Open Letter to President Clinton and the INS Regarding the Illegal Holding of Elian Gonzales – PDF

1999 Open Letter to President Clinton and the INS Regarding the Illegal Holding of Elian Gonzales

The following organizations have endorsed the letter:

Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE

Michael Steven Smith, Esq., National Lawyers Guild

Margaret Ratner-Kunstler, Esq., Executive Director, William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice

Michael Ratner, Esq., Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights

Harold A. Mayerson, Esq., Specialist in Child Custody

December 10, 1999

The undersigned organizations, representing human rights professionals, family lawyers, women’s organizations, and child development professionals, call upon the United States Government to immediately return the Cuban child Elian Gonzalez to his father. The manipulation of this boy for political gain is both illegal and immoral.

The United States’ holding of Elian Gonzalez is illegal under the 1974 Hague Convention concerning child custody, to which the U.S. is a signatory. It violates the laws of every single state in the U.S., all of which favor restoring custody to a child’s biological parent. And it violates American immigration laws; the other six persons accompanying Elian have already been sent back to Cuba.

This child has suffered profound trauma and loss, and his recovery and health should be the goal of all responsible parties. It is morally self-evident that a child who has lost his mother and is left hanging to a raft for two days should be returned to a familiar environment; he needs his father, four grandparents, and friends. No amount of toys can substitute for this. Child psychologist and Certified Social Worker Linda Flores Rodriguez agreed, saying “This child needs his father. It is clear that in cases such as these, the child needs to be cared for in a secure environment where the routines of his life are familiar and comforting to him.”

Elian Gonzalez is being manipulated for the narrow and selfish political pursuits of the Cuban American National Foundation, which placed him in a CANF t-shirt and surrounded him with toys for a photo opportunity, transforming him into a poster-child for the organization. The political and personal agendas in this group cannot be allowed to override the interests of a small boy.

The U.S. Government’s spineless response to the demands of this small element of the Cuban-American community and its pathological obsession against normalizing relations with Cuba is causing irreparable harm to Elian. We demand of our government: Let the boy go home.

Signed,

Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE

Margaret Ratner-Kunstler, Esq., Executive Director, William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice

Harold A. Mayerson, Esq., Specialist in Child Custody

Michael Steven Smith, Esq., National Lawyers Guild

Michael Ratner, Esq., Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights