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Custody Battle Over Elian Gonzalez Heats up: Elian's Father Ready To Fly To U.S.; Lawyers Resume Talks With INS

Aired March 30, 2000 - 1:19 p.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Attorney General Janet Reno says the Justice Department still expects to enforce the law. And she took issue with Miami officials, who have predicted that the Cuban-American community may respond with violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some officials yesterday suggested that if we take action, it is a provocation of provoking a people that would produce risk that can contribute to violence. They said that they would not be responsible for that but I would be.

The people, I know in the Cuban community, came to this country and have contributed so much to it because they believe in the rule of law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Cuban President Fidel Castro says Elian's father is ready to fly to the United States as soon as there is word he can reclaim the boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. FIDEL CASTRO, CUBA (through translator): Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian's father, is ready to travel at once to take charge of his son, Elian, as his father, as recognized by the INS and Judge Moore, accompanied by an indispensable group of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: The group Castro referred to would include Ricardo Alarcon, the head of the Cuban National Assembly.

Lawyers for Elian's Florida family had more talks this morning with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is trying to persuade the family to surrender the boy peacefully.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us from Miami with that update -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. The meeting that you referred to has been under way for almost four hours now. The government continuing to threaten to revoke Elian Gonzalez's temporary parole status, his legal status, to remain in the United States, if his great-uncle does not promise to surrender the youngster if he loses all federal appeals.

Well, after meeting for five hours yesterday, attorneys resumed their discussions this day because the talks were said to be moving forward. The meetings are being described as direct and frank, but very emotional for Lazaro Gonzalez.

Six-year-old Elian, meantime, was brought outside to play today by his great-uncle. And then his uncle escorted him outside the fence, which surrounds his home, so that he could be closer to supporters, which are -- who are a short distance away. Those supporters cheering the youngster.

As you look at Elian, we will tell you about a development from the U.S. Justice Department. It says that if no agreement is reached, that two letters are being prepared. One of them would officially notify the family that the boy's parole is being revoked, and it would also place unspecified restrictions, including travel restrictions on the youngster.

There would also be a notation that if circumstances change, including the possibility that the father would arrive in the United States, that the U.S. government would retain the right to transfer the boy to his father.

Also, last night for a few hours, some supporters of the youngster, who want him to remain in the United States, gathered at an intersection and formed the shape of a cross, holding flashlights and the like, saying that they wanted the boy to remain in the U.S.

All this, while some area mayors said that they would not provide any police protection if the U.S. government attempted to repatriate the boy.

And mayor Alex Penelas said that he would hold U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno personally responsible if there was any civil unrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ALEX PENELAS, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: I said that we would not condone, under any circumstances, inappropriate behavior by anyone in this community. The right to peacefully protest will be protected. But if anyone goes beyond the boundaries of peaceful protest and in any way causes disorder in this community, we will be prepared to take action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: The Florida relatives of the child have said that if the father came to the United States with his entire family, then they would turn over the boy. When a spokesman for the family was asked that today, he smiled and said: "Well, let's see."

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

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