Cuban social scientists speak out on Elian Gonzalez

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Dec 29 13:32:53 MST 1999

Hi, Lou:

I am writing now on the case of the child Elian Gonzalez. This case  has
been unduly politicized and has gone out of proportion and perspective. The
Members of the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba have approved the call that
appears below, and I am sending it now for you to read it and, if you think
it is right, to do as you may deem appropriate with it. There is very
little we Cubans could do on this case but protest, but people in the US
could reach responsible persons that could help the public understand how
the Law has been bent here to accomodate political interests.

In any case, I want to wish you a happy time at the end of the year.


Sergio & Daniel


To our fellow scientists in the USA:

A small six year old boy named Elian Gonzalez was rescued nearly a month
ago, after the boat taking him as an illegal immigrant to the US had sunk.
This event caused the tragic death of his mother. Since then, the surviving
parent has been trying unsuccessfully to recover his son. Juan Miguel
Gonzalez is a loving father who had maintained very close ties to his son.
The reason he can not be re-united with his boy is that several remote
relatives who live in the Cuban emigrant community of Miami are claiming
custody of the child.

Their argument is that they can give him a better life in the US than that
he would live if he were sent back to Cuba. Having more money is not a
valid argument to take a child away from his father and his four
grandparents. It is illegal and unfair with his family in Cuba who wants
him back. International, Cuban, and US Law recognize the right of the
natural parents to decide where and how they will raise their offspring,
except in cases where there is abuse or neglect of the child, which is not
the case here. It is also very unfair with Elian. Having costly toys is not
an adequate substitute for the affection of father and kin, and elementary
psychology indicates that the only adequate environment for a traumatized
child, who has just lost his mother, and undergone incredible stress, is
his home.

The only reason the child has not been given back to his family is that
political interests have interfered. Counter-revolutionary groups and US
presidential candidates have found use for Elian in their political
agendas. He has been used on television as part of electoral propaganda and
commercial advertising. It is high time that this manipulation stops. If he
were a child from any other country in the same circumstances, he would
have been returned to his father immediately. The notion that children can
be separated from their relatives against the will of their family, just
because they could (perhaps) live a better life in the US, is threatening
to parents throughout the Third World. It is also a threat to the US itself.

The tragic sequence of events that led to the death of Elian´s mother is a
consequence of the economic differences between rich and poor countries,
that drive thousands of people all over the world to seek illegal entry to
the US. Just consider the situation at the Mexican-US border. In the case
of Cuba, laws that give legal admission to any Cuban reaching US soil
complicate the situation. If you are Chinese, African or Haitian, you are
turned back. If you are Cuban you stay. These laws were born from the US
Government's desire to destabilize the Cuban Revolution and fit together
with the 40-year-old economic blockade imposed on our country. Ironically
they have not succeeded in unsettling the Cuban Government, but have been
very successful in stimulating illegal immigration from the island, and in
putting people's lives at risk. These laws have also been successful in
promoting the only business area related to Cuba that flourishes unmolested
in the US: the black market traffic of illegal immigrants.

More justice and less cheap politics should be involved in deciding the
fate of Elian. The boy's mental welfare should receive more consideration.
If political considerations are to be made, they should be directed towards
normalizing relations between the US and Cuba by lifting the embargo and
eliminating incentives for illegal immigration.

The scientists that form the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, representative of
all disciplines, and from all of the country, express our consternation for
the unscrupulous political manipulation, and the unjustifiable delay of
such an abnormal situation, for its unforeseeable psychological damage to a
small child, all of which we repudiate as ethically unacceptable. In
consequence, we ask for the support of all of our colleague scientists and
all persons of good will in the US, and elsewhere, so that the U.S.
responsible authorities stop as soon as possible this unforgivable crime.

Members of the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba. December 20, 1999.

Louis Proyect
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