NCC Presses Case for Boy's Swift Return to Cuba

'This is not a healthy situation for the boy,' says new general secretary

As the case of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez drags on in the US courts, the National Council of Churches (NCC), the nation's biggest ecumenical agency, is continuing mediation efforts to return the boy to Cuba. Robert Edgar, the NCC's new general secretary, told Ecumenical News International (ENI) in an interview January 15 that he could not explain in detail the NCC's efforts. But he added that the NCC was supporting plans to bring either one or both of the boy's two grandmothers from Cuba to Miami, and then return them to Cuba with the boy.

"My ideal scenario would be for his two grandmothers to be sitting on a couch next to [US Attorney General] Janet Reno, and he'd come in and say: 'Grandma, Grandma, let's go home'," Edgar said.

The plan involving the grandmothers is the latest in a contentious immigration case that has become an international incident, enflaming passions and sparking massive protests in the US and Cuba.

For some conservatives the six-year-old boy's predicament has become a symbol of the conflict between democracy and dictatorship. The boy was rescued last November off the Florida coast after he survived an illegal trip from Cuba in which his mother and stepfather and other Cubans perished at sea.

Since his rescue, Elian has lived with relatives in Miami who want him to remain in the US. They have taken their case to court, arguing that the boy would be better off here than in Cuba, and that staying in the US would honor his mother's sacrifice.

But the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has ruled that Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who was divorced from the boy's mother and remains in Cuba, has legal custody of the boy and that Elian should be returned to his country. US Attorney General ...

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