S. laws; e.g., any Cuban found at sea attempting to reach U.S. shores could be deported by the United States or be arrested by Cuban authorities. At the time, U.S. policy had evolved into a so-called "wet feet, dry feet" rule. If a Cuban was picked up at sea or walking toward shore, they were repatriated unless they could make a claim of asylum. If they made it to shore (or entered through Mexico) before encountering U.S. authorities, they were generally allowed to remain in the country.

<snip>

Early life, journey to U.S. and custody battle


The journey from Cárdenas, Cuba to Florida.

Elián González was born December 6, 1993 to divorced parents. On November 21, 1999, González, his mother Elizabeth Brotons Rodríguez, and twelve others left Cuba on a small aluminum boat with a faulty engine; González's mother and ten others died in the crossing. González and the other two survivors floated at sea until they were rescued by two fishermen, who handed them over to the U.S. Coast Guard.

González's cousin Marisleysis said González told her the motor had broken on the boat and its passengers had tried in vain to bail out the water with nylon bags, but a storm doomed their efforts. He told her he tried to help get the water out and his mother's boyfriend placed him in an inner tube for safety. "He said afterwards that he fell asleep and that when he woke up he never saw his mother again". He said, "I think she drowned too because she didn't know how to swim".

Nivaldo Fernández Ferran, one of the three survivors on the boat, said "Elizabeth protected her son to the end". According to Ferran, they set out on their trip at 4 am, dragging inflated rubber floats, or inner tubes, in case they needed them. As they encountered bad weather, the boat's engine failed and the craft began to fill with water. After it went under, the passengers clung to the inner tubes in cold water, with waves reaching heights of three to four meters (10 to 13 feet).

Afterwards, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released González to his paternal great-uncle, Lázaro. According to the Washington Post, González's father, Juan Miguel González Quintana, had telephoned Lázaro from Cuba on November 22, 1999, to advise that González and his mother had left Cuba without Juan Miguel's knowledge, and to watch for their arrival.

Lázaro González, backed by local Cuban Americans, took the position that the boy should remain in the United States and not be returned to his father. Marisleysis González (Lázaro's adult daughter) became Elián González's caretaker and spokesperson for the paternal relatives. Also, Armando Gutierrez, a local Cuban American businessman, became a spokesman.[citation needed] At the same time, Juan Miguel, with the support of Cuban authorities, demanded that his son be returned to Cuba.

On January 21, 2000, Elián González's grandmothers, Mariela Quintana and Raquel Rodríguez, flew from Havana to the United States to seek their grandson's return to Cuba. While they were able to meet with the boy only once at the Miami Beach home of Barry University president Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, they journeyed to Washington and met with congressmen and Attorney General Janet Reno. After nine days of media coverage (during which Republican lawmakers acknowledged they did not have the votes to pass a bill to give González U.S. citizenship), they returned to Cuba to "a hero's welcome".

On January 28, the Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes called for the boy's return to Cuba, stating that international law dictated the return. Meanwhile, the Miami Gonzálezes denied allegations that they had offered Juan Miguel a house and a car if he abandoned the action and joined his son in Miami. Juan Miguel was uninterested in emigrating.

Through January and February, Juan Miguel sent a number of open letters to the U.S. Government—published in, among other places, the Cuban newspaper Granma—demanding the return of his son and refusing the Miami relatives' demands.

Chicago-based fathers' rights attorney Jeffery M. Leving spearheaded the amicus brief, which set the foundation of the custody case to reunite González with his father in Cuba. Manuel González, Elián Gonzalez's great uncle, later retained Leving to reunite González with his father.

On March 21, Judge Kevin Michael Moore of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the relatives' petition for asylum which they had filed on behalf of Elián González. Lázaro vowed to appeal. On March 29, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas was joined by 22 other civic leaders in a speech in downtown Miami. Penelas indicated that the municipality would not cooperate with Federal authorities on any repatriation of the boy, and would not lend police assets or any other assistance in taking the boy.

On April 14, a video was released in which Elián González tells Juan Miguel that he wants to stay in the United States.[citation needed] However, many thought that he had been coached, as a male voice was heard off-camera directing the young boy.[citation needed] In a September 2005 interview with 60 Minutes after being sent back to Cuba, González stated that during his stay in the U.S., his family members were "telling me bad things about [my father]", and "were also telling me to tell him that I did not want to go back to Cuba, and I always told them I wanted to."

Elián González remained a subject of media attention as he went to Walt Disney World Resort one day, then met with politicians the next. Throughout the custody battle, opinion polls showed that a majority of Americans believed González should be returned to his father in Cuba, and that doing so was in the boy's best interest. On April 19, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that González had to remain in the U.S. until the Miami Gonzálezes could appeal for an asylum hearing in May.

Taken by federal authorities


Federal agent Jim Goldman (Assistant District Director, Investigations – Miami District INS) retrieves Elián from his relatives' home in Miami. This photo won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.

Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the return of Elián González to his father and set a deadline of April 13, 2000, but the Miami relatives defied the order. Negotiations continued for several days as the house was surrounded by protesters as well as police. The relatives insisted on guarantees that they could live with the child for several months and retain custody, and that González would not be returned to Cuba. Negotiations carried on throughout the night, but Reno claimed that the relatives rejected all workable solutions.

A Florida family court judge revoked Lázaro's temporary custody, clearing the way for González to be returned to his father's custody. On April 20, Reno made the decision to remove González from the house and instructed law enforcement officials to determine the best time to obtain the boy. After being informed of the decision, Marisleysis said to a Justice Department community relations officer, "You think we just have cameras in the house? If people try to come in, they could be hurt."

In the pre-dawn hours of Easter Eve, April 22, agents of the Border Patrol's special BORTAC unit as part of an operation in which more than 130 INS personnel took part approached the house, knocked on the door, and identified themselves. When no one responded, they entered. At the same time, pepper-spray and mace were employed against persons outside who attempted to interfere. In the confusion, Armando Gutierrez called in Alan Diaz, of the Associated Press, to enter the house and entered a room with González, his great uncle's wife Angela Lázaro, her niece, the niece's young son, and Donato Dalrymple (one of the two men who had rescued him from the ocean). They waited in the room listening to agents searching the house. Diaz took a widely publicized photograph of a border patrol agent confronting Dalrymple and the boy.

INS also stated in the days after the raid that they had identified as many as two dozen persons who were "prepared to thwart any government operation", some of whom had concealed weapons while others had criminal records.

Approximately 100 people protested against the raid as it took place, with some calling the INS agents "assassins".

Public opinion about the INS raid on the Miami González's house was widely polarized. There were two major focuses in media coverage of the event: the raid and the family reunions.[28] A Time magazine issue showed a photo of a joyful González being reunited with his father (the caption says "Papa!" ), while Newsweek ran an issue that focused on the raid, entitled "Seizing Elián".

Return to father's custody


Elián González poses with his father, stepmother and half-brother in a photo taken a few hours after their reunion at Andrews Air Force Base.

Four hours after he was taken from the house in Miami, González and his father were reunited at Andrews Air Force Base. The next day, the White House released a photograph showing a smiling González reunited with his father, which the Miami relatives disputed by claiming that it was a fake González in the photograph. Later, González and his family were taken to the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Center (formerly known as "Wye Plantation" ). The media were barred from access to the family.

While the family was still at Andrews, New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith, escorting the Miami González relatives, was turned away from the base by guards. The May 5, 2000, Miami Herald reported that González was joined by his classmates (without their parents) and his teacher from his hometown, Cárdenas. Granma released pictures of Elián in the Young Pioneer uniform of Cuba's Communist youth league. On May 6, 2000, attorney Greg Craig took González and Juan Miguel to a dinner in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., hosted by Smith and Elizabeth Bagley.

After González was returned to his father's custody, he remained in the U.S. while the Miami relatives exhausted their legal options. A three-judge federal panel had ruled that he could not go back to Cuba until he was granted an asylum hearing, but the case turned on the right of the relatives to request that hearing on behalf of the boy. On June 1, 2000, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Elián was too young to file for asylum; only his father could speak for him, and the relatives lacked legal standing. On June 28, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision. Later the same day, seven months and one week after Elián González left Cuba, he and his family returned there.

<snip>

Later years


Elian today

In 2015, González was studying to be an industrial engineer, and hoped to marry his high school sweetheart and fiancée, after finishing college. He stated that although he did not regret returning to Cuba, he would like to travel to the United States one day "to give my love to the American people". In July 2016, he received a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Matanzas, and read a letter to Fidel Castro from his graduating class, vowing "to fight from whatever trench the revolution demands".

After graduating in 2016, González began working as a technology specialist at a state-run company that makes large plastic water tanks.

</snip>




Such a peculiar incident - glad he's doing fine now!

24 replies, 853 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply 20 Years Ago Today; 5 yr old Elian Gonzalez rescued by fishermen off FL (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Nov 25 OP
nini Nov 25 #1
jberryhill Nov 25 #2
nini Nov 25 #6
Mike 03 Nov 25 #3
bluedye33139 Nov 25 #4
Archae Nov 25 #5
StarfishSaver Nov 25 #7
NCLefty Nov 26 #18
JHB Nov 26 #21
Arazi Nov 25 #8
alphafemale Nov 25 #9
jberryhill Nov 25 #14
jberryhill Nov 25 #11
Polybius Nov 26 #19
grantcart Nov 25 #10
jberryhill Nov 25 #13
grantcart Nov 25 #16
Skittles Nov 25 #12
Scurrilous Nov 25 #15
Ron Green Nov 26 #17
StarfishSaver Nov 26 #22
jberryhill Nov 26 #23
StarfishSaver Nov 26 #24
malaise Nov 26 #20

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 07:51 AM

1. That was a mess and a half

Those relatives were something else.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to nini (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 07:58 AM

2. His father showed remarkable patience


I would have been beside myself if my child was in the hands of those idiots in Florida.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to jberryhill (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 08:44 PM

6. No kidding.. I don't know if I could have kept my wits about me

I'm guessing he'd probably dealt with them before in the same way.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 08:10 AM

3. This was a big story at the time.

I remember this is when Dennis Prager began to get into trouble. He said three amazingly stupid things in a very short period of time:
1. Smoking doesn't cause lung cancer. 2. Young women become anorexic because their parents don't love them enough. 3. Elian Gonzalez's father "looks evil." He apologized (at least to me in an email) for #2. He got tremendous pushback for #3, which he denied. He said "That doesn't sound like something I would ever say." He probably had to apologize for it eventually because so many listeners heard him say it and would call up and insist he did in fact say it.

A lot of people in Los Angeles who listened to KABC radio witnessed this true "coming out" of Dennis Prager over the Elian Gonzalez incident. He eventually left the mainstream and ended up on syndicated nutjob radio stations. He survived on KABC for so long because he'd mastered this pseudo-intellectual reasonableness.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 09:03 AM

4. I was in South Beach that morning

I had a job working as a night auditor in a posh hotel on Ocean Drive. My manager had come in after clubbing with friends, and he was having a gin and tonic while we gossiped about our co-workers. We had the news on. It was mind-blowing, as the city had been on the verge of riots for several days. By this point, people had begun to see apparitions of the virgin in steam patterns on windows! The helicopter pad was one mile from the hotel.

We used to joke that his father's handsomeness was the factor that had changed the entire public response.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 09:47 AM

5. That infamous photo of the INS agent and Elian proved one thing to be fake...

The Miami relatives the next day gave a "tour" of the house, and the bedroom door, (visible behind the agent,) had been broken down and smashed in half.
But in the photo, it was intact.

The Miami relatives STILL are grifting on Elian, this is why they lost 20 years ago.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 09:14 PM

7. And conservatives fought like hell to keep Elian from being sent back to his home country

What a difference 20 years make.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to StarfishSaver (Reply #7)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 02:48 AM

18. They will use any ethnicity temporarily--if it aids their larger goals.

They only Cubans they like now are the ones that can vote for them in Florida.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to StarfishSaver (Reply #7)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 04:59 AM

21. No difference, really. They were demonizing Democrats in office.

Spinning what was happening to whip their base into a fervor about what America-hating traitors Democrats were in advance of the 2000 elections.

Their base then, their base now, even if it gets called "Trump's base".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 09:24 PM

8. One overlooked detail, his mother died trying to get him to the US and out of Cuba

I always found it heartbreaking that HER wishes for her son were never expressed. She wanted him in the US and died trying to get him there.

That's not nothing

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Arazi (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 09:40 PM

9. She had disrespected the wishes of his father

He is still the surviving parent who put the child's life at risk and kidnapped him.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alphafemale (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:07 PM

14. GMTA

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Arazi (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:03 PM

11. We do not generally allow divorced parents to abscond with children

When this happens, we issue Amber Alerts and we have such parents arrested and criminally prosecuted. We do not “respect their wishes”.

No, the dead mom’s wishes do not somehow outweigh the father’s. Had she been alive, they would be a slightly different story, but not by much, having endangered the life of the child.

But there are no civilized systems of law which will deny custody of a child to a competent living parent, against the wishes of a dead parent whose choices nearly killed the child in question.

Again, if this were a dispute within our borders, we would not blink for as long as it would take to remove the child from the custody of that irresponsible and dangerous mother - even if she had lived.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Arazi (Reply #8)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 04:23 AM

19. Very true

His father was and still remains pro-Castro.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 10:06 PM

10. Unfortunately Elian's story and they myths that followed obscured a critical international principle

My ex wife took my oldest daughter against the legal agreement we had to the United States while I had custody of her overseas and I had to learn the international law the hard way.

The whole principle of which court has jurisdiction in a case where a child has been taken across a jurisdictional line grew out of an explosion of cases where parents in the US began to take children across state lines in order to try and get a more favourable court to contest custody cases in the 70s.

Eventually the principle was established that the court of jurisdiction would be the state that provided the habitual residence 6 months before the child was taken.

The whole idea was to stop child abductions by parents trying to improve their chances of custody.

In the 80s a similar problem occurred with foreign nationals taking American children back to their home countries to avoid custody orders in the US.

This led to the United States creating the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction which can be studied here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hague_Convention_on_the_Civil_Aspects_of_International_Child_Abduction

the key points are:



The convention does not alter any substantive rights. The convention requires that a court in which a Hague Convention action is filed should not consider the merits of any underlying child custody dispute, but should determine only that country in which those issues should be heard. Return of the child is to the member country rather than specifically to the left-behind parent.

The convention requires the return of a child who was a "habitual resident" in a contracting party immediately before an action that constitutes a breach of custody or access rights.[3] The convention provides that all contracting states, as well as any judicial and administrative bodies of those contracting states, "shall act expeditiously in all proceedings seeking the return of a children" and that those institutions shall use the most expeditious procedures available to the end that final decision be made within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings.[4]



The key issue is that children should be returned to the country they were abducted from and that court would have jurisdiction on child custody issues. As the US has a lot more children being abducted from the country it has strictly enforced the return to habitual country principle for any cases here and applied pressure to have children taken from the US returned here for rulings by state courts.

An interesting by product of the treaty is that custody agreements made by courts outside the US will be enforced by US courts even if the agreements are not in concert with US guidelines.

Those who wanted Elian kept here did not understand that a key international principle was at stake, namely that the court of jurisdiction for contested custodial claims should be the court where the child was living before being taken from the home. To argue that Elian should have been allowed to stay here but all American children should be returned to the US displays a particular imperialistic view of international law; that the principle of the law should only be applied when it benefits us.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to grantcart (Reply #10)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:06 PM

13. Yep


Boggles the mind that people would believe a child custody dispute on these facts would or should have any different outcome. Those Florida nutjobbers were kidnappers and mom endangered that child’s life.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to jberryhill (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:41 PM

16. And by trying to force an emotional decision they were

Undermining hundreds of legitimate cases by US citizens in dozens of countries.

I was never a fan of Castro but the anti Castro hysteria was very destructive.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:05 PM

12. they made the right decision

you don't take a child away from a fit and loving parent

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 11:16 PM

15. Those were fun times in So. Florida.

The day he was rescued from the nutjob relatives there were crazies on every corner waving Cuban flags and shouting vague threats about shutting Miami down.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Scurrilous (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 02:11 AM

17. I always thought The Miami Relatives

would be a good band name.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Scurrilous (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 08:41 AM

22. I remember Maxine Waters challenging those who insisted that Elian's Miami relatives

Uncle Lazaro and cousin Marisleysis, who'd become media celebrities, would be better parents to Elian than his own father. She said something along the lines of "Elian's father is a loving, hard-working man. Do these people even have jobs? All I ever see is Marisleysis crying on television and Lazaro strutting around in the front yard in his undershirt with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to StarfishSaver (Reply #22)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 08:50 AM

23. Lol

This jagoff...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to jberryhill (Reply #23)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 08:54 AM

24. Yes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Tue Nov 26, 2019, 04:38 AM

20. ReTHUGs have been kidnapping children for a long time

I'll never for that madness

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread