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Special Event

Gonzalez Family Spokesman: Elian's Future Should be Decided in Family Court

Aired January 7, 2000 - 11:31 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

TERRY KEENAN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we want to take you down to Miami, where a press conference is under way, the family of little 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez has just started talking, Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RAMON SAUL SANCHEZ, GONZALEZ FAMILY SPOKESMAN: ... traffic has slowed down. Tomorrow at 12:00 noon everybody is being called to go to the Cuban prisoner's house, which is located on 13th Avenue, Southwest and 9 Street. And also on Monday, we are calling for everyone to drive with their vehicles throughout the whole day through the Miami International Airport in order to slow down the airport and even bring it to a halt, if necessary.

Today, throughout the day, we are pending to receive news from the attorneys regarding a process, a petition that they are going to file today in court.

There are rumors that the president of the United States might, at this point, be reconsidering his decision. These are only rumors, of course, but we think it would be a very wise decision for the president and a very sensitive one for him to turn around this sad decision that the Immigration Department has made, and allow Elian to have his day in court.

QUESTION: With these protests, why are you doing this?

SANCHEZ: What we are asking for is for the president of the United States to allow Elian to have his day in court. If even the worst criminal gets a chance to be in court, why not this innocent boy whose mother lost her life to see him free? We do not understand why the president has refused to allow this very American concept of a person having his day in court, only a family court can do a better determination of the best interests of the child and who should have custody of the child, only a family court can do that. And we are asking for the president to allow that.

Castro has put up a smoke curtain with the case of Elian to divert the attention that all the media and the international community had placed in internal dissident moment after the Ibero- American Summit so that it concentrates in an outside conflict with the United States so that he can crush the dissident movement, as he's doing right now, this very moment. Since this whole process of Elian began, he has incarcerated over 270 dissidents in the island. He's putting up the smoke curtain just like he did when Concilio Cubano was going to meet and then he shot down the Brothers to the Rescue plane.

So what we are asking for the president of the United States to do is what any American and the best traditions of this nation should be asking, for the civil rights of Elian to be respected, for him to have his day in court.

If a family court decides that the best interests of the child will be served by being with his father after having his father out of Cuba, not being coerced by a dictator sitting right next to him, perhaps making him say what he's saying right now, but freely saying that he wants the child in Cuba, then we will step back and let the court system decide.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SANCHEZ: We believe that any father love and want his son or his daughter. We also believe that, because of the nature of the Cuban regime and the manipulations from the beginning of all of this process, the father might be under duress, he might be forced to do what he's doing, supposedly claiming on his own will that the boy should be returned.

Only a court of law should weight that, it should also weight the fact that the mother died to see the child free, and also the best interest of the child. And neither the government of the United States, nor the government of Cuba, and not even us in exile, can make an unbias and an unpassionate decision here. Only a court of law is an independent source that can do that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SANCHEZ: As soon as the family ask us something we will immediately meet and we will give you our response after that. But we want to work, and we have been working with the family. If there are indications that this will be resolved in a satisfactory way to the family and to the best interests of the child, we will immediately of course scale back the protest, and even bring it to a halt, and in the very moment that we see that this is beginning to head in the right direction.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SANCHEZ: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

BILL TUCKER, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to comments from Ramon Saul Sanchez. He is the president of the Democracy Movement, and also acting as the Gonzalez family spokesman. The Gonzalez family asking that the U.S. government consider and hear its appeal that the case of Elian Gonzalez be heard in a family court, and that Elian Gonzalez's future be decided in a family court with the father present. And they say when that request is granted they will call for protests in Miami to be brought to a close. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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