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 Battle for Elian reveals double standardsregarding persons of African descent

Special to USAfricaonline.comand USAfrica The Newspaper

If Republican congressman Dan Burton is sointerested in helping people in totalitarian states that havesuffered poverty, social and economic injustices; then let himreceive Haitian refugees who also make it to these precious Americanshores. Let the U.S., therefore, allow Liberians (in west Africa),whose country was the only American colony, come. After all, theyhave suffered atrocities in Africa that are unmentionable.

It has to be clear by now, even to the most dense of politicalbumpkins that the media circus surrounding the Little Havana home ofthe Miami relatives of the Cuban exile Elian Gonzales has nothing todo with him at all. The tug- of- war between his Cuban family inHavana and his Cuban-American family in Miami, over who will be hiscustodial guardian, is really all about the continuation of the fightand the struggle concerning the Cuban revolution of 1959. Second, itreflects the drama and politics of the continued harassment of theClinton administration policies, which are slowly moving toward thelifting of the Cuban embargo.

Looking back at history, in 1959 Fidel Castro wrestled power fromCuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, and declared Cuba a socialistrepublic. Many Cubans who desired a Democratic form of governmentleft Cuba and fled to Miami; consequentially America cut diplomaticrelations with Cuba and imposed an embargo that has lasted 40years.

The Miami family of little Elian Gonzales are part of the nowCuban-American community that lost the revolution and fled Cuba forAmerica. Defeated, frustrated and humiliated, they are now using hispersonal dilemma to bring attention to their disdain for Castro andtheir hatred of the Cuban Republic. They are blocking traffic,holding massive demonstrations, surrounding governmental buildingsand committing other acts of civil disobedience; while threatening todisobey orders of the president, attorney general and the Immigrationand Naturalization agency to send the six-year-old boy back to hisfather in Cuba.

It is clear that the Cuban-American community in Miami, with thehelp of some powerful conservative republican leaders, is attemptingto usurp the power of the American legal system. What's mostappalling is that they are playing openingly with the emotions ofthis little boy for their own benefits. They have virtually kidnappedthis little boy and are now trying to hold the U.S. governmenthostage, by disregarding the office of the American attorney generaland the rule of law.

The Clinton administration is trying to be cautious, patient andunderstanding. It is aware that probably millions of Cuban votes,which possibly could have gone to vice president Gore in the upcomingpresidential election will now go to the Republicans. It is alsoaware that what was a warming of relationships with Cuba is nowstrained. While I sympathize with the Clinton administrationıspolitical dilemma; it must not allow a community of disgruntledrebels to detour it from doing the right and moral thing.

Yes, this little boyıs mother was attempting to come to Americawhen she, unfortunately, drowned, but it was without the knowledge ofthe father or his consent. In terms of common law, she kidnapped thekid.Does the father want his son back? You bet your sweet life hedoes. And, by all accounts, he's not only a darn good father, but heis able to take care of his son. What does the little boy want? Well,he's only six years old. All that a six-year-old wants is toys,puppies, cookies and his parents. That's why at that age we usuallyhave parents who make decisions for us. Not only is it common law andcommon practice; it just makes common sense.

Is Cuba a socialistic country? Sure it is, but you don't go aroundbreaking up families just because their political ideology isdifferent from yours. It's obvious these countries are not treatedequally. Hence, I make bold to say that if this kid had been Chinese,he would have long been back in China where he belonged. No questionsasked.

Over the last forty years, and I might add to no avail, they havefought furiously to bring down the Castro regime. Some of the tacticsthat they have employed to accomplish this includes influencing theU.S. government through various lobbying groups, and the politicaldomination of the Miami area through the electoral process. SomeCuban-American activists have gone as far as trying paramilitaryinvasion; as well as assisting in countless illegal smuggling ofCubans across the dangerous straits of the Caribbean Sea to America.They have even been accused of complicity in assassination attemptsagainst Castro.

They have elicited the dubious help of representative Dan Burtonof Illinois. You remember him don't you? He is the Republicancongressman who called President Clinton "a scum bag" during theimpeachment hearing. Burton, in an obvious unprecedented partisanpolitical move, halted the return of the boy to his father by issuinga subponea for the child to appear before the House committee ongovernment reform; which he happens to chair. His sudden involvementnot only smacks of political-high jacking, but it is also a blatantmisuse of committee power.

Burton's involvement; along with that of former independentRepublican presidential candidate, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshireand that of Senate Republican leader Trent Lott raises even moreconcern that this issue is not about the custody of this little boy.It really has become another opportunity by Republican conservativesto continue the embarrassment and harassment of the Clintonadministration.

It is Clinton's policy of sending escaped Cuban refugees back toCuba that they find to be un-American. The hypocrisy of their stanceis that they couldn't care less about Haitian refugees who alsoregularly make life risking escape attempts across the dangerousCaribbean. The Republican congressional leadership involvement,commensurate with a controversial Florida family court decision byMiami Judge Rosa Rodriguez, that allowed for Elian's Miamigreat-uncle to be made temporary guardian over him, until a courthearing later this winter; raises even more the issues of thepoliticization of this matter. Even the judge's relationship tocertain principals in this case are questionable and open tosuspect.

Not only must little Elian be reunited with his father in Cuba,but we must continue to work toward the easing of the embargo againstthe Cuban people. And, the politicians in the U.S. must stop theirimmoral practice of selective human rights.

Dr.Sanders, a Suffragan Bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of theworld, is the founder and the pastor of the Emmanuel Temple church inSandusky, Ohio. He holds a Ph.D in American Culture Studies and hasserved in many leadership capacities in the organization that includenational evangelist, international youth leader and missionary toWest Africa. He also serves contributingeditor,USAfrica The Newspaper, The Black Business Journal, responsewill be published.

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