Eduardo Javier Canto. Chicago Tribune, April 25, 2000
EVANSTON -- Over the last five months, the Elian Gonzalez story has tugged upon the heartstrings of millions of Americans, and has stirred bittersweet emotions within the Cuban-American community. It is important for me, and for other Cuban-Americans, that the rest of America understand that,
for many exiles, like my parents, Elian is a tangible reminder of a life long lost. He gives an innocent face to the suffering of many--a suffering that forced hundreds of thousands to leave their homeland, and that led a mother to risk her life and the life of her son, in hopes of finding the
freedom offered not in Cuba but in the United States.
The Cuban-American exile community feels that they know the life that Elian will have in Cuba all too well. But we also know the value of family and its important role in the lives of those placed in extraordinary circumstances.
Elian's Miami family was preparing to voluntarily deliver the child to his father during the hours leading up to the pre-dawn raid in Little Havana. America woke up on Saturday to encounter horrifying depictions of an act that rattles the conscience. Cuban-Americans took to the streets to engage
in peaceful demonstrations, only to find their actions nullified by a small minority of instigators who were overwhelmed by their emotions.
I trust that America understands why it is that this one 6-year-old boy is so important to so many. More importantly, though, I hope that the U.S. government swiftly determines what is in Elian's best interest and not in the best interest of U.S.-Cuba relations, and that the government carries
it out without the child enduring any further traumatic experiences.