By Chuck Hagel. The New York Times. April 28, 2000
ASHINGTON -- The images of Elián González being seized from the home of his Miami relatives were indeed horrifying. But before we react with hurried congressional hearings, casting blame and fanning the emotional flames, we should step back, cool down and apply some perspective.
The Elián González case has become a passionate debate over Fidel Castro and Cuba. We need to have that debate, but not under these circumstances, and certainly not by using this 6-year-old boy as a pawn on a political chessboard. Over the last five months we have lost the real
focus: what is best for Elián González.
To me, this case has always been fundamentally about a father-son relationship. Elián lost his mother in a tragic way. By all accounts, Elián and his father have had a loving relationship. By United States law, the boy should have been placed in the custody of his sole remaining
parent as soon as his Juan Miguel González arrived on American soil.
The alarming photographs from Saturday's operation by the Justice Department obscured the point of the raid -- to reunite Elián with his father when those housing him had repeatedly refused to hand him over.
The boy is where he belongs, and the case is in the hands of the courts. Now Americans should trust the judicial process and allow it to work. After the legal process has concluded and Elián's fate has been determined in a dispassionate, legal and humane way, it may be appropriate for
Congress to hold hearings, examining all events since last Thanksgiving.
Holding congressional hearings now would only further politicize this tragedy, further inflame the passions, and do nothing to resolve the future of the child.
We are a nation of laws and family values. We should allow the legal process to work without overshadowing and complicating it with the protracted public drama of congressional hearings. We should not allow this situation to degenerate further into which political party can benefit the most.
Americans have made it clear that they do not want to see this issue politicized.
This is not about Fidel Castro or Cuba. This is about a young boy, his father and his future.
Chuck Hagel is a Republican senator from Nebraska.
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company