Miami's mayor: No Aid to Help Feds in Showdown With Elian's Relatives : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread


Mar 29, 2000 - 07:37 PM

Mayor: No Aid to Help Feds in Showdown With Elian's Relatives

By Alex Veiga

Associated Press Writer

MIAMI (AP) - With Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives and the government still at an impasse and a Thursday morning deadline looming, the mayor declared he will not let the police help federal officials remove the boy from his home.

In Cuba, meanwhile, Fidel Castro said Elian Gonalez's father is ready to travel to the United States to pick up his son.

Lazaro Gonzalez, the Miami uncle Elian has been staying with, has said he would be willing to release the boy to his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, if the father personally came from Cuba to pick him up.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas said his officers would keep the public order. "They will enforce the law should illegal demonstrations or protests take place," he said Wednesday.

He and the mayors of 22 nearby towns also warned they would hold President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno responsible for any violence that breaks out if immigration officials try to return the 6-year-old boy to his father in Cuba.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has demanded that Elian's Miami relatives promise in writing to hand the boy over if they lose their court battle to keep him in this country. The INS has warned it will revoke the boy's temporary permission to stay in the United States at 9 a.m. Thursday if the relatives do not sign by then.

On Wednesday afternoon, immigration officials met with the boy's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, in an attempt to try to break the impasse and win the desired promise.

But just before the meeting got under way, the family's lawyer, Kendall Coffey, said: "We are not going to sign what we consider to be a blank check that could have a psychological effect on the child."

If the family misses the deadline, the INS will tell the uncle how and when he is to relinquish custody of Elian, said INS spokeswoman Maria Cardona in Washington.

Cardona would not say exactly what timetable Lazaro Gonzalez would be given, but said that the INS will probably not call for Elian's turnover immediately, or even later on Thursday. Officials would not say whether they would pick up Elian or ask the uncle to deliver him somewhere.

"These are people we believe care about the child and who have said they are law-abiding members of the community. We expect them to obey the law," Justice spokeswoman Carole Florman said.

The mayor, who is of Cuban descent, said: "We will not lend our respective resources, whether they be in the form of police officers or any other resources, to assist the federal government in any way, shape or form to inappropriately repatriate Elian Gonzalez to Cuba.

"If their continued provocation, in the form of unjustified threats to revoke the boy's parole, leads to civil unrest and violence, we are holding the federal government responsible, and specifically Janet Reno and the president of the United States, for anything that may occur in this community."

About 60 trucks were driven in a traffic protest in Miami's Little Havana on Wednesday, surrounding the blocks near the home where Elian has been staying since he was rescued from the sea in November.

Some of the demonstrators who have gathered outside the home in the past few days have talked of forming a human chain and laying down their lives to prevent the little boy from being taken away.

Oscar Pupo, 56, a Cuban-born U.S. citizen and trucker, predicted there would be more than 1,000 trucks on Thursday.

"The federal authorities of INS need to understand that we are free and this is a country of laws and we are not going to accept their stubborness. We are not going to allow them to take the kid," Pupo said.

The INS has said it would not do anything that would traumatize the boy. INS spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar said her agency has "gone to great lengths to bring about a resolution that is carried out in a manner that creates as little disruption for Elian as possible."

The U.S. relatives have asked a federal appeals court in Atlanta to overturn a federal judge's ruling affirming an INS decision to send Elian back to Cuba. The court has scheduled arguments for the week of May 8.

In a news conference at the White House, the president said: "I have done my best not to overly politicize this. And I don't think we should. There is a legal process here; we ought to let it play out."

He said that everyone should then abide by the court ruling.

On Wednesday evening, Elian was playing in the yard with other children on a swing set as news helicopters flew overhead, and about 250 protesters stood outside his home. A prayer vigil was planned nearby, and the trucks that had blocked streets earlier moved away.

In Washington, a group of U.S. lawmakers seeking to block the deportation of the child introduced legislation Wednesday to confer permanent American residency status on Elian and nearly all his Cuban relatives. But even supporters of the measure - written by Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. - suggested its chances of being enacted seemed slight.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Cabinet adopted a resolution Wednesday asking the U.S. government to allow the appeals process to continue. In a letter, Bush also urged Reno and Clinton to instruct the INS to remove the pledge requirement.

Lazaro Gonzalez said he would not deliver the boy to the INS.

"The boy lives in my house and they'll have to go find him there," he told Spanish-language network Telemundo.

ABC, meanwhile, aired footage of the boy saying he didn't want to be sent to Cuba. On "Good Morning America," Elian said in Spanish that he didn't want his father to visit him in Miami "because he'll take me to Cuba and I don't want to go to Cuba."

Asked if he would like it if his father stayed in Miami, he answered: "He can stay here. I don't want to go."

-- (, March 30, 2000

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