TOPICS > Politics

The Elian Debate

April 24, 2000 at 12:00 AM EDT


SPOKESMAN: (Elian being removed from Miami relatives) Bingo, bingo, bingo. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Come on. (Shouting).

HYSTERICAL WOMAN: This isn’t justice they’re talking about. This is his psychological well-being. This country is talking about his psychological well-being? Where is Clinton? Where is Reno at this time? Do they know what has happened?

JANET RENO, Attorney General: We have been to great lengths to resolve this case in the least disruptive manner possible. Up until the last, we tried every way we could to encourage Lazaro Gonzalez to voluntarily hand over the child to his father.

MARISLEYSIS GONZALEZ: They broke the closet door. They broke the closet door. They broke… They broke Elian’s bed.

DONATO DALRYMPLE, Family Friend: These people had guns. We could hear them banging all over the house. I heard people screaming and screaming. So I stood this far. People say I was in the closet. I wish I could have got in here to protect this little boy. I was holding him. Elian was screaming in English, “help me, help me.” They came here with guns. Now, I don’t say they were put in my brain, but the gun pointed right to me, “Give me the boy, give me the boy.” A soldier, I call him a soldier because that’s what he was. He came here in warfare and snatched this boy from me.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: This was in the end about a little boy who lost his mother and has not seen his father in more than five months. I hope with time and support Elian and his father will have the opportunity to be a strong family again.

GREGORY CRAIG, Lawyer for Elian’s Father: We are relieved that Elian Gonzalez has been removed from the custody of his relatives in Miami and returned to his father and family. To the very end, Lazaro Gonzalez placed roadblocks in the path of an orderly transfer of custody. He gave the Attorney General no alternative.

MARISLEYSIS GONZALEZ: This didn’t have to happen like this. They could have come and said, “get his stuff. He’s ready. We need to take him to the father.” And we would have done that. (Chanting in Spanish).

CORRESPONDENT: Once again, things have flared up. They’re doing exactly what Miami police have told them not to. They have arrested anyone so far who has tried to stop traffic and block the intersection. This is the first time we have seen the police give up. (Horn honking).

CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. He broke a window at the gas station , and they went after him.

CORRESPONDENT: Stepping onto the tarmac at Reagan National Airport, supporters mobbed Marisleysis and Lazaro Gonzalez’ caravan, then watched it disappear, first to Capitol Hill, then here to Elian’s new Maryland home. But for first time if five months, his father, Juan Miguel, is now calling the shots. He denied the Miami family access, barring them and their crowd from entering the military base.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts.

SAM DONALDSON: Thanks very much for coming in.

REV. JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL, National Council of Churches: Good morning.

SAM DONALDSON: You were at Andrews Air Force Base, and for over two hours, you were in the room with Elian and his father. What was the scene like?

REV. JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL: There was real affection there. That cannot be manufactured. It was affection borne of many, many years of caring. And it isn’t just what they say to each other, it’s the way in which he comfortably crawls up on his father’s lap, puts his arms around him, calls him Papa and I think Juan Miguel is very sensitive.

CORRESPONDENT: With me here in Miami is Kendall Coffee, one of lawyers for the Gonzalez Family. Now, I have been hearing from other people in this community that they don’t believe that Janet Reno was in charge, that somebody else was in charge. Do you believe that?

KENDALL COFFEY, Lawyer for Elian’s Miami Relatives: Well, we had an agreement that Janet Reno said to the 24 foremost leaders of our community she would support. and that was done and documented by 5 o’clock on the evening of Good Friday, so either she was lying to us – which I have trouble believing – or she wasn’t in charge and if she wasn’t in charge, that means Greg Craig was in charge and there ought to be some congressional analysis of why the attorney general can’t make and honor the deal that she enters into with the community. And if Greg Craig is really calling the shots here, it’s high time that we got to the bottom of that.

ANNOUNCER: From NBC News in Washington this is “Meet the Press.”

ANCHOR: Mr. DeLay, what is your reaction to the events of yesterday?

REP. TOM DeLAY: Well, Tim, when I saw what was going down, I was outraged, I was sickened, and afterwards I was ashamed that the United States Government for the first time that I know of has raided a private home without a court order and taken the case of custody of a child away from the court and put it into the executive branch.

ANCHOR: Mr. Holder.

ERIC HOLDER: I just want to say that what we did was totally supported by the law. If there are to be congressional hearings, I hope that I am the witness who will be called to testify, because I will get up there and very proudly talk about what those agents did, exactly what our legal basis was for taking the action we did.

SPOKESMAN: (speaking through interpreter) We’re a family. We’re doing everything because that mother of Elian gave her life. And we have to help that child as an orphan. And that he’s raised in the best country, free — not in a country where there are no human rights and fear, and here they violated my home. What’s happening? It’s time for everybody to be concerned. What are we, just wallpaper? It’s too much, what’s happened to this family.

MARISLEYSIS GONZALEZ: Good morning to all of you. Today is going to be a very long day for us. We’re going to try again once more to try to see Elian and we’re going to try to speak to whoever we have to speak to, to do and try to see if we can accomplish what we’ve been wanting for five months, to meet with the family, to meet with his father, and now I don’t think that they could say that there is a risk, when Miguel is not in Miami, we are in Washington, we are in his territory now, and he shouldn’t be frightened to meet with us, as they said before, and let’s see if they could allow the family to meet with the family and get this out of the political issue, as we’ve always said. And I’m looking forward to being able to meet with Elian, being able to meet with his father, and I hope that his attorney allows us to see him. I don’t see why he has to play the shots in the family issue.