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#1941: Cuban doctors in Haiti (see reference at end) (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Keep Cuban boy's ordeal out of politics -Vedrine
By Francois Raitberger
PARIS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said
on Friday the ordeal of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez, caught in a tug-of-war
between Havana and Cuban exiles in Miami, should not be politicised.
"The fate of a child whose mother has just died in a shipwreck should
not be used for political aims," Vedrine told reporters with his Cuban
counterpart Felipe Perez Roque standing at his side.
Vedrine did not say whether he was pointing the finger at one side or
at both in the passionate battle raging on the streets of Havana and Miami
to keep Elian in the United States or return him to Cuba.
But Perez Roque later told a news conference that politicisation was
happening "only and exclusively in the United States" where the boy was
paraded in front of cameras and journalists and could suffer lasting
Cubans have staged massive demonstrations for the return of the boy,
whose mother died while trying to reach the United States last November.
Cuban exiles in Miami have staged protests insisting he stay with relatives
in the United States.
Perez Roque said the boy was "in the hands of Cuban extremists who do
not represent either the (exiled) Cuban community nor the American people."
"I would like to know whether Miami, where U.S. laws are being
ignored, belongs to the United States," he said.
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalisation Service has ruled that the boy
belongs with his father, who lives in Cuba. His relatives are challenging
that it in court.
Perez Roque said there was "a real danger that U.S. citizenship be
imposed (on Elian) and that the decision of the U.S. government to let him
return not be implemented."
He said he had discussed the case with Vedrine but had not asked
France to get involved.
"I informed the French authorities, but I did not ask anything in
particular," he said.
Vedrine said French aid to Cuba would increase to 18 million francs
($2.8 million) this year from three million francs ($500,000) last year.
France was also studying ways of financing 400 Cuban doctors working in
Haiti in an aid scheme.
Perez Roque, winding up a three-day visit to Paris, part of an
European tour to woo investors, said he discussed human rights with Vedrine
but added that French aid to Cuba was not conditional to progress on the