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Jewish World Review April 24, 2000 / 19 Nissan, 5760

Thomas Sowell

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An obscene charade -- NOW THAT THE 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that little Elian Gonzalez has the right to apply for asylum in the United States, the Clinton administration seems poised to prevent this from happening, at all cost, having seized the child and putting him under the control of the Cuban government's representatives in the United States, just like his father.

This will write the last and most shameful chapter in an obscene charade that has been going on for months.

Despite all sorts of debates in the media about the rights of the father versus the best interests of the child or other considerations, the clear number one priority of both the Castro government and the Clinton administration from day one has been to prevent the free expression of both the father's desires and the son's desires. That is what makes this whole debate and all the legal maneuvers a charade.

Those who believe that the father, Juan Gonzalez, is expressing his own desires, rather than the dictates of the Castro regime, must confront some painful questions. First of all, in the midst of all the current expressions of urgency about the need to reunite father and son, we need to ask why months went by before Juan Gonzalez showed up to reclaim his son.

Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, a nun and a university president, who has provided a neutral meeting place for both sides in this controversy, asked the key question: "What, if not fear, could keep a person from making a 30-minute trip to reclaim his son?"

Although initially in favor of returning Elian to his family in Cuba, Sister Jeanne changed her mind after seeing the grandmothers in her home. She said that she has known fear herself, as a result of having been mugged twice and having been stricken with cancer, but she had never seen the kind of fear she saw in those grandmothers. That was when she realized that the shots are being called by Castro, not by the family in Cuba.

The second question that must be confronted is: Why has the Gonzalez family in Cuba never been allowed to come to the United States together? The grandmothers have been allowed to come while the father remained behind and the father has been allowed to come while the grandmothers remained behind, along with the father's other young son. But none has been allowed to leave without other family members being held back as hostages.

After decades of seeing how totalitarian regimes operate, how can anyone shut his eyes to such things?

Worst of all has been the Clinton administration's collaboration with Castro in creating the illusion of free choice by Juan Gonzalez. First they sent American immigration officials to interview him -- inside Cuba. Next they arranged for the grandmothers to come here -- under the supervision of Cuban government officials. Finally, they arranged for Juan Gonzalez to come here -- and stay in a Cuban official's residence.

Our government in action
Now they are preparing to put little Elian Gonzalez under the control of Cuban officials in the United States as well. At this stage of the game, neither the Castro regime nor the Clinton administration can afford to allow this boy to express himself freely in an American court determining his custody.

Elian has to be reprogrammed -- and Communist regimes are experts at that. Look for him to change his story completely by the time he appears in court, if he isn't taken back to Havana before then. Despite Janet Reno's sermonettes about "the rule of law," it is precisely the law that will be prevented from taking its course by seizing Elian now, before he can testify freely.

It would be a political disaster of the first magnitude -- for both Castro and Clinton -- to allow either father or son to freely express their own desires and choose to stay in America. No Communist regime can afford to let the truth about itself come out. Aleksandr Solhzenitsyn's revelations about the Soviet gulags were an epoch-making international political disaster for the USSR. What the Cuban Gonzalez family could say and do, if free of threats, could be similarly disastrous for Castro and set back years of efforts to establish full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.

After the Clinton administration's collaboration with Castro in creating the charade of father's rights, they also stand to lose big if the fraudulence of what they have been saying and doing all this time comes to light. That is why a little boy whose mother died trying to get him to freedom will be sent back to tyranny.

JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate