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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case: Lazaro Gonzalez Presses the Case for the 6-Year-Old to Stay in the U.S.

Aired January 27, 2000 - 2:50 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: On Capitol Hill today, the Cuban grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez are making their pitch to get the boy returned to Cuba. Meantime, Elian's Miami family continues to press the case that the 6-year-old should stay in the U.S. They are in Washington too.

CNN's Sonia Ruseler talked with the man who has temporary custody of Elian right now, his great uncle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SONIA RUSELER, CNN ANCHOR: Lazaro Gonzalez, how did Elian react to seeing his grandmother? You have spoken to him.

LAZARO GONZALEZ, ELIAN'S GREAT UNCLE (through translator): Well, when he saw the grandmothers, he kept his head down. He was asked to embrace them and he was a little bit sort of withdrawn because he's afraid of being returned to Cuba. Afterwards they took the child. He met with his grandmothers, they talked about the family, the toys, his little brother, some letters, and things that his schoolmates have sent him. But he did not pay almost any attention to any of them.

RUSELER: The grandmothers say that he told them that he wanted to go back to Cuba.

GONZALEZ (through translator): No, that's not true. Otherwise he would have gone with them. That is not true.

RUSELER: The father says that originally, when the boy arrived in the States, you offered to return that boy?

GONZALEZ (through translator): I never did that. We always told him, from the first time I spoke to him, we talked to him from the hospital and we told him that the child was stable and that the physicians wanted to talk to him to see whether the child was allergic to any medication. I have never discusses this with them, and we have also respected the rights of the child and the position of the mother to bring him to a free country.

RUSELER: The father also says that he was offered $2 million, a house and a car so that Elian could stay in the States.

GONZALEZ (through translator): Well, if somebody offered that to him, he should know better. He should know what was offered to him because we never offered anything to him. I don't know who could have promised him so much money. You should ask him.

RUSELER: It wasn't you?

GONZALEZ (through translator): No, never. If I had $2 million I wouldn't be sitting here.

RUSELER: However much you have grown to love him over these two months, you can't replace a father's love.

GONZALEZ (through translator): Undoubtedly, I cannot replace the father, but he cannot replace the wishes and the love of her mother who was who brought him here. I never went to Cuba to get the child and bring him here.

We were asked that we take care of the child when he got here, and that's what we've been doing. We are giving him warmth, love, we have never bad spoken his father or his mother. So I don't know why this has reached such an extreme, because the mother brought the child to a free country and lost her life so that he could be free.

She -- nobody had a gun to her head for her to bring her child here. What we understand is that the boat was -- had some sort of problem and they went back and left a girl, a little girl back in Cuba, but they decided to continue and try to go across the Straights of Florida to reach a free country.

She is disappeared. We cannot say that she is dead because they have not found the body. And what we would wish is that she would still be alive and that she would come to us. We are trying to get custody of this child because the child is in a free country and he has his own opinion and he wants to remain here. And I cannot reject a child that is part of my family. He is part of my family.

And what they should do is feel grateful that we have taken care of this child, and that we have not let him go, you know, on the street or something like that. They should be grateful to us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: The great uncle of Elian Gonzalez, speaking on CNN International about an hour ago. He's in Washington to try to fight to keep Elian Gonzalez in the United States.

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