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Special Event

Gonzalez Family Spokesman States Disagreements With INS Request

Aired March 28, 2000 - 10:36 a.m. ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: At this time, I want to take you to Miami, Florida. Members of the family, relatives of Elian Gonzalez, are now talking into the microphone there. A critical day is said to come in this case today.

Armondo Gutierrez now is talking.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ARMONDO GUTIERREZ, GONZALEZ FAMILY SPOKESMAN: It is very sad that we live in a country of liberty and justice for all, except Elian. It's very sad that the government participated yesterday, participated yesterday in the court of appeal, and now is demanding something else on the side.

Yes, they are the government. But this is a six-year-old child. They are spending all this money working late hours in Washington. We don't know who is running the show, if it's Fidel, or local Fidel, or our local Greg Craig, the attorney for his father, which apparently he found on -- searching through the yellow pages in Cuba.

We urge the American government to take a step and realize that this is a six-year-old boy. We urge the American government to do what the family has done: consulted with professional psychologists and psychiatrists to study what's best for Elian. We urge INS to do that ABC news did: brought in a specialist psychologist who understand Elian.

We cannot understand that they're forcing this family to sign a legal document, but they don't have the time to find one specialist or two specialists to interview Elian and see what's best for this little boy. Is this what's best for the Clinton administration or for Castro? Why not think what's best for Elian?

The family here has done everything. They've been to every court. Every time the government says go to a family court, we go to a family court. Every time the government says go to a federal court -- you know, they say go to Congress, but they don't want this kid here. They have promised Castro they'll send him back and that's why they have to abide by their agreement. And they, I believe, want us to participate on their agreement, and that we don't know what's going to happen. We will know tomorrow.

QUESTION: Are they going to sign (OFF MIKE)?

GUTIERREZ: I don't -- can't tell you if he's going to sign it. I think that you just don't sign something everybody puts in front of you. You know, we see all those fraud cases out there.

I believe that Elian is a little boy who has told the American people and told the world about the horrible thing that happened to him. Elian has told the world and will tell the world what he feels and what he wants to do.

But it is a shame that the American government does not take 10 minutes to call those expert psychologist and psychiatrist to come and interview Elian and see what's better for this child. That's what the family courts are all about; they're the best interest of the child. Why not take that time -- and I'm asking Mrs. Clinton, who's wrote books about children -- why not let this kid have his day in court? Or why not let this kid be analyzed by experts what is in the best interest of Elian, not the best interest of anybody, but Elian?

And that's not what the government is having to do here. It's -- un minuto por favor -- and it is really a shame, it's really sad that we live in a country of freedom, of liberty and justice for all, and they will not spend whatever money it takes -- and if they want, we have a legal defense fund -- they could pick the psychologist, they could pick the psychiatrist, and let's see what is best for Elian. They have the expert testimony in court. Why don't they listen and they just take some time to have someone analyze this kid?

QUESTION: What did the boy say?

GUTIERREZ: I cannot say. I think I will leave it to the boy because it's not fair. We have been criticized when we have repeated what the boy said by some people like your network. So now, we are going to let the boy say it on his own voice, OK?

QUESTION: But what did he say?

QUESTION: What about (OFF MIKE) you know what, (OFF MIKE) by not signing this agreement you are taunting Janet Reno, she is giving you a chance (OFF MIKE).

GUTIERREZ: I -- they also -- the government requested this family -- the government, the president said you've got to go to family court; the family went to family court. The government says you've got to go to federal court; we went to federal court. They demanded that we file an emergency agreement with them to go to the 11th district; we filed it without them joining us. So...

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) sign the document.

GUTIERREZ: So? But, do you sign a blank document? Would you sign it? Tell me, sir.

QUESTION: Are you scared?

GUTIERREZ: No, I'm asking you. Will you sign -- we have lawyers that have to advise this family on their rights and whatever is proper. I'm saying: why not think of Elian? Forget the document, forget the INS. Why don't we think of Elian? Why doesn't the government take the time to hire experts to see what's better for this child. They're violating...

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

GUTIERREZ: He has -- they will abide by all the laws. They will not violate any laws.

QUESTION: Is that a yes?

GUTIERREZ: I'm saying -- you heard what I said. They will not violate the law, they will abide by all the law.

QUESTION: Will he be surrendered if they (OFF MIKE)?

GUTIERREZ: I believe so. Castro -- I mean, Lazaro said that he would never break the law and that, you know, if he loses, he would.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

GUTIERREZ: Because the way that it is worded, they cannot agree to that point, OK?

(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

HEMMER: Armondo Guttierrez, the family spokesman for the Gonzalez family, there outside the family home in Miami, Florida, stating very directly their disagreements with the INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that have requested that family sign a document that promises to hand over Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old boy, to be returned to Cuba, if indeed the family loses its current case that is on appeal.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service, the INS, once again, said the boy's parole will end at 9:00 a.m. this Thursday morning, unless the family provides that written guarantee to give up Elian.

However, earlier today in a meeting between members of family relatives of Elian in Florida and members the U.S. government, the INS, it was stated quite clearly that they would not sign that document.

And you can see again, the frustration spilling out into the streets of Southern Florida.

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