Furor over the fate of Elian Gonzalez, the lone survivor among a group of would-be Cuban refugees to the U.S., continues to crescendo in Cuba amid the backdrop of charges of “public kidnapping” and a meeting of 1,500 delegates of the communist-dominated Latin American and Cuban Student Organization.
As thousands demonstrated throughout Cuba demanding the return of the six-year-old to Cuba from his relatives in the United States, Ricardo Alarcon, the president of the Cuban Parliament, decried what he termed as “the first instance of public kidnapping.”
Alarcon’s comments were broadcast on Radio Habana International, the official broadcasting service of the Cuban government.
Alarcon characterized the refusal of Elian’s relatives in the U.S. to cooperate with Immigration and Naturalization Service demands for the return of the boy to Cuba as a “public kidnapping,” and described an ABC interview with Elian as “child abuse.”
He also likened Miami to the Old West “where bandits and outlaws impose their own laws.” Massive support in Miami for Elian to remain in the U.S. is dismissed as coming from the “Cuban-American Mafia.”
Negotiations are continuing between the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the boy’s American relatives. There is also strong congressional support for granting permanent residence to Elian.
The struggle over Elian is a global one, and reflects the Cuban government’s continuing efforts to increase “support and solidarity … for the Revolution.”
Continuing the theme of support for the Cuban revolution, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, in a speech to the Switzerland-Cuba Association in Geneva, Switzerland, said that nations having “solidarity groups” supporting the Cuban revolution have increased from 40 countries to over 120 in the past decade.
These groups, according to Roque, are in “solidarity with the Revolution” and “encourage resistance” to the United States.
Roque’s comments were also broadcast on Radio Habana International.
In a similar vein, following the statements of Alarcon and Roque, the Latin American and Cuban Student Organization convened in Havana April 1, 2000 for its 22nd session, declaring it would now extend its organizational efforts to “junior and senior” high school students.
For the first time, students from the U.S. and Canada joined the mostly Latin American and Caribbean attendees.
It was stated that the inclusion of high school students would “help students from all levels” to combine into a “common front.”
With nothing less than revolutionary pride at stake in the matter of Elian Gonzalez, the issue involves far more than just returning Elian to his father. For Cuba, it represents the vindication of Castro’s Revolution itself.