Abduction of Elian was a terrible abuse of federal...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 26, 2000

Abduction of Elian was a terrible abuse of federal authority

We are outraged over the violent kidnapping of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez in the pre-dawn hours Saturday morning from his Miami family.

We want to know why this little boy and his Miami family were not permitted a fair hearing in family court.

Anyone who thinks that Elian should be returned to his father, who is a pawn of Fidel Castro, should be reminded that in Cuba Elian would be a ward of the state.

Would they want their children to grow up under a harsh communist dictator? Have they forgotten that Elian's mother and others have risked their lives to escape from Cuba?

Elian's Miami family and the Miami Cuban-Americans have been vilified by the media and the Clinton administration.

We admire the courage and determination they've shown in trying to protect Elian.

The real villains are Bill Clinton and Janet Reno for failing to give Elian asylum.

Our hearts go out to Elian and his Miami family. We are saddened and ashamed by this kidnapping.

Charles Moulton and Laura Moulton, Joppa

The failure of the negotiations between the U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and the Gonzalez family on Elian's reconciliation with his father was predictable.

What was not predictable, and also most deplorable, was the reprehensible way federal authorities entered the Gonzalez residence to obtain Elian.

If it weren't for the differences in uniform, one might relate this event to the intrusions made by the Nazi Gestapo in their hunt for hiding Jews.

The patience and understanding the government previously showed in this matter will soon be forgotten. This insensitive intrusion will remain with us forever.

Sy Steinberg, Baltimore

Just how I want my country portrayed: A black-outfitted officer pointing a gun at a child. The only thing missing was the Nazi insignia on his helmet.

The government's response was grossly disproportionate to the offense. And all to send a child back to slavery.

Harold Screen, Baltimore

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno made another wrong decision. Armed agents were once again used against U. S. citizens by our Justice Department.

The images of this heavily armed SWAT team taking this child from unarmed American citizens will remain in our minds forever. They will be a permanent record of Ms. Reno's poor judgment.

This action shows how easily government can trample our freedoms.

Murray Spear, Baltimore

If Elian returns to Cuba, we'll be haunted by it

Ten or 15 years from now, this country will repent for allowing an aging Cuban dictator to pressure the Clinton administration enough that a 6-year-old is removed at gunpoint from the unarmed relatives who lovingly took responsibility for him when he washed up on our shores.

Will that same Cuban government now permit Juan Gonzalez to raise his son?

To those who see Fidel Castro as a benign old man, the question will seem moot.

To those who remember that Elian's mother had been in custody for questioning by Fidel's minions before fleeing Cuba in a rickety boat, the question will haunt.

Patricia Shirley,Timonium

The pictures tell the story, but which shot, whose story?

The Sun's large, front-page picture on Easter morning (April 23) of Elian Gonzalez being removed from his relatives' home was disappointing, even outrageous.

After several months, the child was finally reunited with his father.

The Sun's editorial hit the nail on the head ("Elian Gonzalez needs his dad now," April 23). Why not let the chief illustration of the issue do the same?

Mary R. Erb, Baltimore

It would have been better to have enlarged the photo of Elian and his father on the Sunday front page than that of him being removed from his keepers.

Elian should have been with his Dad long ago. His relatives caused this confrontation. They gave the Justice Department no choice.

John N. Leatherwood, Odenton

Elian Gonzalez' relatives should be commended for creating the right Kodak moment, appealing to peoples' sympathies, using the standard legal delaying tactics and brainwashing a 6-year-old.

When everything went against them, the family denied the legitimacy of the legal system and set up a situation where force is needed and a frightened, crying child can be photographed being "abducted" by the big, bad government.

Zev Griner, Reisterstown

The Justice Department finally did the right thing

Given the emotional and dangerous situation in Miami regarding custody of Elian Gonzalez, federal authorities should be congratulated on a job well done.

After giving Elian's Miami relatives numerous chances to obey immigration and custody laws, they executed a precision operation and Elian was returned to his loving father with no serious injuries.

The potential dangers were obvious, yet the operation was quite successful.

Let the second-guessers rant and rave: In the final analysis the world's greatest country solved a perplexing custody case with international implications and remained committed to the rule of law.

Iver Mindel, Cockeysville

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