There was no immediate reaction from the Cuban government, which had scheduled an evening pro-Elian rally in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., issued a subpoena on Friday in an effort to delay Elian’s departure. The subpoena requires the boy to testify before a House committee Feb. 10.
Earlier Monday, Vice President Al Gore questioned whether the INS has the expertise to decide Elian’s fate.
“I’d like to see the dispute adjudicated in our courts, where traditionally questions like what is best for this child are decided,” Gore said.
Gore declined to discuss Burton’s subpoena. At the White House today, President Clinton would not comment on Gore’s comments or on Burton’s subpoena.
Burton said he wanted lawyers on both sides of the issue to make their case in a courtroom, and that he hoped that would take place this week. “If the court decides the boy should go back, then we should live with that,” he said. “If the court decides the boy should stay here, it’s best for him to be in America — as his mother wished — then we should live with that.”
The subpoena drew fresh criticism from Robert Edgar, general secretary of the U.S. National Council of Churches, which sent representatives to visit Elian’s father in Cuba. “Little Elian deserves to be reunited immediately with his biological father and closest family members in Cuba,” Edgar said in a statement. “The longer this whole process drags on, the more disconnected this small child becomes from those who have raised him and who love him.”
Protests over plans to send Elian back to Cuba remained on hold after dying down Sunday. Last week Miami was beset by protests and traffic slowdowns incited by anti-Castro groups angry over the INS decision to send the boy back to his father in Cuba.