Tags: Gonzalez | Miami | House | May | Turned | Into | Museum

Gonzalez Miami House May Be Turned Into a Museum

Sunday, 05 November 2000 12:00 AM

Gonzalez told reporters in Miami the house, which has been unoccupied for several months, will officially become "Casa Elian," a center to commemorate Elian's days in Miami. It also will be a home for an advocacy group on behalf of refugee children.

A Miami landscaping company has announced it will donate two royal palm trees and other plants in order to beautify the property. Other than that, Gonzalez says, home improvements will be kept to a minimum. Little has changed at the house since the lad came to America last Thanksgiving. Christmas lights that were strung in order to amuse Elian are still up.

Elian arrived at the Little Havana house last November 25 after being rescued while clinging to an inner tube off the Florida coast. The makeshift boat carrying Elian, his mother and several other passengers broke up in the Florida Straits. Nearly all aboard died, including Elian's mother.

Delfin Gonzalez says that on this coming November 25, "Casa Elian" will be unveiled. Eventually, Gonzalez hopes to open it to the public, which will be allowed to tour the center for free.

However, Delfin said, he will acquire all permits necessary from the city of Miami to operate the center. "I don't want to call this a museum and upset the neighbors," Gonzalez said.

A Miami sculptor has offered to create a life-size statue of Elian that could be placed on the house's front lawn. It was nearly a year ago that the Little Havana house was the center of the international media spotlight and a gathering point for Cuban-American demonstrators.

Lazaro Gonzalez, his daughter, Marisleysis, and his wife, Angela, moved out of the Little Havana house after the Easter weekend raid by federal agents who physically removed Elian from their care. The family now lives about five miles away from Little Havana, in the western part of Miami.

Elian and his father returned to Cuba in June after the Miami relatives lost their custody battle.

Meanwhile, a dinner is set for Washington on Friday night by the "Freedom Forum" in honor of Elian Gonzalez. The dinner is being billed as the "Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award Ceremony" to honor Elian Gonzalez with a $1 million prize to create the Free Spirit Youth Refugee Fund.

The "Free Spirit Youth Refugee Fund" is designed to provide humanitarian assistance and scholarship aid to needy refugee children from any country who are living in the United States. The fund will be administered by the Freedom Forum, which will select the individuals and/or organizations to receive the awarded funds.

The Freedom Forum does not have the option of giving the award to Elian or his father, because they are now living in Cuba. "There are laws that prohibit us from giving money to Cuban nationals," according to Donna Fowler, a Freedom Forum spokesperson.

The award will be made annually to honor an individual or individuals who have demonstrated an abundance of free spirit, either through a single significant act or through a lifetime of achievement. The 2000 award is the first to be announced from a $25 million endowment that was established last year to honor Neuharth, the Freedom Forum's founder, upon his retirement as a foundation trustee.

A Miami ceremony is set for next Thursday to honor the lawyers who argued in favor of Elian remaining in the United States. Forty-seven lawyers took part in the case at no charge to Elian's Miami relatives.

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Gonzalez told reporters in Miami the house, which has been unoccupied for several months, will officially become Casa Elian, a center to commemorate Elian's days in Miami. It also will be a home for an advocacy group on behalf of refugee children. A Miami landscaping...
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2000-00-05
Sunday, 05 November 2000 12:00 AM
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