House subpoenas Cuban boy to testify in Washington
Boy's father blasts move by Indiana congressman
January 8, 2000
From staff and wire reports
The subpoena -- issued late Friday by U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana -- orders Elian to appear before Burton's House Government Reform Committee on February 10, well after a January 14 date set by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to return the boy to his father.
"Why, who does he think he is?" the boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, asked angrily from his hometown of Cardenas, Cuba.
"I don't know what right that gentleman -- if you can call him that -- has," Gonzalez said. "I have my rights. Even the INS has said that the only one who can speak for him is me, his father."
The boy's mother died trying to flee with her husband and son to Florida in November, and Elian has been living with relatives in Miami since then.
An INS order that Gonzalez should speak for his son in the case has outraged Cuban exiles in Florida, leading to two days of protests. The boy's great-uncle filed for custody of Elian on Friday in Florida family court.
Burton said his decision was aimed at protecting Elian from deportation to Cuba. Since witnesses subpoenaed by Burton's committee must remain in the United States until they testify, the subpoena could act as a stopgap measure against the INS ruling.
"I want to make sure that Elian's rights are protected," Burton said in a Friday statement. "I am concerned that without a ruling from the judges, Elian is without legal protection over the weekend. I am issuing this subpoena to provide a measure of legal protection while the court is considering this case."
In Miami, Cuban activist Ramon Saul Sanchez said that in light of the subpoena, Cuban exile leaders will meet Saturday morning to consider an end to the campaign of civil disobedience.
Protesters in Miami continue to demand that Elian be allowed to remain in the United States, and planned a demonstration in Miami on Saturday and a traffic slowdown around the city's airport on Monday.
Cuba holds massive rally
But just across the Straits of Florida, those demands were countered Friday night by thousands of demonstrators attending a huge rally near the town of Cardenas, Cuba.
Speakers, including Elian's father, called on Washington to return the boy. Cuba's government, meanwhile, dismissed the subpoena as an act of desperation.
In Washington, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alexander Penelas and lawyers representing Elian's relatives met Friday night with Attorney General Janet Reno to discuss the international tug of war.
Reno said she is considering the issues raised in the meeting.
"I plan to respond as quickly as possible," she said in a statement.
The request to Burton for the subpoena was made by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Florida. Diaz-Balart made the move in hopes that Congress eventually will pass a bill granting Elian U.S. citizenship.
Custody case could result in U.S. citizenship
Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, filed for temporary custody of the boy Friday in Florida family court. If the court names Gonzalez temporary guardian, then he could apply for U.S. citizenship on Elian's behalf.
Elian has been staying with his great-uncle and great-aunt in Miami since his rescue at sea November 25. Elian was found clinging to an inner tube off the Florida coast, one of three survivors among a group of Cubans shipwrecked trying to leave their homeland. His mother and stepfather were among 10 people who drowned.
Miami police vow to crack down on protests
Cuban-American activists are calling on motorists to drive slowly around Miami International Airport on Monday as a protest against the INS ruling.
"We're not going to permit it," responded Miami Police Lt. Bill Schwartz.
"If they're looking to be arrested, they're coming to the right place," he told CNN.
Schwartz defended the right of protesters to have their say but added that a "good percentage" of the people arrested during the first round of protests Thursday were gang members trying to incite the crowd.
Demonstrators skirmished with police. Hundreds of protesters blocked intersections, cutting off access to the busy Port of Miami. Disruptions continued into Thursday night, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 people.
On Friday, President Clinton defended the INS ruling, saying it had "followed the law and procedures" in deciding to send Elian back to his father. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday had asked Clinton to reverse the ruling.
Elian, who didn't go to school either Thursday or Friday, was seen in the yard of his great-uncle's home Friday, playing with a puppy given to him by Diaz-Balart.
A spokesman for Elian's relatives said Thursday that the boy was aware of the INS ruling and that he had spoken to his father by phone Thursday night. Details about the conversation were unavailable.
Congressman Burton issues subpoena to keep Cuban boy in U.S.
U.S. Rep. Dan Burton
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