Castro's Daughter Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee on Elian Gonzalez CaseAired March 1, 2000 - 10:42 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take you to Capitol Hill for some live coverage right now. In front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, some relatives of Elian Gonzalez as the fight continues over whether the little boy should be sent back to Cuba with his father or stay in the United States.
This is Alina Fernandez. She is the daughter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She left Cuba in 1993.
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ALINA FERNANDEZ, FIDEL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: ... but I do think my own experience shows just how difficult it is for any Cuban to leave Cuba on their own terms without government permission, without paying to leave, and without fear.
On the other hand, I can also understand the many different attitudes and opinions people may have regarding this case. It is tragic and it is complex. We all recognize the conflict between the child's natural right to be free and to be with his family, even as we see in this case that the family is being used and manipulated by the Cuban government for political purposes and to generate anti-American sentiment.
What I am unable to understand, however, is how a nation such as the United States of America can allow a dictator to manipulate and take advantage of U.S. laws and use them for personal political gain. That is what surprised me the most about this entire case, that a dictator from a totalitarian state without any respect for the rule of law, that does not safeguard or protect individual rights to receive the protection and respect of a law-abiding society like the United States.
In Cuba, the terms "parental rights" or "freedom of expression" are meaningless, and it is truly absurd that such a state will impose his own lawless views on your legal system. In Cuba, there are many cases of children who have lost their parents crossing the Florida Straits. These children all remain hostage of the Cuban government.
About four years ago, the Cuban government sunk a tug boat off its coast that sent 11 children to their untimely and horrible deaths. In my opinion, it is the tragedy of all those Cuban families that have been forcibly separated through exile or death crossing the straits or by other means, that this is what the case of this little boy symbolizes.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate of the United States government, with all due respect, you cannot allowed this unilateral victory on behalf of a dictator. You cannot bend to the wishes of a dictator without in any way addressing the larger issue of safeguarding the rights of all Cuban families. How can it be that anyone who so forcefully seeks the return of this boy who has suffered too much to Cuba and ignore the many other Cuban families who remain forcibly separated from their loved ones by the whims of this dictator?
I also wish to say...
KELLEY: "Whims of this dictator": She's referring to her father. That is Alina Fernandez. She's the daughter of Fidel Castro and she left the country in 1993, one of her father's fiercest critics. And as you can hear there, she clearly thinks that the boy should stay in the United States because she talked about how difficult it is to live there without fear and government interfering, although she said she understood family ties. But she says the family there in Cuba is being used to generate anti-American sentiment and that the United States cannot allow Fidel Castro to win.
Also testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today will be a cousin of Elian Gonzalez, who wants him to stay to get U.S. citizenship, and a great-uncle who believes that the boy should be returned to his father in Cuba.
We'll keep track of the story and bring you the latest as it happens.
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