No trouble is expected, though Cuban-Americans in Miami are still bitter.
"I am still disappointed by the actions of the government and the attorney
general," said Carolos Saladrigas, a community leader who took part in the
all-night negotiations he hoped would end an impasse over who should have
custody of the boy: his father in Cuba or his Miami relatives.
"I still have the feeling we were used as a decoy. It was not ethical, and
if we had known that armed intervention was planned we could have made a
decision not to be there," he said.
Armando Gutierrez, who acted as the Miami family's publicist, said he was
disturbed by television reports from Cuba that show the little boy, now 7,
with dictator Fidel Castro.
"Elian is being used as a propaganda tool by the Cuban government," he
said. "It makes it very hard for us who were double-crossed by the U.S.
Elian was rescued from the waters off south Florida by fishermen
Thanksgiving Day 1999. He was placed in the care of his great-uncle, Lazaro
Gonzalez, and his family, who eventually sought permanent custody.
Meanwhile, his father in Cuba and the Castro regime asked for Elian's
return. The Justice Department, under Attorney General Janet Reno, ruled
that he should be returned.
Several requests by the government to turn over the boy were refused by
the Miami family. Negotiations dragged on until the armed raid April 22,
Prayer vigils will be held at the home from 5 p.m. today to 5 p.m.
Sunday. During the vigils pastors from different religious denominations
will gather at the home and will be joined by family members.
The Rev. Manuel Salabarria, a retired Presbyterian minister, said a
service would be held to bring attention to the plight of children all over
"The message is one of reconciliation of help, of exhortation for the care
of children," he said. "It is a message of unity and hope."
At noon Sunday, the leftist Cuba Policy Foundation, which has been campaigning
against the U.S. embargo against Cuba, plans a news conference to announce
figures from a new Florida poll on Elian Gonzalez and the embargo.
Foundation President Sally Grooms Cowal said an earlier national poll
showed most Americans favored doing business with Cuba and approved of the
boy's return to his father.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
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