Cheered by thousands of Cubans, the grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba yesterday to a celebrity welcome after a U.S. trip that stirred public opinion but failed to bring their grandson home.
The women, Raquel Rodriguez and Mariela Quintana, spent nine days in the United States lobbying for the return of 6-year-old Elian, who is at the center of a highly politicized custody tug-of-war between his father in Cuba and distant relatives in Miami.
Elian was rescued at sea after a boat carrying Cuban migrants capsized, drowning his mother and 10 others who were trying to get to the United States. In Miami’s Cuban exile community, protests have been made in court and on the street to keep the child in the United States.
Elian Gonzalez has become a “cause celebre” against Cuban president Fidel Castro for the conservative Cuban American exiles in Miami, where so far two judges who had been assigned the case had to admit that they had political ties to Elian’s Miami relatives, and a nun who hosted a meeting between the grandmothers and the child was later revealed to have ties with the conservative Cuban American National Foundation. Hundreds of people participated in a protest in Miami over the weekend asking the U.S. government to send Elian Gonzalez home to his family.
- Rev. Lucius Walker, from Pastors for Peace, which organized this weekend’s demonstration in Miami.