Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

18 de Febrero del 2000

WHY ARE PEOPLE ASKING: "HOW MUCH LONGER?" By Orestes Martín Pérez, Cuba Free Press.

Pinar del Río.- "How much longer?!" That's the question most repeated by people today. It is an expression of fatigue about a problem that started as news and that propaganda has now transformed into a litany. Of course we are referring to the litigation involving the child Elián González.

The authorities here seemingly have given the inexcusably mandatory directive that some event about the subject must be celebrated every day starting at 5:00 p.m, and that the event be broadcast by all radio stations and both television channels. As if that were not enough, the newscasts and later the written press discuss the occurrences and channel 6, starting at 9:30 p.m, rebroadcasts each interminable speech!

As a consequence, part of the children's programming offered by channel 6 and many shows that adults prefer to watch at night are in recess indefinitely. But worse still is the state of mind created in people by the extreme reiteration of a populist message manipulated by the same worn out methods.

One such method is the use of children reciting memorized words teeming with texts and conclusions dictated by adults and having no characteristics of children's speech. Those texts and conclusions are such that they require more meditation before being expressed, even by adults.

The upgrading of political propaganda by all means of mass communication had already started (before Elián's case), in connection with the so called "Lawsuit of the Cuban people against the United States government." This claim gave place eventually to our current quarrel.

The latter should have another inherent side-show segment, naturally or as the result of a stretch. This would guarantee that the current quarrel have a successor. That way we could proceed with the same foolishness forever.

The problem itself is not alien to Cubans' sensitivity. Therefore and from the start, the case of the boat child was followed with sincere interest. But, manipulation of the case on both sides of the straits has bored most people. So has the marked interest by this side in trying to squeeze the maximum political juice out of what is above all a family matter.

That squeezing has been done through the beaten path of transforming the issue into a matter of the people involving patriotism and revolution. That has caused people to retire once again into the narrow circle of the harsh national reality. Cubans have too many other problems to focus on than one that departs more every day from its true essence.

Somebody was telling me a little jokingly that it would be more logical to "unleash military action against Miami" or to perform a "commando raid" to bring back the boy than this endless show. In actuality we are not responsible for the problem and yet we are the ones being punished as such.

Therefore each day fewer and fewer people believe that the child should be returned. Those who refrain from taking the opposite stand simply indulge in joining the group of those who do not care one way or the other. They are upset by the undue course of manipulation and misrepresentation that has taken place.

Many people express the desire that the child be returned not to fulfill the father's right but to free themselves from the interminable litany. But a few people, a little more suspicious, respond with the argument that if the child "is liberated" then "we are really gonna know what hardships mean!"

In the meantime it seems that the Miami relatives are gaining ground. They would probably follow the strategy of prolonging any definite decision after having submitted their case to the dilatoriness of the U.S. justice system. The U.S. justice system, in turn, will dare reach bolder conclusions only in the same proportion as continued progress is reached by the current process of cooling off the public opinion climate in favor of the child's return.

Many of those who recognize Elián's father's right to custody of his son cannot overlook the gentleman's mistake in lending himself to the political interests' game, alien to family feelings, when it was the right time to design (?) his strategy for recovering his son. He should have instead gone at the very first moment to the Office of U.S. Interests to demand a visa and then face this affair head-on in Miami itself, where his former wife wished to take their child. (The mother gave her life in the attempt).

That way, even if he had not recovered the child yet, he would have been seeing him every day. It would have also been much more difficult if not impossible for the relatives over there to achieve the custody that they want.

According to the opinion of some, the Cuban government convinced him in a nice way to adopt his current stand, thus converting into zero the possibility of him trying to stay abroad for good. That would have been an overwhelming blow for the strategy of the Island political authorities. It is clear that if Señor González had decided (or had been free to decide) to go abroad and not return, he would have had every right in the world to do so.

The resulting tantrum (by Castro) would be the clearest evidence of this side's willingness to take its political share from this whole affair. Those who hurry themselves to say that here the father would not have been allowed to leave, may want to imagine the difficult position this government would be in if the father made (or could make) the decision to create a scandal by complaining of being denied a right that should be his. Of course the foreign press, the U.S. Interests Section and foreign governments would have to be present if González made such decision.

Otherwise he would be in the same circumstance as the thousands of parents separated from their children by the Cuban government and no one else. The statements by Señor González that "he has nothing to go look for over there" and that "they might use a trick (in Miami) to put me in jail" are not convincing. He does have something very important to go look for and that is his son.

If the possibility of imprisonment were real, it would be within the range of sacrifice that a father should be able and available to endure for his son and should justify the risk of any danger.

We are realizing all these matters more every day and we are starting to ask ourselves: How can the resolution of a problem be attempted merely with more and more parades, marches and speeches? How so if the official line assumes we are only instruments to achieve an end?

How does it happen that the struggle for the child's return becomes a means for such an end? In the long run after all, the child's return would only happen, if it should, by a legal fluke. With this view of the whole situation, it is very easy to explain the "How much longer???!!!" that we hear every day.

Orestes Martín Pérez, Cuba Free Press.

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