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Miami Cubans React To Elian News

June 28, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ Some of Miami’s Cuban-Americans wept, screamed and jeered over the Supreme Court’s refusal Wednesday to block 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez’s return to Cuba. Others accepted it quietly.

Dozens of people gathered at the downtown federal courthouse and at the former home of Elian’s Miami relatives in Little Havana.

Demonstrators carried a long poster with images of Elian and his mother, but police calmly moved them behind barricades.

``This boy was not given a chance to defend himself,″ 74-year-old Ester Granda said. ``That kid is not going to his father. He’s going back to Fidel.″

Before the court’s decision, many of the protesters sipped Cuban coffee as a scratchy version of the Cuban National Anthem blared over a loudspeaker.

Elian’s great-uncles, Lazaro and Delfin Gonzalez, and Elian’s cousin, Marisleysis Gonzalez, appeared briefly outside the house without comment.

Family spokesman Armando Gutierrez said: ``Of course, the family is disappointed. But they believe in God and in the rule of law.″

In Tallahassee, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush said he was ``saddened by how this has turned out.″

Elian was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean on Thanksgiving Day after a boat leaving Cuba for Miami sank, killing his mother and 10 others. He stayed with his Miami relatives until federal agents seized him on April 22 and turned him over to his father in Washington pending the court appeals.

Police monitored the crowds outside Elian’s former home and outside the courthouse. The family moved out in the weeks following the raid, but the house has remained a gathering place for many in Little Havana.

``Don’t expect to see any violence or anything of that nature because it’s not our nature, and such acts will not be tolerated by the leadership of the Cuban-American community here,″ said Jose Basulto, leader of the exile group Brothers to the Rescue.

At Little Havana’s Versaille Bakery, the lunchtime crowd seemed to accept the Supreme Court decision.

``He had his day in court. That’s it,″ said Octavio Oliu, a 54-year-old Cuban-born engineer. ``I would have been upset if he hadn’t had his day in court. As a citizen of this country, that’s all I can ask, that he have his day in court.″

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