Little Elian – Attaboy!
I cannot wait to tune in to CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday evening October 2, to see the interview of young Elian, now 11 years old, which took place in Cuba 3 weeks ago.
It is not hard to remember that he was the little boy who was found floating on an inner tube in the waters off Florida back in 1999, his mother, who was fleeing her husband and Cuba, had drowned, and everybody from the boat had perished.
When he was rescued, he was given asylum, and placed with relatives in Miami. And later there was a seven month custody battle, and a ruling that he should be with his father in Cuba.
And, to our government’s everlasting credit, Elian was later removed forcibly from these relatives in an armed federal raid, and returned to his father.
The interview took place at his home town for over an hour with his father present, but without attorneys, without officials of any kind, and no ground rules were set!
There was no attorney or “section 730 evaluator ” court ordered report to inspire acrimony and division, as my long gone little boy Zachary received from L.A. Family Court.
We’re told that he referred to his Miami relatives, said they were wrong to keep him there, but averred he would like to see them again because they are “my uncles, my family”.
He said he views Castro as not only a friend, but as a father.
I would like to make a forecast. That boy has character, and will grow up to be a happy well adjusted human being. Which is what it’s all about.
Later, October 2
Just watched. One’s heart goes out to him.
The subject’s demeanor is what matters most in this type of interview, where his scattered family is politically polarized.
To have him questioned to satisfy the curiosity of millions of TV viewers about his so far life, at that age is quite obviously not ethical, and to draw conclusions from his answers is unfair.
One learned from him that he was taken down to the beach by his mother and “her boyfriend” (this from the interviewer), for an evening of fishing. Instead he found himself in a boat with 19 others, bound for America, all of five years old. He was asked to remember details, and he said that the boat overturned in a storm, he was put on an inner tube, and watched as his mother “got in a fight” with someone, but he fell asleep, and awoke to find himself quite alone, where he floated on the waves for many hours. Passing Florida fishermen saw what they thought was a toy in the water and passed it by, but thankfully came back a half-hour later, and seeing a hand move, realized that this was something else.
Having been the center of a nation’s media attention at the age of eleven myself, I recall vividly how I felt back then. The successful child aims to please, no matter the demands or whose they are, and respectfully serve the wishes of one’s controlling elders. At least, that’s what happens in a highly structured society like the England of yesterday or the Cuba of today.
I thought that Elian seemed sad, as though he had not yet come to terms with his life’s conditions, and of course why not. One hopes that he will be given the space and freedom to look for who he is in time, away from everybody.
One couldn’t help noticing the chattering school children in their pretty uniforms, straight out of a 1950’s movie. Propaganda? Sure, and what isn’t these days?
But can’t this country be glad to have a stable sovereign country like Cuba nearby? Would it prefer another corruptly volatile and disorganized capitalistic government of a Haiti?
I think viewers will wonder whether our government would have done the right thing without the political pressure from Castro, whose personal outrage at Washington back then was palpable.
Again, “get over it” is the message to our government, and knock off the petty, mind-numbingly cruel sanctions aimed at Castro and his people.
A heart-breaking post-script.
A 33-foot speedboat was spotted by the U.S. Coastguard about 45 miles south of Key West aiming for U.S. waters. Chase was given.
The pursuers lost sight of the boat but caught up a short time later. It had capsized. Thirty people were clinging to the hull. The body of a boy was found under the boat. He was six years old. No name was released.
Under the U.S. “wet foot/dry foot” immigration policy, Cubans stopped at sea are returned to Cuba. But, those who succeed in their quest get a prize. They can stay.
If that’s our policy, a question hangs in the air. Why discriminate against Mexicans? And an even bigger question.
Whatever happened to our humanity?
Little Elian – Attaboy!