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Abducting children for their own good is an American habit perfected by 19th century missionaries

Elian's Dad: GUILTY
of Parenting While Cuban

by Toby Eglund

FEBRUARY 6, 2000. The pain of Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who awaits the return of his son, 6-year old Elian, is an agony familiar to anyone who's ever lost a child from institutionalized hatred--racism, homophobia, bigotry--from politics, or from death.

Abducting children for their own good is an American habit perfected by 19th century missionaries who removed children from their Native American families and forcibly stripped them of their language, culture, and religion.

Nowadays, good fathers and good mothers lose custody or are refused visitation rights because they are poor or gay or powerless or political or just because they're men.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez' crime is being Cuban. And a father.

(elian's father)

Because of this, and the extraordinary power and resources of anti-Castro Cuban-American lobbyists, he may never see his son again. You can see Juan Miguel deteriorating from grief and anger day by day.

If he's such a good father, you ask, why doesn't he go to Miami and claim Elian?

Picture U.S. race relations in the 1940's, and imagine asking a black man from the North to face down a Birmingham judge. Physical violence is not out of the question. And as to justice...

The rabid anti-Castro Cuban lobby owns Miami, and the judges, and the cops. And U.S. Senators. And Representatives. Even the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno, has personally given free legal advice to the lawyers trying to keep Elian in the U.S.

Apparently those folks even have God on their side. The supposedly neutral nun, Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, who hosted the meeting between Elian and his Cuban grandmothers, is now calling Elian's affection for his female cousin a "sacred bond".

The right female equipment, and a desperately smiling 6-year-old in her lap, Marisleysis Gonzalez is suddenly Mary mother-of-god. It means nothing that Juan Miguel Gonzalez is Elian's father, his only surviving parent, and Elian's primary caretaker in Cuba. He read to him, sang lullabies. Josephs, I guess, are still chopped liver.

In an attempt to change that fact, an organization of fathers, the National Congress for Fathers and Children, has undertaken to file a Habeas Corpus Petition with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Elian's return.

And is it really so bad to be Cuban? So terrible to actually want to stay in the country of your birth?

Even if living under Castro were, as some declare, an unmitigated hell, would we then have the right to play God and snatch this boy from his father in contradiction to all U.S. law, international law, and frankly, moral law?

Absolutely not.

The damaging consequences of what is technically called child abduction still outweigh any possible benefit the more affluent U.S. could possibly bestow on 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. Not to mention the terrible international implications it has for the 1,100 of the estimated 10,000 abducted U.S. children held abroad that parents are still trying to bring home.

Act now. Reunite Elian with his father and family in Cuba. It's a matter of human decency.

Related links:

For fathers supporting Elian's Dad.

For Congresspeople putting politics ahead of human decency, search the Miami Herald's thorough but pay-per-view archive for Exile Group Forges Ironic Alliances by Karen Branch.

For Cindy Loose's story Elian's Plight May Impact International Custody Cases search the Washington Post archive.

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