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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case: Boy's Grandmothers Express Frustration at Florida Meeting

Aired January 27, 2000 - 1:05 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: Today the grandmothers are back on Capitol Hill trying to blunt an attempt to make Elian a U.S. citizen. For the first time, two of Elian's Miami kin are lobbying Congress as well for citizenship or so-called permanent residency.

Joining us now with that part of the story: CNN's Kate Snow on Capitol Hill -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the grandmothers arrived here late last night into chilly Washington to come back to Capitol Hill and do more lobbying for their point of view that Elian should be allowed to go back to his father in Cuba.

One of the grandmothers just a short time ago was feeling rather ill. They've had a long day, it's been very emotional, and Raquel Rodriguez, the maternal grandmother, actually had to sit out on some of these meetings that they've been having, waiting about an hour until she felt better. They had called for first aid to come to one of the offices here in the building that I'm in, but it turns out that she's fine. She was just, as they put it, emotionally really worn out.

Now they are back into these meetings with other members of Congress, all of the members being sympathetic to their point of view. Earlier, they had a meeting with Sheila Jackson-Lee who's on the Judiciary Committee in the House, and they expressed to her their frustration about the meeting with Elian, last night. They said that, number one, it wasn't a private meeting as they had requested, they said that the cell phone, as you mentioned, was taken away from them. They did say that Elian had a chance to speak with his father for just a moment, as much as two minutes, before that phone was taken away; they were very frustrated by that.

They also said that the little boy, the six-year-old, simply wasn't himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIELA QUINTANA, ELIAN'S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER (through translator): He has changed completely. We have the child as soon as possible and to bring him back with his father in Cuba and to his family. RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ, ELIAN'S MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER (through translator): And it was very, very hard for us because our intention was to visit our grandson and to bring him home with us. But we're going to continue fighting, and I'm certain that we're going to make it. We're going to see (OFF-MIKE), and if we have to come back again to the United States we will do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Meantime, a bit of a circus here on Capitol Hill as members of Elian's family from Miami arrive here to lobby the other side of the issue, people proposing a bill to make Elian a citizen. Now, that bill may not go anywhere very fast. We learned today that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said that he will not expedite the measure as he was expected to. It will have to go through committee. He said that he feels that this matter might be better handled by the courts.

Reporting from Capitol Hill, Kate Snow, CNN, live.

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