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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case: Miami-Area Mayors Meet With Attorney General Janet Reno

Aired April 11, 2000 - 2:02 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: Elian Gonzalez is in Miami at the home of his great-uncle, but most of the action at the moment is in Washington, where Elian's father is still waiting to get custody of his son.

It is in Washington that we find CNN's Havana bureau chief, Lucia Newman, with developments today -- Lucia.

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF: Good afternoon, Natalie.

Well, justice officials were expected to deliver a letter today to Elian's Miami relatives outlining how, when and where to effect the transfer of the child to his father. That is uncertain at this moment. A Justice -- the Justice Department and Janet Reno herself has been meeting this afternoon with the mayors of Dade County and of Miami. Both are here trying to convince the Justice Department to wait -- to at least wait for 30 days before taking any action to give the families time to reach an agreement on their own.

Now, right before the meeting, the mayor of Miami was very, very critical of the Justice Department's handling of this whole Elian case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOE CAROLLO, MIAMI, FLORIDA: I have never seen a situation before in the history of our country where our government has allowed a foreign government, in this case Cuba, to be fully controlling an individual in American soil like they are doing with Juan Miguel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWMAN: Now, Mayor Carollo and, indeed, many Cuban-Americans have made it very clear that they are still hoping that Juan Miguel Gonzalez will finally decide to stay in this country with his son. But earlier today, Cuba's top diplomat here in the United States told CNN that that is a hope that they will have -- that that is a vain hope, that that will not happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERNANDO REMIREZ, CHIEF, CUBAN INTERESTS SECTION: Everybody have the same question. Everybody that meets with one Cuban always asks the same question: If you want to defect. But that meeting went well and there was, of course, the usual result, that Juan Miguel said once more that he wants to go back to Cuba with his son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWMAN: Juan Miguel Gonzalez arrived at the home in Bethesda where he has been staying with his wife and his child a short while ago. But earlier, he did meet at the Cuban Interests Section with supporters of his and of his cause, people who want to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, and he told them that he is ready to meet -- go anywhere in this country to be united with his son again -- anywhere, that is, except Little Havana and anywhere except going to the house of his relatives in the United States. And he also met with his attorney later on. If he has changed his mind throughout this afternoon, he hasn't said so yet.

This is Lucia Newman reporting from Washington.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And we are awaiting a statement by the mayors of Miami metro and Miami-Dade counties, Carollo and Penelas, who are meeting with the attorney of the United States right now. We're stationed outside the Justice Department. As soon as that development happens, we'll pass that along to you.

Lucia, of course, pointed out the letter that's coming from the Justice Department, a letter that's expected to spell out the -- to the Miami family exactly when, where and how they are expected to surrender Elian Gonzalez to his father. But there's no way of knowing how the family will respond, of course. They have said before, they will fight this process every step of the way. An attorney for the Miami relatives, today, says Elian's great-uncle is hoping to avoid further government intervention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANNY DIAZ, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S MIAMI RELATIVES: Lazaro is willing to and is insisting on, as he has for some time, and is asking the assistance of the professional at their suggestion yesterday that a family meeting be held as soon as possible. As you know, for some time now, Lazaro has indicated that this is a family matter that should be decided and discussed among family members as happens in this country every day around a kitchen table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Lazaro Gonzalez, the great-uncle who now has custody of Elian, now says he would be willing to let Elian's father meet with the boy in Florida, but only if Elian returns to the Miami home where he's been staying after that meeting.

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