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Cuba-Americans Set to Protest Reno Speech in MiamiAired May 25, 2000 - 2:19 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A speech by Attorney General Janet Reno is expected to draw hundreds of protesters in Miami tonight, Miami is her hometown. Cuban-Americans say demonstrations are planned by land, on the sea and in the air.
More from CNN's Mark Potter.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this hotel in Bal Harbour, near Miami, Attorney General Reno will be the keynote speaker at a Florida Bar Association dinner honoring the state's first women lawyers. Ms. Reno was invited last fall, just before Elian Gonzalez was rescued.
EDITH OSMAN, PRES., FLORIDA BAR ASSOCIATION: It is not about anything political. It was never meant to be a political event. It was meant to be a joyous celebration.
POTTER: But because of the attorney general's decision to forcibly return Elian to his father, Reno's return to the Miami area has, indeed, become a political event. Members of the Cuban-American Bar Association refuse to attend the commemorative dinner. In a written statement, the group said: "this raid was contrary to the democratic traditions of our great nation. This matter involves the American Constitution and civil liberties." The association went on to say that it: "is seriously concerned about the sensitivity of the entire community to the attorney general's actions."
Outside the hotel, various groups will demonstrate during the Reno visit. Ramon Saul Sanchez, a Cuban-American activists, says his group will protest the Justice Department's treatment of children and immigrants. Nadia Pierre of Haitian American United says her organization will protest the treatment of Haitian immigrants.
NADIA PIERRE, V.P., HAITIAN AMERICAN UNITED: The Haitians have always been treated very unfairly, unequally, and unjust where the INS is concerned.
POTTER: Yet another group is expected to demonstrate in support of the attorney general.
OSMAN: I've never felt this much tension in the community. I've never felt this much sort of, distrust of one another. I would love to find a way to do something about it.
POTTER (on camera): The Bar Association president says if invitations were made today, Attorney General Reno probably would not be selected as keynote speaker because of the community tensions. A celebration of women's courage and achievement has now become a political controversy.
Mark Potter, CNN, Bal Harbour, Florida.
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