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Elian Gonzalez Case: Lazaro Gonzalez, U.S. Justice Department Remain Unmovable, Await Federal Appeals Court Ruling

Aired April 17, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A federal appeals court could issue a ruling today on whether Elian Gonzalez must remain in the U.S. while lawyers continue the legal battle over his future. Despite an INS order revoking the custody rights of Elian's Florida family, the boy still remains at his family's home in Little Havana.

That is where we find CNN's Susan Candiotti live with us now -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill.

Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, refuses to budge in defiance of an immigration order to surrender 6-year-old Elian to his father. Lazaro Gonzalez has said, if authorities want this boy, they can come to this house and get him.

So since Lazaro Gonzalez and the U.S. Justice Department are two seemingly unmovable forces, it is hoped a federal appeals court in Atlanta can break the logjam. The Florida relatives want the court to order Elian to stay in U.S. through their appeals. The U.S. government is against that motion, but says, if that's what the court wants, the Justice Department prefers an order for the Florida relatives to surrender the child to his father in return for a binding promise that Elian would remain in the U.S. during the appeals process.

Now Sunday night, Elian's father Juan Miguel Gonzalez defended himself against the family's accusations that he is abusive to his son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, ELIAN'S FATHER (through translator): Well, I'm note saying that, as a father, that with my son -- at a certain time, every father, when a child does something mischievous, well, you could always spank your own son, but hurt him? I never hurt him and I never hurt his mother either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno says she has heard no credible evidence that Juan Miguel Gonzalez is abusive.

Demonstrators keeping their watch in site of the boy's Little Havana home remain skeptical of the father's motives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He here's because of Castro and what Castro wants him to do and Castro wants him to gain. And he better go back with that boy. If you're Juan Miguel, you're scared, you better go back with that boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is America so blind to not see that the Cuban dictator are the ones that are running this show?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: The Miami relatives of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez have asked the government not to take any enforcement action during this Christian holy week. However, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno is making no promises -- Bill.

HEMMER: Susan Candiotti live in Miami. Susan, thank you.

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