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Elian Gonzalez Case: Marshals Move Elian and Family; Reno Meets with Senators; Miami Closes Down in Work Stoppage; Some Marlins Players Sit

Aired April 25, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in the last hour, a surprise announcement from U.S. marshals.

CNN's Patty Davis joins us from outside the main gate at Andrews Air Force Base -- Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The surprise announcement here at Andrews Air Force Base that Elian Gonzalez, his father, his father's second wife and their baby have indeed been moved. Here is what U.S. marshal spokesman had to say to reporters about 20 minutes ago.

U.S. marshal spokesperson Drew Wade said that Elian and his family were moved at 12:45 today. They were moved to an undisclosed location here in the United States. The U.S. Marshal Service says it will continue to provide security for Elian and his family.

Elian and his family have been here since Saturday when they were flown in after the INS and the Justice Department moved in to take him from his Miami relatives. His Miami relatives came here today to Andrews Air Force Base, for the fourth day in a row, trying to see the boy and for the fourth day in a row, they were turned around. U.S. marshals and security guards greeting them, once again at the gate, they had a three-van caravan, they were turned around, told that they had to leave the premises.

Now, here we go again with the spokesman for the U.S. Marshal Service, let's listen in.


DREW WADE, SPOKESMAN, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: Today 12:45 p.m. the United States Marshal Service moved Elian Gonzalez and family from Andrews Air Force Base. The family is moving to an undisclosed location domestically, the Marshal Service will continue its protective detail on Juan Miguel Gonzalez and Elian.


DAVIS: So Elian Gonzalez says that -- U.S. Marshal Service spokesperson said: "no longer here at Andrews Air Force Base," an undisclosed location. At this point, we don't know where that is -- Lou and Natalie.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Patty, we have another new development in this saga. The State Department says it will expedite visa requests for several of Elian Gonzalez's classmates and their parents to travel and visit with him. This -- travel from Cuba and visit with him. This comes as the attorney general Janet Reno was summoned to the United States Capitol today for a closed-door session with U.S. Senators about Saturday's predawn raid in Miami's Little Havana.

With the latest on these developments, CNN's Chris Black up on Capitol Hill -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as Patty's report shows, events are very much outstripping any congressional action in the Elian Gonzalez case. The attorney general, Janet Reno met for almost two hours with a group -- a small group of Senators behind closed doors, defending her decision to send federal agents in to take the boy away and return him to his father. But at the same time as she was talking to the Senators, the State Department was clearing the way to bring some of Elian's classmates to the United States.


JAMES RUBIN, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Juan Miguel Gonzalez has requested, through his attorneys, that we expedite the review of visas for a small number of Elian's playmates. Each of which would be accompanied by an adult family member. So that they may visit with Elian for a relatively brief period of time. We have agreed to expedite consideration of these visas.


BLACK: According to the Senators who met with Janet Reno earlier today, she changed no minds in her meeting with them. Connie Mack and Bob Graham, the two Senators from Florida are calling for public hearings, particularly to explore the government's decision to make a show of force in going in to recover the boy. Connie Mack, in fact, said it was inappropriate and excessive.


SEN. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: I am going to recommend to the majority leader that the Senate engage in a hearing and/or hearings with respect to the use of force. As I have said over the last couple of days I am deeply troubled, horrified as a matter of fact, that our government would use armed force in a family home to remove a 6-year- old child at gun point.


BLACK: But two other senators, Pat Leahy from Vermont and Christopher Dodd from Connecticut, said that the attorney general made a compelling case for her decision. They said that she went systematically through the events leading up to her decision to send in the federal agents and that she told them the situation was rapidly deteriorating. The government feared that there were guns in the house, they feared there might be guns in the crowd. They said that the child was not in a good situation because he couldn't even sleep through the night, because of the round-the-clock vigils that were underway. And they also said they were very concerned that the Miami family would never give up the child without a show of force.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: We don't need more politics in the Elian Gonzalez case. We do need some decisions made around here on issues that affect average lives of citizens in this country, such as gun control. And so I would strongly recommend that the idea of a hearing be nixed. Let's get back to the real business of this body, of the Senate of the United States and not further politicize the life of this infant child.


BLACK: No public hearings have yet been scheduled and Senator Bob Smith from New Hampshire just told reporters that he thought they were unlikely because the court hearing would be taking place before a congressional hearing could take place.

And finally one last note, Senator Pat Leahy made an interesting point during his press conference, he said a great irony of this case is that the Miami relatives had hoped to hurt Fidel Castro and help their young relative Elian, but he said in the end, Elian was hurt and Fidel Castro was helped.

Chris Black, CNN, reporting live from Capitol Hill.

ALLEN: Well, parts of Miami are relatively deserted today, as many members of the Cuban-American community there staged a work stoppage.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Little Havana to give us a sense of how widespread this general strike is -- Susan.


Well, Miami-Dade County, by no means, is paralyzed. However, some businesses have shut their doors in peaceful protest against the seizure of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. This neighborhood shopping strip, for example, every business closed. The same story in other parts of Miami. Some gas stations, supermarkets, drugstores, restaurants participating in the work stoppage: 5,000 county employees did not report to their jobs. At one elementary school where 98 percent of the enrollment is Hispanic, only 13 percent of the student body showed up, two-thirds of the teachers did not. The kids who were there had some very personal attention today, we are told, studying phys. ed. and music. The school's principal says she is not surprised by the parent's participation in the protest.


ANA CASAS, PRINCIPAL, KINLOCH PARK ELEMENTARY: If the parents want to show solidarity, yes, I think it's good that they have shown solidarity. I knew they were going to show solidarity. I had very vocal and active parents that were very much involved in this Elian saga and actually, what most of them had expressed is the violence which with the kid was taken. They are very adamant about this deal and how it was handled.


CANDIOTTI: Organizers are calling this a "day of mourning" for many Cuban exiles, in contrast to recent violent protests against the seizure of the boy. Now Major League Baseball is also taking a hit from the Elian Gonzalez controversy.

For more on that let's go live to my colleague, CNN National correspondent Gary Tuchman -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Susan, the Florida Marlins baseball team is 13-8, that is the Marlins' best start ever to the delight of their fans who watched their 1997 World Series champions become baseball's worst team in 1998 to 1999. But tonight, as the Marlins get a chance, against the San Francisco Giants, to win and move into first place with a victory. they going to have to do it without some of their players. Because all of the Cuban-Americans and Cubans who play or work for the Florida Marlins baseball team have decided to participate in the Elian Gonzalez work stoppage.

One of the players not playing tonight is third baseman Mike Lowell, he's the top RBI guy for the Marlins this year, he's batting .300, he will not be in the game tonight, he is a Cuban-American. Also pitcher Alex Fernandez, who pitched last night and got a victory against the Phillies, he's not playing tonight, although he probably wouldn't pitch tonight, because he pitched last night. Two other pitchers, Vladimir Nunez and Michael Tejera also will not be here in the stadium. Both of those men defected from Cuba. In addition, four coaches or assistants also will not be at the ballpark.

Now yesterday, reporters talked with pitcher Alex Fernandez.


ALEX FERNANDEZ, FLORIDA MARLINS PITCHER: Personally, I'm not sho --I'm not coming tomorrow, I'm not coming here tomorrow and it's just -- it's to make a point, and I'm a Cuban-American and I'm proud to say that and you won't be seeing me here tomorrow.

DAVE DOMBROWSKI, MARLINS GENERAL MANAGER: Basically, we allowed all of our employees, that are in a position where they feel passionate about the situation, that they are free to honor what's taken place and to take the day off, and they're in a position where it will be a pay day for them.


TUCHMAN: So the players here will get paid even though they're not playing, unlike many other Cuban-Americans here in Miami-Dade County who have been told if they want to take off, they can do it, but they will have to use vacation time, comp time or get their paycheck docked.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, live at ProPlayer Stadium, in Miami.



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