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Jewish World Review May 8, 2000 / 3 Iyar, 5760

Cal Thomas

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Profiting from Elian Gonzalez --
THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE for helping Elian Gonzalez get his mind right are faced with a formidable task. They're having to convince him that poverty and loss of freedom in Cuba are preferable to what he has experienced in America. That may be hard to do in his present ritzy plantation environment. But those mind controllers are good at convincing people that war is peace and good is bad.

Things must be getting close to completion. Janet Reno went on the Oprah Winfrey show to commune with the people who watch it about the importance of a son being with his father. The robotic applause from the audience reveals that these people are unaware, or don't care, that little Elian won't be with his father when he returns to Cuba, but will be the property of the state to be used however Castro wishes.

Greg Craig, who some say violates legal ethics by claiming to represent both Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his son, now wants the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the political asylum claims filed on behalf of Elian by his Miami relatives. Craig brazenly asserts that Juan Miguel "knows not only that his child has no fear, but also that he could not express the fears contemplated by U.S. immigration law in any event.'' Elian seemed to be expressing fear in that infamous picture of his being confronted by a well-armed Border Patrol officer. But this is familiar Clintonian language. Elian has no fear, but even if he does, it's irrelevant because others who have their own agendas will speak for him.

Only his current captors know for sure what is happening to the child, whose pictorial image has been controlled by Craig.

Who stands to benefit if Fidel Castro is handed a huge propaganda victory with the repatriation of Elian and his father to Cuba? One beneficiary would seem to be Dwayne Andreas, former chairman of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), one of the world's largest agribusiness companies. Thom White Wolf Fassett, the head of the United Methodist Church lobbying office in Washington, says Andreas recruited Craig to represent Juan Miguel. As Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy writes, Fassett is a longtime advocate of normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations.

Fassett flew to Cuba in March with Joan Brown Campbell, former head of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and a Castro apologist. On his return, Fassett's agency, says Tooley, created a Humanitarian Advocacy Fund to raise money for legal fees associated with Juan Miguel Gonzalez' attempts to reclaim his son. The initial goal was to raise between $50,000 and $100,000. Fassett promised that no church money would go to the fund. After protests from within the church, the money was transferred to the NCC.

The fund quickly raised $50,000 and may have more in it by now. Where did the money come from and how did Craig come to be selected? The Board of Church and Society won't say, writes Tooley. But the Shareholders Watch Committee, a small group of disgruntled ADM stockholders, alleges that ADM and Dwayne Andreas were instrumental in retaining Craig. The committee also alleges that Andreas donated $10,000 to the United Methodist Humanitarian Advocacy Fund, which ADM denies.

Whether the charge is true, Craig's law firm, Williams and Connally, does legal work for ADM. The president of the National Council of Churches, former Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, serves on ADM's board. Andreas is a major contributor to Florida's Barry University, where Elian's meeting with his visiting grandmothers took place. Andreas' wife formerly chaired the school's board of trustees.

These cozy relations could lead to big business for ADM in Cuba if sanctions are ended. Andreas, along with Campbell, Fassett and dozens of other church leaders, met with Castro in New York five years ago to discuss strategies for ending trade sanctions against Cuba. And couldn't President Clinton -- who, it is speculated, wants to lift these sanctions as part of his presidential legacy -- end up with some sort of sweet deal in his post-White House years from those American companies salivating to do business in Cuba?

As usual with this administration, there's more than meets the eye. The tragedy is that a 6-year-old has become a pawn in the duplicity of men and nations. For his bravery and that of his mother, who gave her life that he might be free, Elian deserves better.

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