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Elian Gonzalez Case: Organizers Call for Peaceful Demonstration; Miami Relatives Remain DefiantAired April 13, 2000 - 11:00 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: ... in terms of decreasing bid-ask spreads in markets at volume and trying to do it with as least fragmentation along the way as possible. But the issue...
BILL TUCKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to IN THE MONEY.
TERRY KEENAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we're, of course, following two big stories for you today. Here on CNNfn, we are going to take you back to the world's most powerful banker's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
TUCKER: And on CNN, the battle over Elian Gonzalez comes to a head.
KEENAN: Now let's...
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: There we are. Here at CNN, we're going to continue to cover the Elian Gonzalez situation and the custody battle.
First we want to go to our Susan Candiotti who is standing by in Miami -- Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Daryn.
All morning long, organizers here have been calling for a peaceful demonstration. And, in fact, that's how things have been. Of course, numbers have been growing, but seem to have evened off now at a few hundred people standing behind police barricades.
In front of the house, there are about 20 people or so milling about. Some of these people belong to Cuban exile organizations, including women wearing all black. They are called Mothers Against Repression and they say that they are here to share the pain of these people if, in fact, this youngster is reunited with his father.
Now, the people who are standing behind the police barricades have been starting chants from time to time, they're waving banners, both the Cuban flag and the American flag, with epitaphs against Fidel Castro and in protest against the U.S. government's promises to reunite father and son.
Now, as there is an increased number of police officers here, they have also decided to tie together the police barricades apparently in a crowd-control effort. Now, in the neighborhood, people are driving by honking their horns as well, but police have not stopped those demonstrators from doing that because they say they're not causing any trouble at this time.
Regardless, everyone here is on guard as they are waiting for the hour of 2:00, which is rapidly approaching. They are wondering whether the family will remain true to its word of not complying with an Immigration order to surrender this youngster to a nearby airport so that he can be flown to Washington for a long-awaited reunion with his father.
Miami's mayor says that the U.S. government -- by the -- efforts by the U.S. government to oppose a deadline this day was premature.
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MAYOR JOE CAROLLO, MIAMI, FLORIDA: Extremely hurt. Extremely hurt. Just like this mayor feels extremely hurt and let down by my own government.
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CANDIOTTI: Demonstrators here are promising passive resistance if that becomes necessary. That is if to say the U.S. government makes a decision at any time today -- and no decision has been made, we might want to emphasize -- to come to this home to forcibly remove the child. If that happens, these people say that they will form a human chain surrounding the house, that authorities will have to get past them if they want to see this boy leave this home.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.
KAGAN: Susan, thank you very much.
This story, of course, developing on a number of fronts. Now we want to bring in our Bob Franken who is standing by in Bethesda, Maryland outside the home where Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian's father, has been staying for the last week -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he just left a few minutes ago, as you saw live on CNN, and went downtown to the Cuban Interests Section, their offices. This is the residence for the Cuban Interests Section head.
At any rate, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who has gotten increasingly frustrated, decided to bide some time with his wife and his daughter, to go down to a meeting with one of his most outspoken supporters, Randall Robinson, who's the head of TransAfrica, an African nationalist group of some prominence. They're going to have a meeting at 11:00 at the Cuban Interests Section. We're promised by Robinson that he will come out and talk afterwards, the he being Robinson. We'll be talking to him, perhaps, about the videotape of young Elian Gonzalez which is beginning to be shown on CNN and other networks.
The fact is that the impatience is growing by the day, as we found out in an interview from this morning from one of the mediators, Reverend Joan Brown Campbell, who has been involved in this almost since the beginning. She's with the National Council of Churches.
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REV. JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL, FRM. GEN. SECRETARY, NATL. COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: Juan Miguel is -- I think, on the extra mile here, he has tried to be as cooperative as it's possible. It is his own son and you can imagine how frustrating it must be to see him on television and not be able to take hold of him, not be able to hug him, not be able to be a father to him.
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FRANKEN: At the same time this is going along in halting fashion, plans are under way to try and find a spot, Daryn, where they could meet in secret away from the cameras when the reunion occurs. The latest, guessing right now, is that the Vatican embassy in Washington will be the place. I guess it's reinforced by the fact the Vatican has offered the facility and the State Department is looking into it -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Bob Franken in Bethesda, Maryland.
Bob, thank you.
Another site that we're watching and have a correspondent standing by, the Opa Locka Airport just north of Miami.
Let's bring in our Martin Savidge who is standing by there -- Marty.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, Opa-Locka Airport is located about 10 miles north of Miami. It's pretty quiet here at this hour, but it could change throughout the day depending on developments that take place down there in Miami.
This is a private airport, and meaning that it handles private aircraft. But it is also home to the Opa Locka Coast Guard Air Station. That's significant because this is believed to be the point at 2:00 this afternoon when the family has been told that they must bring the child. This is also the place where U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno flew in last night.
Security here has been beefed up. That started very early this morning around 5:00 when there were several hundred police officers that came in. Miami-Dade police say they have 200 officers on-scene here. Some of them are on the outskirts of the airport ringing the perimeter, others are inside here. They are anticipating there could possibly be demonstrators. There's an area that's been set aside for them and they are using what are called "field forces." These would be about four police officers assigned to a police car. There are quite a number of them, and those police cars, of course, make them very mobile. They could move quite quickly to any problem areas in and around the airport, respond -- and they have been outfitted with riot gear should that become necessary.
Right now, they say they're ready, but they also say they're not exactly sure what's going to happen here today -- Daryn.
KAGAN: As I'm sure none of us are in this story.
Martin Savidge at the Opa Locka Airport in Florida, thank you very much.
Security is tight at the airport, and also it's a frustrating situation for the Justice Department. And that's where we have -- actually, in Washington, we have our Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, who is standing by with the latest on the next move from the Justice Department -- Pierre.
PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, we're told that, within the hour, the attorney general will hold a press conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami. Sources tell us that the attorney general will make a personal appeal to the community. She will say, basically, that the community has promised that it will abide by the law. She will also encourage them to have peaceful demonstrations. If they must protest, she wants it done peacefully. She will make a personal appeal.
Again, this Reno's attempt, a personal approach, trying to use her influence. She's from Miami. It is her home town. She's attempting to use her personal appeal to calm the situation down, Daryn.
KAGAN: Pierre, possible scenarios that could play out later today that the Justice Department is getting ready for?
THOMAS: Well, one option they have is to go to federal court to seek an order that would force the family to produce the child. The other option that is actively under consideration as we speak is to have INS agents and/or U.S. Marshals go to the home in business attire, not in provocative law enforcement gear, to get the child. We are told that they would likely go in the home without weapons. They want to make this as peaceful as possible.
Again, this decision will come later today. We're told that if the family does not produce the child right around 2:00, nothing will happen immediately. They will make an on-the-ground assessment at that point, and this decision on whether to go in or not could slide back later in the day or perhaps to tomorrow -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right, Pierre Thomas in Washington, thank you for that.
We're going to take a quick break, and we will be back with more coverage right after this.
KAGAN: Our coverage of the Elian Gonzalez situation continues here on CNN.
I want to bring back in our Susan Candiotti who is in the Little Havana section of Miami.
Susan, tell us a little bit more about the scene that's developing around the great uncle Lazaro Gonzalez's house.
CANDIOTTI: Well, Daryn, the crowd number seems to have evened out now at a few hundred standing behind police barricades. Demonstrators are very peaceful, and so far, in their actions here they have been staying behind police barricades. No one has challenged the authority here. There are an increased number of police officers here as you might well imagine, because after all, they want to make sure that people keep their promise here, the promise of nonviolence. However, a spokesperson for the Miami police department has said that if anyone wants to be arrested, the police department here would be happy to oblige, as he puts it.
Now we can also tell you that earlier this day, federal authorities, here in town, the U.S. marshals, had asked for the Miami police department, to move out the news media here in -- from this area, at about 1:00 this afternoon. However the chief of police, of the Miami police department, William O'Brien we are told, turned down that request, and so it would appear at this time that reporters will be allowed to remain on the street, to observe what goes on, as the day wears on.
Now, there are a few women, I think you see over my shoulder, who are wearing black. These women are members of various Cuban exile groups. They stand around, sometimes sit in front of the fence in front of the home where Elian Gonzalez has been living. From time to time they lock arms, they have prayed the rosary, they say they are here as part of a symbolic gesture, and have been allowed to remain on-site here in protest, over the government's threat, to reunite this boy with his father.
Of course, Juan Miguel Gonzalez has long awaited an opportunity to see his son, who have not together for more than four months now. Juan Miguel Gonzalez has tried to phone his son here, during the past week, since he arrived in the United States. But we are told, according to Juan Miguel Gonzalez, he is not always been successful in getting through to his son, and according to the family here, they repeatedly claim that Elian Gonzalez does not want to go home to Cuba.
Lazaro Gonzalez has now come outside and he is waving to the demonstrators who stand behind police barricades. This not an unusual occurrence. From time to time, Mr. Gonzalez has come out to thank people for their support, and he appears to be gathering strength from them. This is a man who remains defiant, in on one the hand he is saying that he will obey the law, on the other hand, he and his attorneys say they do not recognize the authority of U.S. Immigration when it says that he must surrender the boy by a deadline today at 2:00. Mr. Gonzalez maintains that U.S. Immigration does not have authority over him, in whom they have placed temporary care of his nephew Elian. Mr. Gonzalez claims that U.S. Immigration only can control Elian. And so we are waiting at this time for word from the attorneys representing this Florida family, as to when -- whether or not they will file an injunction to try to prevent U.S. Immigration from forcing him to surrender Elian at an airport nearby here at 2:00 this afternoon. Reportedly a decision has been made to do that, and if that takes place, of course, we will report it to you.
Now Lazaro at this time is addressing the crowd, but we are unfortunately too far away to hear precisely what he has -- is saying. He has in the past thanked them for their support and is probably doing that at this time. And that is pretty much the scene from here as we wait to see how things develop -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Susan, the reaction that the crowd had when Lazaro Gonzalez came out would be a very strong indication of what his celebrity and popularity has become in this community, since this all started.
CANDIOTTI: Yes, indeed, this is a man, you must realize, who is a mechanic by trade, does body work on cars, paints them and the like; and in fact, he has not held steady work. We have learned up until the time when all of this suddenly became -- began to occur. And then it has been reported that as his celebrity has grown, people have been willing to help him out with work. His wife is employed, she works at a clothing factory in a town nearby here and this family certainly has come under the media spotlight.
Marisleysis Gonzalez, Lazaro's daughter of course, has become very well-known because she has been very vocal and is in fact the only member of the family who is fluent in English, and who has taken a front row seat as she has spoken on behalf of this family as they have consistently denied the father the right to see his son.
They have always said that if he wanted to get together, that he should come to this country. Now that he is in United States, they put up restrictions that he needs to come to Miami. And of course, in the last several days, they have demanded that there be a meeting, but on their terms. They have agreed to meet with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, but would only do so if it was only that, a meeting. And then this family said it would decide, whether the boy would be turned over. They have said that they are not convinced until they see Juan Miguel Gonzalez face-to-face whether he is speaking freely, without the influence of the Castro government. However Juan Miguel Gonzalez for his part, has said: he has been speaking freely, and very much wants to be together with his boy.
Of course U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has repeatedly said that she is convinced that this is a father who loves his son, and that the two should be reunited. So this is the family that of course, has gone from complete obscurity to becoming now, world celebrities, on the world stage -- Daryn.
KAGAN: And so we are seeing live pictures, right now, of Lazaro Gonzalez. Any sign of Elian this morning?
CANDIOTTI: No, not yet. We have not seen the youngster. Well, he did come out for just a moment or two. In the past of course, he has come out to play and the family has been very willing, on a daily basis, to let the youngster out to enjoy the crowd and frankly to be seen by photographers. They have also repeatedly brought him out to see the crowds of supporters who would chant his name: "Elian Elian Elian." Over the past few months, this boy has learned how to make the "v for victory" sign, waves to the crowds now when he comes out, is very much aware of the camera's presence. And as a matter of fact, he even made a videotape late last night, we are told by family members here, that the -- their intent was to let him say in his own words, on this videotape, they purport, his own words that he does not want to go back to his father, does not want to go back to Cuba.
KAGAN: All right, Susan Candiotti in Little Havana. We will ask you to stand by. We will come back to you as things develop.
Of course this is the time, and we will continue, of course, to follow the Elian Gonzalez story. This is the time of day when, here on CNN, we usually bring you IN THE MONEY. We do continue to follow the stock market: right now the Dow is down, about 135 points -- 126 points. The Nasdaq is up, which has not really been the case lately.
Our Dan Ronan is standing by at a Charles Schwab, I think you're right here in Atlanta, Dan.
DAN RONAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, for the first time since we have been coming out here, for the last couple months, we found we started to hear some individual investors about how there's a little bit of concern. One gentleman who I spoke to said, anecdotally, he says he came in here this morning, and it has been quite busy, he said. I asked him, I said how is market doing for you sir? And he sort of rolled eyes and looked up at the sky and said: I'm taking a pretty big hit and I've been getting beat pretty badly.
Joining me now is an individual investor, a lady by the name of Amy Coleman (ph).
Amy, you have been investing for the market how long now?
AMY COLEMAN, INDIVIDUAL INVESTOR: Oh, at least 15 years.
RONAN: Any concerns at all about what's going on?
COLEMAN: Not at all. I mean, I think if you're in the market for the long term you're not going to be rolled. I mean, you might be a little bit worried about it but you try to go with the flow.
RONAN: Do you follow that the hits on a daily basis, up and down, watch where this is going?
COLEMAN: I do. Just, out of, you know, curiosity but I try not to, you know, worry about what's happening. I mean, I have a lot of confidence in the economy and where we are going so, I think that is -- I know a lot of people are jittery right now but I think they just need to hang in there, and, you know.
RONAN: Ride it out. COLEMAN: Yes. Exactly.
RONAN: Amy Coleman, an individual investor joining us here at Charles Schwab in Atlanta. We would say that traffic had been quite busy today. Coming up, of course, Monday is tax deadline and many people getting into get their IRAs set up, and get set up before that April 17 deadline.
Dan Ronan reporting live in Atlanta, back to you Daryn.
KAGAN: Dan, thank you very much.
Once again the Nasdaq, up 25 points, the Dow is down 119 points.
We'll take a break, we'll be back right after this.
KAGAN: We continue to follow the Elian Gonzalez story.
Want to go back to our Bob Franken, who is standing by in Bethesda, Maryland, outside the home where Juan Miguel Gonzalez has been staying over the past week -- Bob.
FRANKEN: Well, he has been staying here for the past week, but he has also spent quite a bit of time at the business offices of the Cuban Interests Section, this is the residence, and he has gone down there again.
Juan Miguel Gonzalez, within the hour, along with his wife, and six-month-old son, went down to the Cuban Interests Section. There is a meet going on with head of TransAfrica, that is Randall Robinson. TransAfrica is an African nationalist group which has also been very supportive of Cuba. Robinson has been to Cuba several times, and we are told that this is merely a meeting for Gonzalez to express his thanks for the support that Robinson and TransAfrica have given. There have been any number of meetings like that at the Cuban Interests Section as this drama has played out.
All of this really is marking time until a decision is made, final action is taken, on changing custody of the child, Elian Gonzalez, who is the 6-year-old son of course of Juan Gonzalez. He is still in Miami. There are the very delicate negotiations going on down there, and by all appearances, the people up here, are merely watching as that unfolds.
Of course, while Gonzalez is at the Cuban Interests Section, after he is through with his meeting, perhaps there can be some discussions in area which is relatively secure.
The one thing we have been told is that when the reunion takes place, and we are told that is going to be in the Washington area, probably, if in fact it does take place, it is going to be at a place where there are no cameras -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Bob, earlier today, and we saw it here on CNN, the family, the Miami family, has released a videotape that we understand was taken late last night. It shows the 6-year-old speaking right into the camera, talking to his father, saying: I don't want go back to Cuba. You can come here, but I don't want to go back to Cuba. Have we heard any reaction from the father about having seen his son produce that videotape?
FRANKEN: We have not heard any reaction to that particular tape. We have been told repeatedly that the father has been exceedingly frustrated over the months, seeing his son on television, and not being able to be with him. And, we don't even know for a fact whether he did see the videotape. It is a subject that is bound to come up in conversations going on at the Cuban Interests Section.
We are told by Randall Robinson that when they are through, Robinson will come out and talk to the cameras. I can expect that somebody down there will ask them about that.
KAGAN: All right, Bob Franken standing by in Bethesda, Maryland.
Let's show you a live picture from Miami, from the neighborhood where Elian Gonzalez has been staying. We can do that perhaps, as we go to a quick break, perhaps we can't. We'll get that -- there it is, there is a live picture from Miami, crowds growing. Susan Candiotti on the scene there, reporting that things are staying calm. We still have the media, police, and protesters, right outside the home where Elian Gonzalez has been staying.
We will take a break. Be back after this.
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ANDY GARCIA, ACTOR: ... it is important that we respect the will of the child. If the child -- if the child would be accusing a father, or someone of abusing him here in the States, the child's voice would be herd in the court of law, and, right now, his -- the child's wishes are not being heard. He hasn't been granted an asylum hearing. He has things to say about what his desires are. He is very aware why his mother brought him here, and I think it is important that we listen to the child, and let the child determine what his future is.
We are all willing to live with that future, whatever the child decides where he should go. If he wants to go back to Cuba we would embrace -- I personally would embrace that. But if the child does not want to go back to Cuba, and he expresses that to his father, then why isn't the child allowed to live here, and enjoy the civil liberties that we all enjoy that he will not enjoy back in -- under the totalitarian state of Fidel Castro.
To me, it is a very simple situation, and please let's not be naive to think that he is going to go back to the glories of a free society, and a place where he can grow up with his own civil liberties intact. This is a very delicate issue. I plead to the local community to support this peacefully, and in a democratic manner. And I feel for the families at hand, and I hope they can get together in a room privately and resolve this issue, and let the son speak to father, and let the son express the wishes through to father. If he expresses wishes through his father to go back, then that is between them. But up until now, he has only expressed the wishes to stay here, and to seek asylum.
I ask for the American justice system to please grant this child the ability to be heard, like we also proudly enjoy here. Thank you.
KAGAN: That impromptu comment came from actor Andy Garcia. You might know him from his film work. He came out, to plead that authorities listen to the 6-year-old boy, and say -- he says at least, that if the boy wanted go back to Cuba he would support that, if not, he should be allowed to stay here. Celebrity coming out to support the Miami contingent of the Gonzalez family.
With that, let's bring back in our Bob Franken.
Bob, I don't know if you could hear Andy Garcia speaking in front of the Miami household?
FRANKEN: I did, as a matter of fact, and he has been saying the same thing, a variation of the same thing, that the family has been saying, for quite sometime, as this drama has unfolded. And the father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has been totally unpersuaded by it. There have been any number of discussions about some sort of family meeting, but the father says it not be in Miami. Father says, with the government, the U.S. government supporting him, that he has a right to his child. The federal government proceeds now in this halting decision to ultimately end in the reunification of Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his son Elian Gonzalez after a separation of about four and half months.
Now, the elder Gonzalez left the Cuban residence here -- the Cuban Interests Section just a short while ago, went downtown to the Cuban Interests Section offices in downtown the District of Columbia. There is always very heavy security when he is transported, now a tremendous emphasis on maintaining security. It has been like that since we have been here.
He got to the Cuban Interests Section, and there, he went into another of these meetings he has had with people who he regards as supporters. This particular supporter, was Randall Robinson. Randall Robinson is the head of TransAfrica. It is an organization that came into prominence with big demonstrations at the South African embassy back in the days of Apartheid, given quite a bit of credit for in fact bringing down the Apartheid system in South Africa. It has been an African nationalist organization, but also, expressed support any number of times for Cuba. Robinson, himself, has told me he has taken several trips to Cuba.
So, at any rate, he was invited to the Cuban Interests Section today, and that gave us a chance to see Juan Miguel Gonzalez, as they wait and perhaps behind the scenes are involved in these delicate negotiations that thus far have not resulted in the reunification with the son that he came to United States to see through -- Daryn. KAGAN: Bob, it seems as the tensions rise, this seems to attract even more fringe players, as this goes on and on. Thank you for that report from Bethesda, Maryland.
We are going to keep our cameras on all the sites involved here, and continue to monitor the situation, and we'll take a break and be back after this.
KAGAN: As you know, we are usually talking financial matters at this hour of the day.
Let's get a financial update, Charles Molineaux is at the Nasdaq marketsite in New York City.
Charles, what do you have for us?
CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, a really horrible day for technology stocks has led into a really tumultuous one today. Check it out, the Nasdaq composite is now up by 79 point, at 3848, but we have seen some tremendous swings in this market. Look at what has happened. We have seen it bounce over the course of a range of just about 140 points between a high of 3861, and a low of 3714. So these technology stocks are bouncing around as investors waffle between looking for bargains and the really beaten down stocks, and selling off when they get a chance to, once the market seems to recover.
Some of the most beaten up stocks of yesterday, telecommunications, and biotechnologies are doing well. Also, computer stocks are up by 2 1/2 percent, and the big caps are generally doing better, Microsoft is up by three percent, Sun is up by three, and Intel is also up by four percent. So we are seeing some better performance by a number of these technology names, but as you can see, it has been a volatile day, and nothing is certain.
Some strategists have been looking at the way this market has been bouncing around, and saying that the Nasdaq composite could slide down as low as 3500 or lower if the downward momentum continues. Right now we seem to be churning around in a range which means that investors are wavering between selling and taking what profits they have managed to garner and getting out, or for that matter, taking their losses in fear that the market is going to fall down, and buying, which would boost the market up. So we are seeing a bouncing around action, and some strategists say this could be a sign of a bottom in this market, and the technology stocks are ready to start moving up again. But right now, we do see the Nasdaq composite is up by 74 points at 3843 -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Churning would be good thing considering what have seen over the last week or so.
MOLINEAUX: Churning is improvement.
KAGAN: It is all relative. Charles Molineaux, thank you very much.
After this break, back live to Miami, and Susan Candiotti for the latest on the situation with Elian Gonzalez
KAGAN: Live picture from outside the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, and there he is, using the bull horn to speak to the crowd. He has been out quite a bit this morning. We've seen him just a few moments ago came out and led the crowd in prayer.
Our Susan Candiotti is standing by, we hope she is standing by. There she. Hi, Susan. I understand you've had a chance not the talk to Lazaro Gonzalez, but to one of the family spokespeople about what might be happening there today.
CANDIOTTI: Well, yes, of course we've been speaking to him every day for the last four months, actually. And this day of course he says that the family is anticipating, although no decision has been made, they are anticipating the possibility that federal authorities will follow through on a threat to come to the house to forcibly remove this youngster.
Now we want to stress that, as far as we know, the U.S. Justice Department has not made any decision yet about how this will all play out as the day goes on. However, Lazaro Gonzalez, who is the great uncle of Elian Gonzalez, has said consistently that this U.S. government will have to use force, as he puts it, if they intend on reuniting this boy with his father.
Lazaro Gonzalez has maintained consistently that he wants a face- to-face meeting with Juan Miguel Gonzalez before he will consider turning over the boy to his father. And in fact, just a few days ago, there had been an arrangement made, and an announcement made in fact, by the Cuban-American National Foundation that both the U.S. government and this family had agreed to such a face-to-face meeting.
From there, there is a dispute over exactly what was agreed to. The U.S. government maintaining that this meeting was to include a transfer of the boy no matter what. The Cuban-American National Foundation and Lazaro Gonzalez saying that that wasn't the case, that there was only supposed to be a meeting, and that if the boy balked at returning to his father, then he would not have to go, and it was at that time that Lazaro Gonzalez called off flying to Washington with his nephew Elian just the other day, and now he is saying, remains defiant as ever, even after a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno last night in Miami Beach, a meeting that went on for a few hours, that he is immovable in what he has to say.
And so the demonstrators who stand behind police barricades here have promised that if any action is taken by federal authorities that they will try to cross those police barricades and act with passive resistance to form a human chain around the house, if they are able to do so.
Police, for their part, have been trying to keep order here, and so far have been very successful at doing so. They did put chains across these barricades to hold them together in an effort to keep the crowds back, to keep anyone from crossing the barricades, and so far people have been obeying their orders.
Now, a few hours ago, someone hired a plane to fly a banner across the skies here, and as I recall it said "Elian, God and Miami, we love you."
People have been adding more and more signs as time goes on to say, "Elian, we want you to stay with us." However, the boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, of course, has been saying time and again that the time is long overdue for this family to give him his son.
And U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, after meeting privately with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, without any Cuban government officials present, says that she is convinced that there remains a very strong bond between father and son and she maintains that this father should be reunited with his son.
KAGAN: Susan, as we talk to you, I just want to point out that as we talk to you, we have a split screen, we see you, but we also see -- or see me -- we also see the picture from outside the home, giving people an idea of what the crowds look like there today. It looks like a large crowd, but a peaceful crowd.
CANDIOTTI: Yes, they haven't given the authorities any trouble at all. They use megaphones to chant things from time to time, and when Lazaro Gonzalez came out, a huge cheer arose. They have been showing their support for him throughout.
However, the family remains steadfast in saying that they do not intend to comply with any order by the U.S. government to turn over this boy, and in fact, there is one in place. This family at 2:00 is supposed to be driving Elian Gonzalez, little six-year-old, who only came outside to play briefly, we might add, for a time on a swing set here. But at 2:00 they are supposed to be turning the boy over to an airport, to authorities at an airport not far from here, and where security remains very high and in place for that transfer to take place.
But frankly, we don't expect it to happen. And the attorneys of Lazaro Gonzalez have told us that he has no intention of changing his mind -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right, Susan Candiotti in Miami, we'll have you stand by.
You mentioned the airport, the Opa-Locka Airport, that is where this transfer is set to take place, whether it will or not we will have to wait and seem. Meanwhile, we do have our Martin Savidge standing by there.
Marty, what kind of precautions, what kind of preparations are being made just in case this does happen?
SAVIDGE: Well, right now, Daryn, I think it is safe to say that Opa-Locka airport is under an atmosphere of quiet anticipating. There was a lot of activity this morning, very early, 5:00 a.m., when hundreds of police officers began arriving here at the airport.
They have stationed themselves around the airport perimeter, and there are also officers inside of the airport grounds itself. Many of them here on hand anticipating that, if this transfer did go ahead, if the family came here with the child, there could be a large crowd of demonstrators. They had set aside an area for those people to protest, but so far that area remains vacant, and the police officers, for the most part, have been standing around. There has been no real activity out here at the airport.
They are prepared for it. They are using what are called field forces out here. That is where they take four police officers to a police car and station them so that they can quickly respond to any area of the airport, any place nearby that could have a problem, and those officers are apparently equipped with riot gear should it be needed.
But as we say, no protesters have come here, and there has been no real activity since early this morning. But, as you point out, this is all in anticipation that the handover and that the family would cooperate with that handover and bring the boy here at 2:00. The family has already said they do not intend to follow the order that was directioned to them in a letter.
So it would seem that much of this waiting right now is for nothing based upon what the family has said. What the government does, where the child would go if he was removed by force, presumably coming to this same airport, but that is not guaranteed. So it is just like at the house, a lot of waiting, a lot of wondering, and some worry.
KAGAN: OK, Martin Savidge ant the Opa-Locka Airport.
About 10 mile south of there, we have a shot again to show you. This is of course Lazaro Gonzalez, the great uncle of Elian Gonzalez, outside his own home. Also saw a shot of Manny Diaz, one of the lawyers that has been representing the Miami relatives. They are kind walking around the area where the microphones have been set up outside the home. If they do speak, we will go back to that picture live.
But right now, we want to bring in Bob Franken.
Bob, we heard from Susan Candiotti, there doesn't seem to be any real preparation by the Miami relatives to make this happen at 2:00 p.m. Anything on the father's end in Bethesda, Maryland or Washington, D.C. that would show that he is anticipating this reunion to place later this afternoon?
FRANKEN: Well, he certainly wants it to. Every word that comes out of people who have met with him is he wants this over with, they were expecting it to be over by now, and they are hoping that there is something going on which will suddenly make it happen, although they are aware that this has been a very frustrating, halting kind of negotiation, and they are quite aware that they may have to stick around a little bit more.
Juan Gonzalez has left the residence here of the Cuban Interests section in suburban Washington, Bethesda, Maryland, took his little motorcade down to the businesses office of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. There he is having another one of the meetings that he's had since he has been here. On any number of occasions, he has had, what can only be described as semi-social get-togethers with people who have supported his cause.
The one that's going on now at the Cuban Interests Section is with Randall Robinson. Randall Robinson is the head of TransAfrica, an organization that is describe as African nationalist.
It has a very principal role in the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa so many years ago. Randall Robinson says he's been to Cuba many times, is regarded as somebody who's a friend of that country and has been outspoken in comments over the months that Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his father, allowed to be returned to Cuba.
We're hoping that Robinson will come out and talk to us afterwards and perhaps tell us if the father, Juan Gonzalez, had any sort of reaction to the television tape this morning -- televised tape of his son saying that he didn't want to come back. Any number of people who we've talked to who are supporters of Juan Gonzalez say they believe that he was prompted to say so. We've heard any number of psychologist and psychiatrists say that it's almost irrelevant, that what is really important, they say, is that the family is united in the long run. That will be what's best for the child.
Of course, the argument in Miami among those on the other side is that, in fact, the child would be better off in the United States and his wishes are the be-all, end-all.
We seem to have what appears to be a bit of a stalemate. The negotiations plod on. We're going to be hearing in a few moments from Attorney General Janet Reno who, perhaps, will have some news for us. But for the moment, everybody seems to be in place just watching to see exactly who blinks first and when this comes to an end -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Bob Franken in Bethesda, Maryland. You mentioned Janet Reno.
We want to bring in now our Mark Potter who is outside the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.
Mark -- or actually, you're actually inside, I believe. Are you at the site where the news conference is going to take place?
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're on the second floor of the courthouse here in Miami at the U.S. Attorney's Office awaiting a news conference from Attorney General Reno and INS Commissioner Doris Meissner.
Since early this morning, they have been meeting here with federal and local law enforcement officials discussing the Elian Gonzalez situation, trying to figure out how to respond to these events that keep changing over time.
CNN's Pierre Thomas tells us from Washington that the attorney general is expected to ask the family, once again, to cooperate with the federal officials, and also to ask the community to remain calm, to abide by the law and to demonstrate peacefully.
Now, there are -- the big question, of course, is what are the federal officials going to do if the family, as expected, does not abide by the 2:00 p.m. deadline. There are a couple of options. The federal authorities could go to court asking a judge for an order. The difficulty there is that that could be time-consuming, and the government seems to be rather impatient now as this case progresses. Another option is to go to the house and physically remove the boy. The dangers there are obvious given the crowds and the passions that surround this case -- Daryn.
KAGAN: And, Mark, what time do we expect this news conference with Janet Reno to begin?
POTTER: It was originally scheduled for about seven minutes ago. We just got a high sign that it may be noon-plus. So we'll have to wait and see -- five minutes or so.
KAGAN: We will stick with that noonish commitment. And we, of course, will bring it to you live here on CNN.
Mark Potter in Miami at the U.S. Attorney's Office waiting for that news conference with Janet Reno to begin.
Let's bring in our Greta Van Susteren who's standing by in Washington.
Greta, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hello, Daryn.
KAGAN: At what point would the Miami relatives be breaking the law?
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sorry, Daryn. The sound cut out. What did you say?
KAGAN: I asked you, at what point would the Miami relatives be breaking the law?
VAN SUSTEREN: At the point where the federal marshals or the Immigration Service shows up on the doorstep and says, turn that child over. And if they decline to do that, then at that point, they're probably in violation of the law. If they do any sort of resistance, then they'd be interfering with lawful -- the lawful work of police officers or law enforcement. So that's the particular point where they have a real problem if, indeed, it comes to that.
But I'll tell you, Daryn, one of the things that the family must know, and the lawyers on behalf of the family must know, is that this is not purely at this point a legal matter. They have a hammer to the head of the federal government because if I were one of the lawyers on the side of the family in Miami, one of the things that I would realize is that the last thing the federal government wants to do is to go in there what would appear almost like gang busters and drag a crying kid out of a house and see that footage over and over and over again in media. The federal government really wants to negotiate this, and the family in Miami, I'm sure, is very much aware that they, in some ways, they have some power, not a lot.
KAGAN: Any legal options power-wise that the Miami relatives can pull out at this point before 2:00 p.m.? Any kind of stay or court order, appeal -- anything?
VAN SUSTEREN: What they can do is they can ask the United States Court of Appeals for a stay. If the United States Court of Appeals issued a stay on the federal district court judge's order which said that the attorney general has custody -- she gets to make the decisions about where the child goes, whether he goes back to his father and then back to Cuba or not -- that stay would, in essence, postpone the effect of that trial court's decision. So that would put things on hold.
So if you want to go strictly by the law, what they need is the U.S. Court of Appeals to say, look, we issue a stay. Everybody stop. We want to review whether the trial court judge was correct when he ruled that Attorney General Janet Reno is the one to make the decision in this case. But that would only be a temporary postponement until the court can considers it.
KAGAN: And as we continue to talk we're seeing pictures again -- once again -- from outside the home of Lazaro Gonzalez in Miami where Elian is staying. And you see him out front of his house right now.
Greta, in this case, how important is possession -- in terms of having possession of Elian?
VAN SUSTEREN: Possession's important, Daryn, but -- see, the family in Miami doesn't really have the law on its side. But as you point out, they have possession because, you know, the last thing that the federal government wants to do, as I said, is they didn't want to do anything that would appear to incite violence or to look like they're being too aggressive with a child.
So possession is important. I'd rather have the law on my side than simply possession, but it certainly doesn't hurt when you have a case that's not simply about law. This is about emotion, this about politics, this is about an international feud between two countries that's gone on for decades. It certainly is, you know, a powerful tool, but it's not necessarily the end-all. What the federal government would love to have is to figure out some bargain where this line that's drawn in the sand will somehow vanish and they can negotiate something that will work out for both sides. But as we see these crowds and as we approach this deadline with no action, of course it seems very unlikely. But who knows?
KAGAN: Who knows? That seems to be the catch phrase for this story all along. I don't know that wishful thinking is going to help us at this point or help the people in Miami or the father.
Greta Van Susteren, thank you very much for joining us from Washington.
We, of course, continue to monitor the situation in Miami, in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Opa Locka Airport, up and down the East Coast as you see a live picture of Elian Gonzalez's great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, as we get closer and closer, just about two hours to the deadline that the federal government has given this man to turn the 6- year-old boy back over to his father, Juan Miguel Gonzales.
We'll take a break, and the news will continue on CNN at the top of the hour.
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