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By denigrating his father, and Cuba, his Miami relatives have damaged Elian's bonds with both, and his very sense of self.

Related Gully Stories

Elian's Dad Guilty
The crime of parenting while Cuban.

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The Complete Elian
The Gully's complete coverage.

elian's father arrives with family
Elian's father arrives with wife and child.

Father and Son

by Toby Eglund

APRIL 6, 2000. The most wrenching chapter of Elian Gonzalez' childhood, or what is left of it, has now begun. His father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has arrived in the United States. It is befitting the nature of the story, that as Juan Miguel moves geographically further from the boy, he is now closer to him than at any time during the last 134 days.

The last remaining barriers are still political forces, and the fury and spite of the Cuban-American community and the Miami relatives who pretend to be looking out for Elian's best interests.

The Miami relatives argue that Elian will face political indoctrination if he returns to communist Cuba. Ken Dachman, a Chicago child psychologist familiar with the case, already thinks, "Yes, this child has been indoctrinated." But by his relatives, as an unfortunate consequence of their passion to keep the child.

By denigrating his father, and Cuba, they have damaged Elian's bonds with both, and his very sense of self. For this violently uprooted, motherless boy, his father is Cuba and Cuba is his father and that is where his roots are.

elian with gunSo when the Miami relatives insist Elian is afraid of his Dad, it may well be true. They are oblivious to the fact that, if this turns out to the case, it is they that are going to be held accountable for hideously turning a 6-year old against his own father.

Will Juan Miguel Gonzalez find a total stranger in the place of his son? How far gone is Elian? Has he been already replaced by "Elian", the clingy, media-hounded, pod-child?

Elian must have wondered why his dad hadn't come before to take him home. He must have wondered if his dad did not love him anymore, and felt that he had not only lost his mother, but his father, as well. He may blame himself, as children often do. Juan Miguel Gonzalez will need all the patience and generosity in the world to find his son again.

If father and son manage to overcome the harm done to them by forces beyond their control, they may, years from now, relish the irony that their new life together began in an upscale Maryland suburb, eight miles from the White House, and a world away from both Little Havana and Cuba.

Related links:

For Dr. Nancy Faulkner's report Parental Child Abduction Is Child Abuse.

For The Convention On The Rights Of Child.

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