By ROLAND SHEPPARD
The recent trip by Elian Gonzalez’ grandmothers to the United States clearly demonstrated that he should be returned to his family. Elian’s grandmothers returned to Cuba to a hero’s welcome, honored with a motorcade past hundreds of thousands of cheering Cubans and vowing to continue the struggle to wrest the six-year-old shipwreck survivor from relatives in Miami.
Maternal grandmother Raquel Rodriguez broke down in tears as she spoke to 1700 schoolchildren who had serenaded her and chanted for her grandson’s return during the welcome.
“It’s very sad. You are here, and Elian is not because we could not bring him,” she said. “We are suffering so,” said paternal grandmother Mariela Quintana, who also wept.
Even an Associated Press report from Havana, was favorable to Elian’s plight. The AP correspondent wrote the following: “While speaking to a conference of economists last week, Castro blamed the disaster on the mother’s boyfriend, Lazaro Rafael Munero, who organized the fatal boat trip.
“‘The mother was practically kidnapped along with the boy,’ Castro said.
Two adults survivors of the deadly trip told officials that they paid $1000 each for passage on the motor boat, according to Border Patrol Deputy Chief Michael Sheehy. “This individual went to Cuba in his boat to bring back at least a number of family members,” Sheehy said. “The survivors did tell them they had agreed to pay $1000. We felt there was some commercial gain here.”
Overall, the Cubans are winning in the worldwide court of public opinion. In spite of this fact, Elian still remains in Miami. U.S. politicians are more concerned with the welfare of the “Cuban Mafia” than the welfare of the child.
In recent weeks some of the most vociferous critics of Cuba have also come out in support that Elian should be returned. They have taken this position not out of concern for Elian. Instead, the right-wingers have realized that their anti-Castro, anti-Cuba rantings were in contradiction to their espousal of “family values.”
Recently, on the Dave Letterman Show, Hilary Clinton and Letterman spoke in general terms about what “was best for the child”-to be with his family or to be “free” from Cuba.
This is the greatest sham of all. In most cases, Cuba provides a better life for its people than what exists for Black and minorities in the United States.
In Cuba, illiteracy has been virtually eliminated. With a population of 2 percent of all of Latin America, Cuba produces 11 percent of the PhDs. There is health care for all, and Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States. Nobody is homeless, nobody starves or is ill fed, and ethnic racism is not profitable.
This is not true for Cubans living in the barrios of Miami or any other U.S. city.