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Elian Gonzalez Handover Standoff: Juan Miguel Tours National Cathedral; Legal Wrangling Delays Father-Son Reunion

Aired April 14, 2000 - 2:01 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 begin with the Elian Gonzalez story. Elian is still with his Miami relatives in Little Havana today and all the legal wrangling is forcing Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to wait even longer for a reunion with his son.

CNN's Lucia Newman join us from Washington with the latest. She's just spoken briefly with Juan Miguel -- Lucia.

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

Well, Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his family left the United Methodist building just a short while ago to return to their Bethesda residence. While here, they met with ecumenical leaders. There were prayers, long conversations of support. I was able to speak to him briefly. He told me that he was feeling frustrated but also still hopeful. All I can do, he told me, is to wait -- just to keep waiting. And I asked him how long he thought that would be. He shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, said he didn't know.

Now, also in this meeting was his attorney, Gregory Craig. They met for roughly half an hour. Mr. Craig left. He did not make any statements to the news media. Before coming to the United Methodist building, accompanied by the Reverend Joan Brown Campbell, who was the former head of the National Council of Churches and who has been playing a very important role, a very active role throughout this whole conflict over this boy, Elian. They had gone earlier to Washington's National Cathedral. Inside, he took a short tour, and we were told there was a prayer said for him by the dean of the National Cathedral.

The Reverend Joan Campbell accompanied him since early this morning. As you'll recall, Natalie, she went to Cuba, she organized the visit by the grandmothers to this country and her organization is still being very, very supportive of Juan Miguel Gonzalez. They are on their way now back to the residence in Bethesda -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Lucia Newman on the story from Washington.

A hearing on a civil action filed by attorneys for the Florida relatives of Elian Gonzalez has been put off until next week. The suit asked for a permanent injunction and a temporary restraining order to keep the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration from taking the Elian back to Cuba. CNN's Mark Potter is trying to keep all of this legal maneuvering straight for us. He joins us now with more from Miami -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Natalie. There's a lot to keep track of.

Let me firs tell you about the scene here in Miami. It's a much different scene than we all saw yesterday. It's very quiet here in Miami's Little Havana at the house where Elian has been staying with his relatives. I think that is in -- due in good measure to the weather that we're having. We've downpours today. It's been miserable and there aren't many people out on the streets anywhere, and that's certainly the case here. We've seen a few dozen protesters here at the fence near the house, but nothing like yesterday.

A short while ago, Lazaro Gonzalez came out and talked to the crowd briefly. And we just saw the arrival of one of the family lawyers, Manny Diaz. We do not know why he's here, and hopefully we can talk to him afterward.

This, of course, in stark contrast to the situation yesterday when there were hundreds of people here. There was lots of excitement and anticipation, particularly around the 2:00 p.m. hour when Lazaro Gonzalez and the Miami relatives were to have turned Elian over to his -- to U.S. authorities and eventually to his father. As we all know, that did not occur. That was an order issued by the Justice Department that Lazaro Gonzalez did not obey.

Now, beside the weather, there is another reason that things are quiet here, and that is that basically everything is on hold as all eyes are now on the courts. As you said, there are a number of legal maneuvers. Probably the most important is the one in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The family lawyers are asking for a temporary restraining order there that would prohibit Elian from being sent to Cuba before the appeals are over. And the government has responded today and has gone one step beyond and is asking the court to issue an order that would force the family to return Elian to his father.

In exchange for such an order, the government says it would be willing to guarantee that Elian stay in the United States for the length of the appeals process. It would do that by issuing what is known as a departure control order. We do not know when the judges in Atlanta will rule.

There is another matter to keep an eye on. That is in Washington. You mentioned it before. That's a civil suit that has been filed by the family asking that Elian not be sent to Cuba because it would violate his human rights. The lawyers arguing that the situation there in Cuba is such that Cuba is out of step with human rights declarations internationally and that Elian's rights would be violated if he was sent there. The judge in that case has said that he would not rule -- or hold a hearing on that case until at least next week.

So a lot to sort out and everybody here is just quietly watching to see what happen.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: Mark Potter in Miami.

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