|Friday, March 31, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 123
Melançon on Smog
Ed De La Garza
Have we lost our minds?
Generally, you look to city leaders to do one thing -- lead. Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, however, isn't doing that.
The federal government on Wednesday extended by one day its final decision on the plight of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. His family has until 9 a.m. today to agree to give up its right to the boy, should it lose its fight to keep him on American soil.
Penelas if predicted violence in Miami, the family is forced to hand the boy over to his father -- and more importantly, back to Cuba and Fidel Castro. Not only that, but Penelas also stated that he would not guarantee the Miami police would help federal authorities in keeping the peace, should rioting actually take place.
He also said any violence would be on Attorney General Janet Reno's head, not his. That's not exactly the most responsible way for the mayor of a large American city to behave, is it?
The "plight" has gone on long enough. Each side continues to argue that it's only interested in what's best for Gonzalez. His family wants him as far away from Castro as possible. It wants him to live in the best possible setting. It's only doing what the boy's mother would have wanted. Gonzalez' father wants him back because ... he's his father. That's all there is to it.
Yes, Elian would have a better life in the United States. Yes, Castro is an oppressive leader. Yes, the boy looks cute doing handstands while his American relatives look on. But it's not about what we perceive to be right.
Elian never made it to Florida. He was recovered in international waters. By law, he must be returned to Cuba. End of story.
It's not fair to "Americanize" Elian before a final decision has been made. It's not fair to parade him in front of cameras and supporters. It's not fair to use a 6-year-old boy as an example of how harsh Cuban life really is. It's not fair to use Elian to argue the United States is filled with hypocrites.
Elian's relatives (both those in Cuba and America) obviously love the boy. They've fought long and hard over his well-being. It just so happens that Elian's American family has pop culture and the media behind it. Let's put it this way: Were it the other way around -- if the estranged father lived in the United States and he was keeping Elian from returning to Cuba -- would there even be an argument? Probably not.