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Cuban Media: Reunion Photos Legit

April 25, 2000

HAVANA (AP) _ Photos of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez smiling and hugging his father prove the wisdom of the raid that snatched him from his Miami relatives, Cuban news media said Tuesday.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said the photos were ``irrefutable proof of the boy’s immense joy at being again with his father, free from the relatives in Miami who exhibited him before the cameras″ while he stayed with them for five months.

Cuban officials have strongly supported the U.S. raid on Saturday that removed Elian from the Miami house of his great-uncle, who has been fighting to keep the child in the United States since he was rescued in late November after a shipwreck that killed his mother.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez, supported by the Cuban government, has said he wants to return with his son to Cuba.

Granma also quoted a CNN interview with U.S. Navy psychiatrist Gustavo Cadavid, who accompanied the child on the airplane that carried him from Miami to the reunion in Washington with his father. Cadavid described an emotional and joyful meeting between father and son.

``With this testimony, any person with a true heart would be convinced that Elian had to return as quickly as possible to his father,″ Granma said.

There were suggestions by some of Elian’s Florida family members that smiling pictures of the boy with his father had been doctored, or that the boy had been given drugs.

Justice Department spokeswoman Carole Florman said emphatically that Elian ``wasn’t drugged″ and that any such suggestion was ``preposterous.″

Columnist Lazaro Farinas wrote in the Communist youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, that the federal raid occurred because ``no other route was left.″

The Miami relatives had balked at giving the father unrestricted custody of the child, despite an Immigration and Naturalization Service order stripping them of custody.

Farinas accused the Miami relatives of wanting to continue a public relations ``circus″ centered on the child and said ``true Cubans are happy, happy for him (Elian) and happy because at last good has triumphed over evil.″

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