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Special Event

Joan Brown Campbell: Juan Miguel Gonzalez Left with 'a Sense of Frustration'

Aired April 14, 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: Our Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman just reported that Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of Elian, was meeting today with ecumenical leaders in Washington. One of those leaders is speaking now.

Here's Joan Brown Campbell.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: ... I think more than anything that I've seen him react to since he's been here, he reacted to that video, not because of its content, but because of the way in which -- the way in which Elian appeared to be being coached as to what to say.

QUESTION: Do you get the impression that Juan Miguel may soon come to media and express his case directly, at a time that he has got so much talked about?

CAMPBELL: Yes, I think he will. You know, it appeared in the very beginning that the wise move was for him to keep his counsel until such time as he had his boy back. Now, I think there has to be some thinking because we don't know how long that will be, hopefully it will not be long.

The government did present their argument this morning, but I don't think certainly -- I'm not able to predict what that would be. I, like Juan Miguel, thought that yesterday would be the day in which they would be reunited. So we're all disappointed.

QUESTION: In talking with him, do you get a sense that the U.S. keeps drawing these lines in the sand and they keep getting so easily crossed that he must such a building sense of frustration?

CAMPBELL: He does have a sense of frustration. He is also aware that he doesn't know everything that's going on. I mean, none of us do. I think he continues to say that when he has his son, when he's able to hold him, when he is able to talk to his son himself, then conversations with the family, all other things are possible. But not to set all these hoops, and then you know, change the ground rules before he has his son. That's his primary concern.

QUESTION: Is he tempted ever to go down to Miami. I know Janet Reno said he believed he would be in danger. Can you tell us how he feels about that possibility?

CAMPBELL: I think he does not want to have a conversation with the family until such time as he has his son back. No, I think he's probably not tempted to do that. That would be difficult for him at this point unless there was a promise that that the boy would be turned over to him.

QUESTION: Has he tried to talk to Elian? He keeps getting hung up on?

CAMPBELL: Yes, he has tried to talk to Elian a number of times. In my presence, he tried three times, including using my cell phone, to see if that number was being blocked. And he gets an answering that is full.

One of the difficulties for him, which I know you know, is that the Miami family has complete control over access to his son. And that is very tough to take, to have someone else have complete access.

I would think that people could understand why he has difficulty having a conversation with that family. They have not made his son available to him.

That's all for now. Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what his schedule is for the rest of the day? Is he going to be down?

CAMPBELL: He will be down for a while. And then I think he is going to a meeting. But I don't think it is involving strategy about the case at this point.

QUESTION: Meeting with supporters type of thing?

CAMPBELL: Probably, yes. He's, you know, he's like the rest of us. He waits now to see what it means from the government's case, how soon they decide?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

CAMPBELL: Not this afternoon. I don't think so.

QUESTION: Do you think he wants to come and talk? This is the second -- While you were at the mikes, he came down and tried to come over again. We understand at the Cathedral he also looked like he wanted to talk.

CAMPBELL: He did say at the cathedral, he said "I want my son back."

QUESTION: Would you take our request that we come to speak to us, please?

CAMPBELL: It would be glad to take it in.

QUESTION: Would you give us notice? CAMPBELL: Yes, I would be glad to give you some notice.

Thank you. Thanks for your patience and your coverage, it helps.

ALLEN: Again, Joan Brown Campbell, one of the leaders who has been working to support Juan Miguel Gonzalez while he is here in the United States trying to regain custody of his son. And sharing with us, reiterating that he is feeling growingly frustrated that he hasn't been able to be with his son yet, even saying that he has tried to call several times to talk with Elian, but he can't get through.

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