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Cuban Americans in Miami are the spoiled, self-centered brats of the immigrant community.

Related Gully Stories

Elian Nation
A summary of the Elian Gonzalez saga.

The Cuban Closet
Rumored Cuban American moderates.

The Complete Elian
The Gully's complete coverage.

elian demonstrator

Elian Democracy

by Juanita Clemens

MARCH 30, 2000. Right-wing Cuban-Americans in Miami are the spoiled, self-centered brats of the immigrant community: over-privileged, pampered, kowtowed-to, politically powerful. It is laughable—if not disgusting—when they self-righteously compare their fight to keep six-year-old Elian Gonzalez in Miami to the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Are the laws which will repatriate six-year-old Elian Gonzalez discriminatory? Are they being applied in a discriminatory manner?

Let's look at the facts.

The first relevant law. If Cubans touch dry U.S. soil (or sand) without assistance, they've got amnesty, and a quick trip past go for a green card. If they're picked up at sea, they're supposed to be returned immediately.

Yes, this is clearly discriminatory. Against everyone not Cuban. Mexican, Chinese, African immigrants are deported whether they reach dry land or not. Whether their children are U.S. citizens. Whether they personally face grave danger.

Esta Pierre came illegally to the U.S. from Haiti after her boyfriend was dragged from their house in Port-au-Prince by agents of the Haitian dictatorship. He never reappeared. Here, she married another Haitian immigrant. Together they have two children who are U.S. citizens.

The INS will deport her, with or without her children, back to Haiti, as the New York Times called it, "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, a place of mass graves and open sewage..." Castro is a tyrant and a demagogue, but he doesn't compare to Stalin, or even Papa Doc of Haiti.

Other relevant laws. U.S. and international law say that minors belong with the surviving parent. The International Convention on Child Abduction, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by the U.S. and ratified by a democratically-elected Congress, state that children like Elian who are wrongfully removed or retained abroad must be returned.

Let us apply the law. Elian was picked up in the ocean on an inner tube. Elian is 6-years old with a living father who had even shared custody of the child in Cuba. Legally, Elian should have been returned to his father in Cuba as soon as he left the hospital. Instead, he was astonishingly placed with distant relatives in Miami, who were granted the privilege of an INS ruling, then granted the further privilege of a federal ruling upholding the previous one.

penelasElian Democracy. Despite the laws, despite the exhaustive and unnecessary judicial process affirming them, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, a Cuban-American, angrily accused the federal authorities of "provoking" the Cuban-American community. He told a news conference that if unrest broke out, President Clinton and his Attorney General Janet Reno would be held responsible.

Penelas, backed by other Miami area mayors, most of them Cuban-Americans, declared: "They are provoking this community to an extent that I nor anyone else can control. If blood is shed on the streets of this community as a result of what the Justice Department does, yes, I will hold them responsible,'' he said.

Another Cuban-American Mayor, Joe Carollo, tyrannically announced: "The Miami Police Department will not participate in taking Elian Gonzalez away from his Miami family to be sent to Castro's hell."

Uncivil War. Cuban exile groups said they would begin a campaign of "civil disobedience" including a human chain around the home where Elian is staying, a traffic slowdown at Miami's airport and protests across this tense city if the federal government moves to send the boy back to Cuba.

Carollo said, with a nod and a wink: "We do not condone inappropriate behavior, but I have a responsibility to tell the federal government when they've gone too far. And they've gone too far.''

We can only ask--what is too far to the Cuban-American community in Miami? The rule of law instead of tyranny? Or, perhaps, Democracy itself?

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