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CNN Today

Cuba's Women Turn Out in Force to Protest Separation From Elian Gonzalez

Aired January 14, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A sea of angry Cuban mothers march on an American diplomatic outpost. today. In the background, a fitting symbol: the waters representing the political gulf between Elian Gonzalez from his father.

CNN's Lucia Newman is in Havana, where the latest twist to the international tussle is playing out, today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Tens of thousands of marching women for as far as the eye can see: Cuba's response to a deadline that came and went without the arrival of the child this country has been waiting for. At the head of the march of the 100,000 mothers, as the government named it, were Elian Gonzalez's maternal and paternal grandmothers and the boy's four-month old half brother, Llanny (ph).

MARIELA QUINANA, ELIAN'S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER (through translator): If I have to go there to bring him here myself, I will go get him.

NEWMAN: The marchers went past the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, chanting in unison (SPEAKING IN SPANISH), "Return our child.

(on camera): The reason for this sort of demonstration is obvious: the message is that while little Elian may have lost his real mother, in Cuba there are millions of others waiting for him.

(voice-over): Many Cubans say they've waited long enough.

"I feel indignation about the kidnapping of this boy. They're slapping Cuban mothers in this face," said this women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We blame the bad Cubans who fled their country, didn't face their country's problems. They don't have a motherland of their own.

NEWMAN: The Cuban government says it's waiting for U.S. authorities to implement their own decision to return the boy to Cuba.

RICARDO ALARCON, PRES., CUBAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: This small boy has been surrounded for almost two months day and night by politicians of all sorts and all that coverage by the media, that harassment of the small boy in itself, is a case of child abuse.

NEWMAN: Cuban officials say they don't want to even consider the possibility that Elian Gonzalez won't be returned to his father and his country.

In the meantime, they say, all they can do is keep on protesting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWMAN: And speaking of demonstrations, another huge one is programmed for tomorrow, when officials say that at least 150,000 people will be out again demanding the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Lucia, Elian's grandmother has said she would come to the U.S. to pick him up. What's expected to happen from that statement?

NEWMAN: Well she has said that she is willing to do it, that she'll do it if that's what has to be done. Now, the father, as you'll recall, has said that he won't go pick up the child unless he has absolute airtight guarantees that the child will be turned over to him if he does this. But this may leave a way out. The INS had said that if the father didn't come and get the boy, another close relative could do so. And so this does at least leave the door open for someone that the child knows to go fetch him, perhaps in conjunction with the National Council of Churches, which has offered its services, so that the boy can return here -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Lucia Newman, reporting from Havana.

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