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Miami Mayors Hold News Conference on Meeting with Reno on Possible Transfer of Elian GonzalezAired April 11, 2000 - 2:09 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: We are going to take you now live to the Justice Department, the mayors of Miami meeting with Attorney general Janet Reno about the believed transfer of Elian Gonzalez. They are now talking about that meeting.
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MAYOR JOE CAROLLO, MIAMI, FLORIDA: We requested of the attorney general that she would intercede to accomplish having a family meeting between the Miami Gonzalez family and Juan Miguel Gonzalez. She stated to us that she would consider that. At the same time, the attorney general stated to us that she would be very willing to meet with Lazaro Gonzalez or any member of the Gonzalez family in Miami and that she wants to meet with community leaders in Miami.
MAYOR ALEX PENELAS, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon I'm Alex Penelas, mayor of Miami-Dade County.
As Mayor Corollo mentioned, we visited with the attorney general today to really discuss two primary issues and make two requests of her. First and foremost, we requested that she utilize her ability, her authority to bring about a meeting of the family members, I think we all agree this is an issue that should be decided between them, between family members. They should sit down at a table, they should see eye-to-eye, face-to-face and discuss what's in the best interest of Elian Gonzalez. And it should be them only. There should be no politicians, there should be no lawyer, there should be no bureaucrats, there should be no security personnel. The family should sit down and figure out what's in the best interest of the child.
The attorney general said that she was very -- that she would very seriously consider our request, that she was very intrigued by it and will consider it. So that was our first request.
Our second request, as Mayor Carollo mentioned, was that family members from Miami have an opportunity to meet with her. She said that she was not only willing to do, she would be willing to meet with both Lazaro and Delfin just about at any time, she is also willing to meet with other community leaders in Miami.
So I think that was a very beneficial issue. There is a lot of people who would like to express to her their concerns and she indicated a willingness.
On the issue of bringing the family together, we felt that it was important to request that of her because, basically, what a lot of the community leaders are saying is is that they are going to accept whatever the family decides, that this is a family decision, it's best made by them, and once the family decides, if they get together and they decide what's in the best interest of the child, they will accept that.
Let me just make that statement in Spanish, if I may, and then we will go from there.
ALLEN: You've been hearing from the mayors of -- Joe Carollo of Miami and Alex Penelas, the Miami-Dade County mayor. They just met with Attorney General Janet Reno about the Elian Gonzalez affair. They are looking at how to make a smooth reconciliation if and when that happens. And they really want the two families to meet, and they also want to Janet Reno to meet with Miami community leaders.
They requested specifically that these two families meet together without the presence of U.S. officials or Cuban security personnel.
Lucia Newman, our Havana bureau chief, joins us now from Washington.
Why is that point so important to them, Lucia?
LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF: The family in Miami, the Miami family's lawyers, members of the community, and certainly the mayors, as we have heard, believe and are still hoping that if the family can get together they can work something out and hopefully they can convince Juan Miguel Gonzalez that his best interest and the child's best interest would be to stay in this country. They think that if there is no one else present, somehow the family would be able to sway Juan Miguel Gonzalez to stay in this country. And they have said, if after everything is said and done, he still wants to return to Cuba with his boy, they will respect that decision.
As we know, Natalie, Juan Miguel Gonzalez has said emphatically that he will not stay here, he doesn't want to. And he has also said that he would consider talking to these relatives, but not until they first return his child to him. And he's been very emphatic about that as well.
Now Attorney General Janet Reno has apparently, from what we have heard from the Florida mayors, has agreed to at least ask or suggest or consider this. But what is not clear yet is whether this is a prerequisite for the transfer. Will the conversation between the families take place before or after that? Natalie.
ALLEN: I see, the mayors also wanted Attorney General Janet Reno, they didn't talk about this just now, to wait 30 days before anything was done. Do you know if that was expected to be granted?
NEWMAN: Well, it was expected that they would certainly talk about it, and they have not made any mention of it. So although we don't know, the meeting has just finished that would seem to indicate that there was no agreement on those 30 days -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, Lucia Newman, we will continue to watch developments as they come. Thank you.
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