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Fidel Castro Calls for Return of Elian Gonzalez at May Day Celebration

Aired May 1, 2000 - 2:00 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 top story, the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez have only about two hours to file a response in federal court to their request for political asylum for Elian. Today's court papers will attempt to rebut the government's contention filed several days ago that a 6-year-old is not able to request political asylum. That question of asylum will be before a federal appeals court in Atlanta on the 11th of May.

We will keep you posted of any developments today as they happen.

Elian's fate was very much on the minds of Cubans who turned out in force for today's May Day celebrations. In fact, today marked the first time in many years that Cuban President Fidel Castro has made a public May Day address, and topic a, his remarks about Elian.

He said the U.S. government is still trying to keep the boy in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIDEL CASTRO, PRESIDENT OF CUBA (through translator): This little boy miraculously floated and survived during -- survived by floating more than 30 hours on a -- on a floater. This irresponsible government of the United States took this young man, such as a prize and a trophy, for their own publicity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: For more now on Elian's inclusion on the May Day celebrations there in Havana, let's go to CNN's Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman. She joins us by telephone -- Lucia.

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Natalie. Indeed, Cubans from all over the communist island answered the government call to participate in this year's May Day celebrations, which, as you know, is one of the most important events in the socialist calendar. This May Day, of course, turned out to be the biggest rally to date to demand the return of Elian Gonzalez, and now also his father, his half-brother and his stepmother to Cuba.

President Castro accused the United States of trying to keep Juan Miguel Gonzalez, the father, in the United States indefinitely in the hopes of enticing him to defect with his son. Now after his speech, Castro approached the microphone again, saying he received a call from Elian's father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTRO (through translator): It's Juan Miguel. Juan Miguel is on the phone.

(APPLAUSE)

What do you want me to tell them? What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWMAN: After the call, the Cuban leader, clad for the first time in memory in sneakers, led the procession for a roughly two-mile walk to Cuba's recently inaugurated protest plaza. It's located directly in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission here, a way of ending the day, at least symbolically, by telling Washington what Havana thinks of it -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Lucia Newman on the line from Havana, thank you.

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