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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case: Father Meets with Reno; Demonstrators to Stage Traffic Slowdown in Miami

Aired April 7, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: One day after Juan Miguel Gonzalez's arrival in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department takes steps to reunite him with his son Elian. Gonzalez had a meeting today with the attorney general, Janet Reno.

CNN Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is closely watching what's going on in Washington and joins us now live.

What's the story?

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the meeting occurred this morning, it was about an hour long. During that meeting Juan Gonzalez made clear his plea, to the attorney general, that his son be returned to him.

Now the meeting went very, very well according to his attorney, and Mr. Gonzalez seemed very, very pleased with how the attorney general responded to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, ELIAN GONZALEZ'S FATHER (through translator): I've been very satisfied with the meeting with them. They've given me their -- all their courage, all their -- I don't know how to tell you -- all their support that this will be resolved the soonest possible. They have assured me, the state, the government has assured me that that's how it's going to be, and I'm sure that it's going to be that way, that soon I will have my son with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: Now Reno, a few moments after that meeting, put out a statement in which she reaffirmed her position: The man, the father must be reunited with his son.

Now we're being told right now that the letter is being drafted to inform the Miami relatives that the transfer of the boy to the father will take place, and that the boy's temporary parole status will be transferred to the father. That letter is being worked on. We expect it to be completed some time this afternoon -- Lou.

WATERS: And Pierre, any indications how the transfer is to be effected? THOMAS: Well, again, the Justice Department is hoping for a voluntary transfer. They hope that when the family is informed by these letters, that they will voluntarily turn the boy over. They know, however, that that is -- there's a possibility that the family will not agree to do so. Justice sources tell us that they are prepared to go to federal court to seek a court order to compel them to do so, if they reject the Justice Department's instructions.

WATERS: All right, Pierre Thomas, Justice correspondent in Washington -- Donna.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: And as you can guess, Miami's Cuban- American community is watching today's developments very closely. Cuban-American leaders are planning to step up demonstrations, starting this afternoon.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us with the latest from Miami -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Donna, more on the protests in a moment.

But first, the relatives here are bracing themselves to get those letters from U.S. Immigration, officially notifying them they will have to surrender the boy's temporary legal status from them to Elian's father.

Now, one of the child's great uncles, Delfin Gonzalez, trying to win sympathy from Congress. Before dawn, he left for Washington today to head to Capitol Hill, the trip sponsored by the Cuban-American National Foundation, a very powerful anti-Castro lobbying group. The question: Will Delfin Gonzalez, while there, try to reach out to Elian's father?

The Florida relatives are now saying that they are willing to meet with Elian's father any time, anywhere to discuss their differences. But, after accusations and ill will publicly expressed by both sides, it is highly unlikely that that meeting will take place. But of course, anything is possible.

Let's take a live look now at the demonstrators who have gathered behind the police barricades this day. It is the usual contingent of people who are there at this hour, very quiet here. However, it won't be quiet over at Miami International airport this afternoon, because Cuban exile leaders are planning a demonstration there. A traffic slowdown in the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour.

Why? They say it is a public expression of their frustration, their tension, and their pain. Well, it's entirely possible that they'll be causing a lot of people traveling to the airport there, a lot of pain as well.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

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