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Everywhere you turn, people are talking about 6-year-old Elian
Gonzalez and what should be done with him.
Should the kid rescued in the Florida Straits in an inner tube on
Thanksgiving Day be sent back to Cuba to live with his father or stay in
the United States? Elian’s mother, boyfriend and nine other boat
passengers died in raging seas while fleeing Cuba for the United States.
The debate I keep hearing boils down to two basic arguments:
- The kid should go back to Cuba to live with his only
- The kid should have a chance to live free in the land for which
his mother gave her life to bring her son.
I hear some variation of those two positions articulated on
every TV talk-head show, on the radio and in op-eds.
Both sides make compelling arguments. But let me tell you why neither
position is correct. I think I have a simple, straightforward solution
to this dilemma that is being overlooked by one and all.
First of all, even though Cuba is a totalitarian police state — a
hellhole that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — you can’t ignore the
parental rights issue. You can’t ignore that Elian is probably better
off with a father who already loves him than being thrown into a new
home — especially after the trauma this dear kid has already been
But, secondly, we can’t ignore the fact that Elian is in the United
States now. Even though he is only 6, this may be his last chance for
freedom in his lifetime — or at least for a very long time. It’s hard
to imagine sending him back to such horrendous conditions, even if a
loving father awaits him.
The trouble seems to be that neither solution is very good.
And, of course, there are principles and laws at stake, too.
Precedents will be set on the basis of whatever course of action is
That’s why I think I have the best answer — the only foolproof,
sensible policy I’ve heard anyone come up with yet on the Elian Gonzalez
Are you ready? Is anyone in Washington listening? Because I’m only
going to give you this once. Dan Burton, Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, et
al., listen up!
I propose that Elian’s Dad be invited to the United States for the
purpose of picking up his son. The condition of his entry must be that
he come alone — no goons from the Cuban intelligence services will be
permitted to accompany him. His trip expenses should even be covered by
the United States government — one of the few times you will ever hear
me advocate the expenditure of funds by Washington.
Once his Dad is here, he must be prepared to stay in the United
States with Elian for a period of two weeks. They will have a nice
vacation time to get reacquainted, permitting the son to deal with the
grief of losing his mother last November and re-establish familial ties
with the father.
Dad should also be offered by the Immigration and Naturalization
Services the right to remain in the United States with his son if he
I am so confident that after two weeks all thoughts of returning to
Cuba will vanish. Imagine the job offers this guy will get. Imagine the
magical time father and son will have at Disney World. Imagine the book
and movie deals that will be thrown at them. And, most importantly,
imagine the freedom Elian’s father will experience for the first time in
his adult life during those two weeks.
There’s no way he goes back to Cuba. No way. If he’s got half a
brain, he and his son will be set for life in the land of free and the
home of the brave. And everyone will live happily ever after.
Except Fidel Castro. And who cares about Fidel Castro?