Govt Accused of Abuse Against Elian
By Brigitte Greenberg
Associated Press Writer
Monday, April 24, 2000; 1:59 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON –– Crying in anguish, the cousin who acted as a surrogate
mother to Elian Gonzalez for five months said President Clinton lacks the
moral authority to denounce violence in schools because he allowed federal
agents with guns to seize the 6-year-old.
A group of Miami relatives and their supporters who followed Elian to
Washington have been trying to keep the boy in America. They were turned
back twice in attempts to enter Andrews Air Force Base in suburban
Maryland, where Elian was staying with his father, stepmother and their
"Why stand up on TV and say we need to make better about the
crimes that are being done in school when you're the first one to give an
order to break inside a house and (grab) a kid with a gun in his
face?" cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez, 21, shouted at a news conference
"It's not only the criminals and people outside with guns. Now
it's the government, too," she said, practically spitting out the
With tears streaming down her face and a pink and blue bag of Easter
goodies, Gonzalez pleaded to see the boy.
She accused Attorney General Janet Reno and Clinton of causing the
young shipwreck survivor irreparable psychological harm. She held a copy
of an Associated Press photo showing an agent taking the boy from a
fisherman who rescued him from the sea. Gonzalez pointed to the agent's
"Janet Reno said he had a little baggie of toys (on the plane to
Washington). Was this (gun) the first toy you gave him?" she asked.
"There was no need for this. There was no need for my family to have
guns (used) against them. There was no need for Elian's fear."
Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., who was helping the Miami relatives of the boy
in Washington, accused the Clinton administration of surrendering the boy
to his Cuban father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to appease communist dictator
"There was no hesitation on the part of this administration to
sacrifice innocent lives to achieve their own agenda, and the agenda this
time was diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro, so Elian was
expendable," Smith said during the news conference on Capitol Hill.
"I'm ashamed of my government."
The senator, who had tears in his eyes as he held a bright pink Easter
egg intended for Elian, called for congressional hearings and an
"This is no longer about Castro," Smith said. "It is now
about President Clinton and Janet Reno's abuse of power."
For the second straight day, Smith and the Gonzalez family, including
great uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, were turned away from the air base.
Marisleysis Gonzalez said she wanted to give Elian a bag with Easter
gifts, including a bunny toy, candies, the pink Easter egg that "we
were supposed to find today in my backyard," and other items that
"any other kid would get for Easter,"
"Let me see this boy," she demanded. "I know this boy
needs to see me, too."
But she left the gates of the base without seeing him, and there was no
evidence the guards accepted any gifts for the child. She said she and her
family would remain in Washington until they see him.
In the afternoon, they visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of
the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University, where they lit a candle.
A family spokesman described the visit as a "moment of reflection, a
moment of prayer for Elian."
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press