Martin Schiller mart555 at t-three.com
Sun Apr 23 19:43:30 PDT 2000

kelley said on 4/23/00 2:18 PM

>i wanna hear this one. conspiracy theories. okay agent mulder you go buoy.

I'd like to hear _any_ theory about who the players are and what the play is about.

It seems that castro, time-warner and the canosa group are clear participants.

It seems to have been suggested that the miami group was set up by the administration.

Mr Clinton shows courage in taking on Miami By John Simpson

'Give me the boy or I shoot'

HOWEVER they did it, it took considerable political courage for President Clinton and his Attorney General, Janet Reno, to tear Elian Gonzalez away from his Miami relatives - and their backers, who wanted to prevent his return to Cuba.

Past administrations have not dared challenge the Cuban-American community in Miami, and had he not been leaving office in a matter of months, Mr Clinton might have hesitated too. His Vice-President, the hapless Al Gore, had already caved in and said that Elian should stay. He presumably thought this good politics, but it doesn't bode well for a principled presidency if he wins the election in November.

American politics is bedevilled by the concept of the multiple choice question in the same way as the American education system. Complicated issues are reduced to the simplest of tabloid slogans.

For five months, the subject of US relations with Fidel Castro's Cuba has been allowed to shrink to a "tick one of the following boxes" exercise in USA Today: should Elian be reunited with his father in Cuba, or be allowed to stay in the United States - the country his mother died trying to reach? In law, there was only ever one answer: unless there is some overriding reason to prevent it, a six-year-old child belongs with his father or mother.

Cuba has been nothing but trouble for America. Until Castro's revolution in 1959, it was a breeding ground for gangsterism; since then it has been a political - and, briefly, a military - threat. As for the Cuban community in the United States, they have achieved a good deal, but have helped to rot the fabric of American political culture.

You certainly don't have to accept the crime writer James Ellroy's fantasy in American Tabloid to suspect that Cuban exiles played some part in the murder of John F Kennedy. The worst scandal of the Reagan era, Iran-Contra, had strong Cuban links too.

Every president for 40 years has been obliged to play up to those who can deliver the Cuban-American vote, numbering more than 500,000 electors. The man who most wanted Elian to stay in Miami, and who now has the most to lose, is Jorge Mas Santos, the head of the hardline Cuban American National Foundation. His father, Jorge Mas Canosa, was a hugely influential millionaire who could make Washington do whatever he wanted where Cuba was concerned.

But after Mr Mas Canosa died three years ago, the foundation's influence waned. The Elian issue revived it and Mr Mas Santos has usually been in evidence at the demonstrations outside the depressing house in "Little Havana", the Miami suburb where Elian's relatives live. The case had suited Castro, too. His Havana rallies haven't seen such big turn-outs for years, and he has exploited the fact that Elian was in the grip of the Right.

When Castro's days are over, people like Mr Mas Santos will return to Cuba, demanding back property taken from their families by the revolution. The threat from Cuban-Americans is strong in Cuba itself, and Castro has played on this too.

When he warned Washington that armed guards had been brought in by Mr Mas Santos to prevent federal marshals from sending Elian back to his father, it was partly a message to his own people. In the meantime, at the heart of all this is a bemused six-year-old boy, trying hard to satisfy the conflicting demands of adults who want to make use of him.

Outside the house, crowds gathered in the belief that Elian had healing powers. They would hold up sick children to him over the suburban link fence. Once, as he played, older people gathered outside shouting: "Touch me, Elian!"

The idea that he has supernatural powers was fostered by the man who rescued him from the choppy waters off Florida on Thanksgiving Day last November, and who rejoices in the name of Donato Dalrymple. According to Dalrymple, Elian was the only one of the three survivors who had not suffered from being at sea for three days. The others were sunburned and suffering badly from jellyfish stings.

Elian was unaffected, lending him the staus of an icon. Long after the adults who have been manipulating him have forgotten his very name, Elian Gonzalez's life will have been ruined by what they have put him through.

John Simpson is the BBC's World Affairs Editor

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