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Lawyer asks halt to Cuban officials' visits to Elian Gonzalez
MIAMI (CNN) -- A lawyer for the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez has demanded that the U.S. government stop allowing Cuban officials to visit the 6-year-old boy.
Kendall Coffey said on Wednesday that the visits were "a pre- indoctrination phase ... in anticipation of returning the boy to Cuba."
In a letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service Coffey wrote, "We believe that your increasing efforts to facilitate accelerated interaction by the Cuban government with Elian are tragic and wrongful and we demand that you cease this pre-indoctrination process immediately."
Elian is currently living at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland with his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, his step- mother and his infant half-brother, after being taken during a raid on the home of his Miami relatives on Easter Saturday morning.
The Miami relatives have been denied access to him since he was removed from their custody.
'We're not controlling who's going in' -- INS
An INS official told CNN the U.S. government has no authority in choosing who can visit the boy and his family.
"We're not controlling who's going into the Wye River Plantation, just as we did not control who was going in and out of Elian's house in Florida," the official said.
"It's Juan Miguel's decision what visitors they have."
The INS official said it was unrealistic for anyone to think that Elian's father would have no contact with any official of his own country, "just as it would be unrealistic to think that any American in a foreign country would not want to have contact with American officials."
Coffey's letter also cited the seizure of drugs, including tranquilizers, from Elian's doctor, Caridad Ponce de Leon, on her arrival in the U.S. last Thursday. U.S. authorities said she was not licensed to practice medicine in Maryland.
She had flown from Havana with four of Elian's former classmates and three parents to spend time with the boy at the Maryland site.
The INS said, "It is ludicrous to suggest that the INS is complicit in any indoctrination."
Elian was one of three survivors of a shipwrecked immigration attempt that took the life of his mother and 10 others. He was rescued off Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on Thanksgiving Weekend and placed in the care of his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez.
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