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Elian’s Grandmothers Want Him Back

January 22, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Expressing ``how much they are suffering″ over the failure to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba, the boy’s grandmothers told Attorney General Janet Reno on Saturday the youngster should be reunited with his father in his native land.

The grandmothers met with a sympathetic Reno for about 45 minutes, giving her a letter expressing the wish that Elian be returned to ``the normality of life with his father, brother, family, friends at schools, his toys, dog and parrot.″

Mariela Quintana, paternal grandmother of 6-year-old Elian, and maternal grandmother Raquel Rodriguez did not speak to reporters after the Justice Department meeting. But their three-paragraph letter was released, and officials of the U.S. and Cuban Council of Churches described their sentiments afterwards.

The Very Rev. Oden Marichal, head of the Cuban church group, told reporters, ``The two grandmothers expressed how much they are suffering because of this separation from their family on behalf of Elian Gonzalez.

``This has been a very good opportunity for them to express their deep feeling as grandmothers to the (attorney general) asking the return of Elian to Cuba.

``We understand that grandchildren belong to every grandfather and grandmother.″

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