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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case: As Deadline Approaches, Miami Relatives Remain at Home, Intending to Defy Handover Order

Aired April 13, 2000 - 1:30 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: Updating the Elian Gonzalez situation, the child remains in the Miami home of his great uncle, Lazaro, and it's still unclear when or if that will change. The Justice Department's deadline for Elian's Miami relatives to turn the boy over is barely 40 minutes away.

And as you've seen, there are no indications the relatives or the hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the house are in any mood to comply. Attorney General Janet Reno remains in Miami as well, having failed to persuade Elian's South Florida family members to allow a father and son reunion.

At noontime news conference Reno said she won't send federal marshals to pick up Elian by force, at least not right away, if her deadline is ignored.

Let's go back out to the home outside Lazaro Gonzalez's home with Susan Candiotti with the latest from there -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Well, when that hour approaches, as that hour approaches, the hour of 2:00, when the family here is ordered to take 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to an airport nearby, it is quite clear, according to the family, that they don't intend to comply, and of course, hearing what Janet Reno had to say, we're waiting to get their reaction to that. But we do know, according to a U.S. government official, that there will be some sort of an attempt at a communication between government officials, the Justice Department, U.S. Immigration, to the Gonzalez family and their attorneys to find out for sure whether the family -- what the family intends to do.

Beyond that, the U.S. government official would not indicate what steps might be taken after that. Of course, they still have the option of going to a federal court here in Miami to ask that a judge order this family to comply. However, the Justice Department has not indicated for sure whether it would do that.

Now, let's take a look now at the hundreds of people who have gathered behind police barricades, going back about two, three, possibly or more blocks. At this time, Marisleysis Gonzalez, Elian's cousin, who has been taking care of him, is standing at the police barricades, and they brought out just a moment ago several jugs of water, and she is helping to distribute the water to that crowd.

It is a very, very hot day here in Miami, and so the crowd cheered when they saw her bring that thing out. So it is -- Even the smallest gestures here are greeted with applause by this crowd, including when her uncle went over to address them and to thank these people for their support.

However that uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, does indeed remain defiant that he does not intend to voluntarily surrender this boy, in fact, he has said they'll have to use force to come get him unless he decides to take a different position, and we have no indication that he intends to do so.

That is the situation here at this hour. There were some mayors here, the mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County, who addressed this crowd a little bit earlier and addressed the cameras, primarily, to indicate that they're calling for peaceful demonstrations. And so far, Natalie, that's what we have seen.

ALLEN: Susan, how much larger are the crowds out there today -- is the crowd larger?

CANDIOTTI: Well, every day so far this week, frankly, when we get here very, very early in the morning before the sun comes up, there have only been a handful of people. Generally, by midday there have been about 30 to 40, and it has remained that way, except for today. There were already about a hundred people when we arrived, and now there are several hundred people, and they stretch back about three to four blocks.

But no one has made an attempt to jump any barricades. The police have chained them together, and so far they have been able to keep order without any problem whatsoever.

ALLEN: And other than the video that has been aired of Elian today, has he been seen outside the home?

CANDIOTTI: Not other than that. He came out to play on his slide for a little while, and then went back indoors. Perhaps it's even a little too warm for him to be out here this day. We really don't know and the family spokesperson hasn't said how he has been spending his time.

ALLEN: All right, Susan Candiotti at her post there. We'll continue to be in touch with you.

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