In the meantime, a six-year-old child, whose mother died in an effort to secure a better life for him, has been victimized by ancient Cold War feuds, presidential politics and a cadre of congressional Castro sympathizers like Maxine Waters of California. Last week, when Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, baby in tow, had his choreographed arrival in Bethesda televised by every network, it was easy to understand why a majority of Americans still believe that father and son must be reunited. But is there any doubt that Gonzalez was under constant surveillance by Castro's thugs, parroting the Communist Party line so that his remaining relatives in Cuba remain unmolested?
Liberal pundits have castigated the Cuban-American community in Miami for what they call mob behavior. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift went so far as to say, on Sunday's McLaughlin Group, that it's probably preferable to be a poor child in Cuba than in the United States. We wonder if Clift would be so flip if the boy were from Iraq, Iran or Nazi Germany. On the April 4 edition of NBC's Today, Matt Lauer interviewed actor Andy Garcia, who escaped his native Cuba when he was almost six years old. Lauer asked the celebrity, who has three children, if he were in Juan Miguel Gonzalez's position, would he honestly prefer the separation of his family. Garcia responded: "With complete conviction, Matt. It's a fate worse than hell...to think that my children would be growing up in that system over there. I mean, I was a product of that."
But there's a much larger issue than just the sad fate of Elian Gonzalez. It's startling that, in an era when the United States has diplomatic relations with China and Vietnam, a tiny, impoverished island like Cuba is neglected by its neighbor, the most powerful country in the world. Unfortunately, neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush has the guts to confront this issue head-on. Neither did Bill Clinton, perhaps because there were no dollars available in Cuba for his two presidential campaigns.
Castro will eventually fade and democracy will reign in Cuba. A courageous president would make that a reality sooner rather than later.