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Court allows Elian's father limited role in appeal; boy's friends arrive from Cuba

April 27, 2000
Web posted at: 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 GMT)

In this story:

Castro denounces visa limits

Father gets limited role in appeal

Reno defends show of force


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Four of Elian Gonzalez's Cuban classmates arrived in the United States Thursday, the same day that a U.S. federal appeals court allowed the boy's father to intervene in the appeal of Elian's immigration status.

In its ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta put off the father's request to remove Elian's great-uncle in Miami from the case, and denied a request by the boy's Miami relatives to visit him.


U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno speaks to reporters Thursday about the welfare of Elian
(April 27)

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VideoJustice Correspondent Pierre Thomas explains the denial of an emergency order filed by Elian's Miami relatives.
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VideoCNN&TIME Correspondent Art Harris talks with immigration lawyer Ira Kurzban, who says the Elian Gonzalez case has been full of double standards and exceptional practices since it began.
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VideoINS agents remove Elian Gonzalez from his great-uncle's Miami home at 5 a.m. Saturday. (April 22)
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The ruling came as Elian's schoolmates arrived in the United States. The two boys and two girls, wearing maroon jackets, smiled and waved small Cuban flags from the tarmac of Reagan National Airport shortly after getting off the plane around 4:30 p.m. They arrived late Thursday evening at Carmichael Farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore where Elian is staying with his father, stepmother and infant half-brother.

The four were accompanied by three parents and a pediatrician. A fourth parent did not make the flight, but was to come to the United States on a different plane.

The children will visit for about two weeks.

Castro denounces visa limits

In Havana, Castro said the granting of visas for only two weeks for the children's visit was "ridiculous."

"This is like a chess game with 500 pieces, and we have a lot more experience than our enemies -- the Cuban-Americans in Miami -- and, if I may say so modestly, more experience than some American leaders," said the Cuban president, who was at the Havana airport when Elian's young friends departed.

Elian and his family remained at Carmichael Farm, a secluded private residence near the Wye River Plantation in Maryland, about 55 miles from Washington.

Elian's former kindergarten teacher and a cousin, who flew to Washington Wednesday, had been expected to visit him Thursday. The Cuban Interests Section would not comment on whether that reunion had taken place.

In interviews broadcast Wednesday night by Cuban state television, Elian's cousin Yosmani Betancourt promised to give Elian "a kiss and a very strong hug." He said the two would play with toy cars, draw and make faces.

The teacher, Agueda Fleitas, said she was bringing "a whole series of materials" so that Elian could catch up with schoolmates. "He's behind," she said. "We are going well-prepared to advance as much as possible."

Father gets limited role in appeal

The Court of Appeals allowed Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to intervene in the ongoing appeal over his son's immigration status, but put off his request to remove Elian's great-uncle in Miami from the case.

The father had asked the court to name him as sole representative to speak on behalf of the 6-year-old boy in all legal matters and to substitute him for the great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez.

"We grant the motion to intervene, but the motion to remove and to substitute will be carried with the case," the appeals court said in its ruling.

"Although we permit Juan Miguel Gonzalez to intervene in this appeal, we recognize that his belated intervention might prejudice the present parties' efforts to prepare for argument and to otherwise prosecute this appeal."

The court gave Juan Gonzalez until 4 p.m. Monday to file a brief. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for May 11 in Atlanta.

Earlier, the same court handed a victory to the government, rejecting a motion by the Miami relatives that an independent guardian be appointed for Elian Gonzalez.

In addition, the court turned down the Miami family's request for "regular access" to the 6-year-old for family members and their specialists, including attorneys, physicians and psychiatrist.

The appeals court also reaffirmed and expanded a previous order that Elian Gonzalez may not leave the United States by adding the boy may not be taken to a place which is covered by diplomatic immunity.

The three-judge panel did accept a government offer to have a psychiatrist and a social worker monitor Elian and report every two weeks to the appeals court.

Reno defends show of force

In Washington, Attorney General Janet Reno at her weekly news briefing again defended her decision to use force to retrieve the boy from the Miami home.

"In a law enforcement situation like that -- it may not be the prettiest thing in the world -- but it is effective and it proved to be effective here," she said.

Fidel Castro speaks to reporters at the airport in Havana  

Asked what went through her mind as she ordered the raid to go forward, Reno said, "How he (Elian) would feel suddenly being put in the arms of a stranger; what would he think, how frightened would he be, and I kept thinking I wish that I could see him when his daddy gets on the plane."

Reno said that people outside the house tried to throw ropes around INS agents to prevent them from entering the house. She said a couch was pushed up against the door and that's when agents used a battering ram to enter.

"This seemed to be the safest time possible to effect the transfer," she said.

Elian was one of three survivors of a shipwrecked immigration attempt that took the life of his mother and 10 other people. He was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida last November 25 and placed in the temporary custody of Lazaro Gonzalez.

U.S. psychiatrist: Elian 'doing well'
April 26, 2000
Sources: Elian Gonzalez to receive visitors from Cuba on Wednesday
April 25, 2000
INS: Elian's Miami family tried to block agents
April 24, 2000
Father won't see Elian's Miami relatives for time being
April 23, 2000
Elian's Miami relatives turned away from meeting with father
April 22, 2000
Federal agents seize Elian in pre-dawn raid
April 22, 2000
Reno ponders force, other options, to end Elian standoff
April 22, 2000

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  •  Kidnap in Miami
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