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#3281: FWD from San Francisco Examiner - What if Elian were Haitian? (fwd)
What if the boy had been Haitian?
April 13, 2000
ELIAN GONZALEZ has become the most famous 6-year-old in the world. He was
found floating in the Atlantic
Ocean off the Florida coast on Thanksgiving Day, having watched his mother
drown in a valiant attempt to come to the United States.
His mother didn't make it, but Elian has. Big-time. The cute little boy's
face is beamed into the living rooms of millions of Americans every day as
cameras follow him as he walks back and forth and plays in the backyard of
his uncle's Miami house.
While his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has pleaded for his return to Cuba,
Elian has been showered with presents and with admiration for his survival
He has been hailed as a young and gifted child whose talents need to be
developed in the United States. Both presidential candidates have spoken out
on behalf of the child staying in the United States. Anti-Castro protests in
Miami's Cuban community are seen around the clock.
One question that hasn't been asked amid all the controversy is: How would
people react if Elian was named Du Bois and he came from Haiti? Would a black
nappy-haired boy be at the center of such debate?
I don't think so. All one has to do is look at the treatment that Haitians
are accorded when they try to step on American shores.
Like Cubans, who live in poverty and face tyranny and political repression
under the Marxist government of Fidel Castro, Haitians also live in tyranny
in a dysfunctional democracy. But unlike Cubans, who are given political
asylum here, Haitians are given a pat on the back and a ticket back to Haiti.
Many blacks favor Elian's return to his father. There is a strong belief in
"family values" within the black community among people who feel the
reunification of a father and a son should take place no matter the political
system, no matter what pleasures one can find in a particular country.
It was the ordeal of slavery through the cross-Atlantic slave trade, and then
the domestic slave trade, that helped break up the black family.
This historical breakup is what has helped many blacks to form strong family
bonds over the years. In a Miami Herald poll, 92 percent of the blacks polled
felt that the Elian should return to Cuba with his father. The same survey
showed that 76 percent of non-Cuban whites favor his return, a view taken by
only 8 percent of Cuban Americans.
This strong showing of the majority community (black and white) in Miami
hasn't deterred Cuban exiles who set up encampments around Lazaro Gonzalez's
house to protest Elian's return to Cuba. To them, Elian is a political trophy
and a reminder of their opposition to Castro's regime in Cuba.
"He (Elian) faces serious psychological problems if he goes back to Cuba,"
said Ramon Saul Sanchez, president of the Democracy Movement for a Free Cuba,
on the "Both Sides with Jesse Jackson" TV show.
"Cuba is a dictatorship that doesn't want people to see them think for
Sanchez said he favored the boy reuniting with his father in this country.
But some segments of the Cuban American exile community in Miami feel Elian
shouldn't be reunited with his father at all.
According to all accounts, the bond between the two was strong before Elian's
fateful trip away from Cuba. Let's hope the bonds will be strengthened when
he is reunited with his father for good.
Lee Hubbard is an independent journalist. E-mail: email@example.com.
©2000 San Francisco Examiner Page A23 Examiner