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Related Gully stories:

Five Months Of Agony End
Federal agents intervene to return Elian to his father.

The Complete Elian
The Gully's essays on the Elian Gonzalez saga.

The Cuba Files
Articles covering Cuba's past and present, including Cuba Today: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

Elian Nation
The Saga Continues

by Juanita Clemens

MARCH 5, 2000. What began as a story about the fate of a 6-year-old Cuban boy rescued from the sea on November 25, 1999, has ballooned into the usual Cuba-U.S. soap opera.

Elian's Miami relatives still refuse to return him to his father in Cuba, despite further revelations about their less than wholesome family.

Elian's Miami cousins, the Cid brothers, have been convicted of multiple felonies. Two of Elian's great uncles, including Lazaro Gonzalez who is filing for custody, have been convicted of drunk driving, and may be chronic alcoholics.

Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, the supposedly neutral nun whom the INS chose to host the January 26th meeting between Elian and his two grandmas, has become a apoplectic advocate for keeping Elian in the U.S.

photo of O'laughlinThe psychic nun identified Castro's hold on the trembling grandmothers, and insinuated that the grandmas sexually molested Elian during the encounter, because one of the grandmas said on Cuban TV, that to cheer up a withdrawn Elian, she had teased him, pretending to bite his tongue and unzip his fly. The remarks, which caused no stir in Cuba, unleashed a frenzy among Miami Cubans.

Laughable O'Laughlin more recently has announced that one of the grandmothers secretly confided to her that Elian's father had been abusive to the boy's late mother, and that the grandma herself wanted to defect. After reports that O'Laughlin didn't speak Spanish, the grandmothers didn't speak English, and she'd never been alone with them, the nun claimed she had heard these things from a reputable third party.

Elian's dad has asked the INS to remove Elian from the Miami Lazaro Gonzalez household, counter-charging child abuse, while O'Laughlin lingers in the background promising to reveal even more dirty secrets.

U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler, who was chosen to preside after the previous judge withdrew because of possible conflicts of interest, suffered a stroke 48 hours before his long awaited hearing on whether the federal court has jurisdiction over Elian's case. His replacement, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, will begin hearing the case on March 9.

Manuel Gonzalez, Elian's only Miami relative who supports his return to his father in Cuba, collapsed after being allowed in his brother Lazaro's home for the first time in months, complaining of heart palpitations and numbness in his left arm. The now frail Manuel, a school bus mechanic, continues to support Elian's return, despite having been chased by about two dozen anti-Castro protesters yelling "Traitor" outside the federal court building on February 21.

photo fagetThe Miami office of the FBI, in a timely sting operation, arrested the Miami immigration supervisor, Mariano Faget, on February 17 for telephoning (openly from his office) confidential INS information to his long-time friend and business partner, Pedro Font. The flamboyant Font was about to meet with a Cuban diplomat whom the FBI believes is a Cuban intelligence agent.

Jose Imperatori, later identified as the Cuban diplomat, was ordered to leave the country. When Cuba refused to withdraw him, the U.S. forcibly deported him to Canada. Instead of travelling on to Cuba, Imperatori holed up in the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa on a hunger strike. After a tense 5-day standoff with Canadian authorities, he returned home to Cuba on March 2 to a hero's welcome.

The rabidly anti-Castro CANF (Cuban American National Foundation) asserted that the presumed Cuban allegiances of the INS official Mariano Faget is further reason to keep Elian in the States. CANF also suggests Imperatori may have plotted to abduct Elian during his grandmothers' visit.

The Cuban government also linked the spy case with Elian, but asserted that the entire FBI sting was concocted by the local office and the "Miami Mafia" (as they call their CANF nemesis) to discredit the INS on the eve of the federal case hearing. The INS has sided with Elian's father in the dispute, although it has done nothing to enforce its decision to repatriate Elian.

The U.S. Government has denied that the spy flap and Elian are related in any way.

photo elian The U.S. Congress is once again being lobbied by Elian's Miami relatives, egged on by Senator Connie Mack (R. Fla.) a recipient of CANF largesse, to circumvent the law by making Elian a citizen against the will of his father.

Al Gore continues to support Elian's Miami relatives' court-entangled foot-dragging strategies to get Cuban Florida votes in his presidential bid.

Manuel Gonzalez who recently told Congress, "The boy is going through a shock. He doesn't know where he is. And one must act urgently and give this child the attention he needs," is talking to the wind.

Related links:

For Tom Tomorrow's cartoon summary of Elian's saga in This Modern World.

For a comprehensive timeline from MSNBC.

For more on Sister O'Laughlin see Jim DeFede's The Flighty Nun.

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