Cuban government censors filter details of the Elián González case broadcast on the island. But when Leoncio Veguilla visited Miami in March, he couldn't escape the news. Veguilla, president of Cuba's Western Baptist denomination, thought he had heard it all: That Elián's volatile father had abused Elián's mother, who drowned off Miami's coast before fishermen plucked the child from shark-infested waters. That Elián's grandmothers wanted to defect to the United States. That Elián's father really wants him to stay in America.Now, back in Havana, Veguilla is shocked at the news that federal agents removed Elián at gunpoint from the home of his Miami relatives and reunited him with his father."I was flabbergasted," Veguilla says. "Everything has been so fast, so unexpected. We didn't expect things to turn out as they did."Yet Veguilla says it is good that Elián is now with his father."The boy should come back to Cuba," he says with conviction.Veguilla's opinion contrasts with polls showing that most of Miami's Cuban Americans believe the boy should stay in America. Across the Florida Strait, however, interviews with Havana pastors and national church leaders reveal that many evangelicals agree with Veguilla.What surprised Veguilla most during his visit to Miami was the Cuban-American reaction to Elián. "I believed I was going to find [Miami] opinion as I did in Cuba, but it's very different," he says.Veguilla is no Castro cheerleader. Starting in 1965, he served five-and-a-half years in prison on false charges of associating with American spies. Secret police arrested his son, Eliezer, on the same false charges in 1994, demanding that the son confess to espionage or face a live bear visible from his cell (CT, Jan. 12, 1998, ...1
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