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CNN Today

Cuban Government Creating Spot for Permanent Protests

Aired January 19, 2000 - 2:30 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are awaiting an expected ruling in federal court in Miami on behalf of Elian Gonzalez. The boy's Miami relatives are expected to challenge the ruling of the U.S. Immigration Service which says the boy must be returned to his father in Cuba. Legal analysts indicate the family's effort is a legal longshot.

On the Cuban side today, the communist government which lives by the credo of "permanent revolution" is creating a spot for permanent protest.

We have Havana's take on the custody case from CNN's Lucia Newman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The chants of protesters in front of the U.S. Interests Section building in Havana have been replaced for now by this: Construction teams are working round the clock to convert the area known as the Fourth of July Park into a permanent outdoor stage for demonstrations.

(on camera): For nearly four decades, Cuba has protested against U.S. policy before the United Nations, and just about any other international forum that will listen. But, now, the campaign to bring back little Elian Gonzalez has become the inspiration for a more permanent protest right here at home.

(voice-over): Officials say even after Elian is returned to Cuba, and they're confident he will be, protests will continue as long as the United States continues with what Havana calls its criminal acts of political and economic aggression. Many locals say they'll miss the fountain that was here before, but seem resigned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They took away the little park that was so pretty, but, well, they say they're going to build something better.

NEWMAN: While the protest park is being prepared, Cuban officials denounce attempts in the United States to award Elian Gonzalez U.S. citizenship as tantamount to stealing his Cuban nationality.

RICARDO ALARCON, PRESIDENT, CUBAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: For almost two months already he has been arbitrarily separated from his father and his four grandparents.

NEWMAN: The type of complaint that will soon have a permanent place to be heard even though the one who's supposed to hear it, the government of the United States, may not be listening.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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