EliŠn GonzŠlez:
How Many T-shirts and Banners Must He Become?
Part Three

Media sources reported that Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, made the request for the subpoena hoping that Congress would pass a bill granting EliŠn U.S. citizenship. The reason Diaz-Balart went to Burtonís committee is because he is the only one who could issue a subpoena when Congress is out of session. This move has produced a delay in the repatriation process and was intended to force the INS to keep EliŠn in the U.S. until Congress reconvenes on 24 January 2000. When Congress reconvenes, media pundits reported members of the House of Representatives and Senate will represent private legislation to confer citizenship, or minimally permanent residency status on EliŠn GonzŠlez. Members of Congress hope this will cause EliŠn to be kept in the U.S. On the other hand, it is reported that this form of legislation is exceedingly difficult to pass unless everyone in Congress is in agreement; otherwise, it can be delayed for a long time. And delay is what this is all about. EliŠnís great-uncle in Miami, Lazaro GonzŠlez, also filed for temporary custody of EliŠn on Friday, 7 January 2000 in Florida family court. If the court names Lazaro temporary guardian, then he would be able to apply for U.S. citizenship on EliŠnís behalf.

It now appears it is too late to keep politics out of this repatriation process, this international tug-of-war over EliŠn. Again, we must reflect on the core question here, how many T-shirts and banners must he become? Lou Waters, CNN Anchor, asked Bob Franken, CNN Congressional Correspondent, do we let the legal, the judicial system, take care of this repatriation process, this international tug-of-war over EliŠn, and keep the politics out of it? Franken responded to the question by saying

Well, some of the question is whether or not the judicial system in the form of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, INS, has already, in fact, adjudicated this. This is what is being decided. Letís not loose cite of the fact that when somebody has a cause, legal maneuvering and political maneuvering usually are two tools at the command of the people. Right now, there is this effort to try and delay having Elian Gonzalez to leave the United States, but, of course, there could be some sort of compromise thatís worked out. The effort to bring this before Congress is just one effort to try and delay things.

Armando Guttierez, a spokesman for EliŠnís Miami relatives, told CNN staff in Miami, "There is no way this family will turn that boy over. The INS has backed itself into a corner with this decision. The fatherís going to have to come to Miami to try to get his son back." And Jose Basulto, director of the anti-Castro organization Brothers to the Rescue, told CNN staff in Miami that his group as well as the Democracia Movement would do "anything to stop this action." CNN reported that Basulto "urged Cuban Americans to form traffic slowdowns and stoppages as a way to protest the order. He also urged protesters to form a human ring around the boy to prevent him from being taken away.

During CNNís Burden of Proof segment aired on 7 January 2000, Roger Cossack, Co-Host, asked Dan Stein, Executive Director, Federation for American Immigration Reform, about Steinís views on whether EliŠnís repatriation process is more about a political battle so that others can benefit politically than it is about the welfare of EliŠn. Steinís view and comments were

Thereís no question about the fact that the boyís interests are no longer being considered by any of the primary players in this. Now we see the presidential candidates getting involved. Republican presidential candidates are trying to make an issue out of this, gain, obviously, the votes of the Cuban community in Miami in November.

Clinton administration has made the right decision because the Constitution gives the executive branch a very high degree of discretion in deciding these issues. As in foreign affairs and trade, certainly on immigration matters in a case like this, the INS and the attorney general have almost exclusive authority to determine a custody issue for a child who is legally at the port of entry. Al Gore [is] being put in the very difficult position during his campaign of having to try and thread the needle and not be burned by the prospect of losing South Florida, effectively, over the politics over this child.

If the father really believed that the child was going to be in some serious injury or death as a result of being returned to Cuba, I believe the father would sacrifice himself to protect the interest of the son and come out and tell the truth, if in fact he were being coerced. But we cannot take(we cannot go down to Cuba and essentially kidnap the father, make him come to Florida if he doesnít want to. And we canít have Congress stripping a father of custody of his own child through what would effectively be a bill of attainder.

So, in the end, Congress ought to back off and let the process work the way it should constitutionally.

During Larry King Live, which aired on 5 January 2000, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Presidential Candidate, blended politics with his reflection of the repatriation process and the international tug-of-war over EliŠn. Again, we must reflect carefully on Senator McCainís comments and ask ourselves, is he speaking and representing what is in the best interests of the child? Senator McCain, how many T-shirts and banners must EliŠn become?

I was just thinking while I was listening to your other guests(they have a saying(a slogan at the Statue of Liberty. It says: "Send me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," yearning to breathe free. Thatís what Elianís mother was doing when she literally sacrificed her life so that her son could breathe free. And she gave her life so that he might have freedom. I donít know why this father didnít know about it or anybody else in the communist hierarchy didnít know about it. But clearly, this young man deserves freedom. He deserves not to be sent back to a totalitarian, oppressive, repressive government. Larry King then asks Senator McCain what he thinks the father deserves. Senator McCainís comments were

I think the father deserves the ability to come to the United States. I donít know why he hasnít. And I wish that he would be able to do that. But this young man deserves to grow up in a free and open society and have the bounties and beauties of freedom rather than living in a country where Fidel Castro has decided that their young women would sell themselves in order to have hard currency for this regime to stay in power.

Larry King follows with a question regarding whether Senator McCain would encourage children to run away from their parents in oppressed countries, whether they need to get on boats any way they can, to get over here, so that we can take them in. "Forget your mother or your father, get here." And Senator McCainís comments were

If the children want to achieve freedom, which they attempted to do(thatís why they built the Berlin Wall, Larry. Thatís why we all know if Castro ever let them loose, there would be a sign that said, "Last one out turn out the lights."

We need to take pause here with Senator McCainís viewpoint and comments, particularly to his appeal to all children living under oppressive regimes in foreign countries to runaway from their parents, forget their mothers or their fathers, and come to the United States so that they "could breathe free." Maybe Senator McCain, and maybe all of the plurality of voices in our global family of cultures vying for their right to reality, need to "take a moment" and reflect on the essay that one Columbine student wrote. The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medication, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. Weíve learned how to make a living, but not a life; weíve added years to life, not life to years.

Weíve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

Weíve conquered outer space, but not inner space; weíve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; weíve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We have higher incomes, but lower morals; weíve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes; but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference .. or just hit delete.

Harriet Ryan, Court TV asks us to reflect on the repatriation process of EliŠn, and that EliŠn is proof our democracy has principles higher than democracy.

Maybe the U.S. did something noble. Maybe it took the right course of action, rather than the easiest one. Elian is heading home because his father is there, and because the United States after much soul-searching recognized that nothing(neither election-year worries in a politically important state, nor our troubled history with Cuba, nor even our Constitutional guarantees(are more fundamental than the bond between parent and child.

ÖNational prestige and south Florida politics dictated that Elian remain in Miami, but there was something more basic at play here. Civilized people and countries assume parents are the natural and best guardians of their offspring and their rights are inviolable in all but the worse cases. That means parents canít be forced to give up their kids purely because they are poor, illiterate or sick. And, the INS determined today, a father cannot lose his son because he lives in a repressive dictatorship. Juan Gonzalez may not be able to give his son an independent press or freedom of religion, but he can be a parent to Elian. The U.S. recognized today that it could give Elian a lot of important rights, but it could never replace his father. The government weighed democracy and family, and found family to be more important.

Jill Nelson, USA Today, reported that "family values" does exist in Cuba too. She argues that the INS decision asserts that the "U.S. governmentís decades-old hostility toward Fidel Castro and the communist Cuban government doesnít trump the bond between parent and child, even at the risk of offending Floridaís large and politically powerful anti-Castro Cuban community."

Elianís return to the arms of his father will be a small victory for the much-touted notion of "family values" that American politicians love to bandy about. Itís about time those politicians realized that the values they profess to believe in should not be subject to the prevailing political wind, particularly the chilly one weíve imposed over Cuba. The right to return to homeland and family extends to everyone, whatever the U.S. government might think of their homelands. If we enable people to return to war-ravaged Bosnia, certainly Elian should be sent back to his dad in Cuba.

In light of this tug-of-war, this international, cross-cultural shouting match, we need to reflect on what Dr. Wade F. Horn asks, will fathers become extinct in the next century? He argues that this question would have been unthinkable 100 years ago. Is the EliŠn GonzŠlez case another confirmation that dads are disappearing? Is this case another unsettling instance to reflect on the "question whether fathers will survive the next century is unsettled?" Horn reports that nearly 40 percent of all children live absent their biological father. He says that approximately 40 percent of the children who live in fatherless households havenít seen their fathers for at least a year. Fifty percent of the children who donít live with their father, according to Horn, "have never even stepped foot in their fatherís home." Is EliŠn GonzŠlez doomed to become a statistic, as Horn highlights, where EliŠn becomes part of the cohort of more than half of the children in the United States today who will spend half of their childhood in a father-absent household. And Horn argues, "Some experts predict soon this will increase to 60 percent." Fatherless children, Horn asks us to reflect on, are more likely to fail at school or drop out, suffer an emotional or behavioral problem requiring psychiatric treatment, engage in early and promiscuous sex, and commit crime.

On 18 June 1999, in the Senate of the United States, Senate Resolution 125 was passed to encourage and promote greater involvement of fathers in their childrenís lives. This resolution also designated 20 June 1999, as "National Fatherís Return Day." Senate Resolution 125 reflected that the Senate

Recognizes that the creation of a better United States requires the active involvement of fathers in the rearing and development of their children.

Urges each father in the United States to accept his full share of responsibility for the lives of his children, to be actively involved in rearing his children, and to encourage the emotional, academic, moral, and spiritual development of his children.

Urges the States to hold fathers who ignore their legal responsibilities accountable for their actions and to pursue more aggressive enforcement of child support obligations.

Encourages each father to devote time, energy, and resources to his children, recognizing that children need not only material support, but also, more importantly, a secure, affectionate, family environment.

Urges governments and institutions at every level to remove barriers to father involvement and enact public policies that encourage and support the efforts of fathers who do want to become more engaged in the lives of their children.

To demonstrate the commitment of the Senate to those critically important goals, designates June 20, 1999, as National Fatherís Return Day.

Calls on fathers around the country to use the day to reconnect and rededicate themselves to their childrenís lives, to spend National Fatherís Return Day with their children, and to express their love and support for them.

Requests that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe ĎNational Fatherís Return Dayí with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

During a TalkBack Live segment that aired on 6 January 2000, Tony Levitas, Psychologist, offered commentary about the repatriation controversy of the EliŠn GonzŠlez case. His words are indeed well advised, and sentiments that ascend above the transactions of the marketplace in the practice of both United States and international law, and particularly, when the "T-shirt and the banner" is a child. His words too are indeed well advised for all those individuals who assert that they speak for EliŠn, and they are words that these individuals need to keep in mind in their line of sight as they lead EliŠn through the maze of the plurality of voices in our global family of cultures vying to speak for EliŠnís right to reality.

I think the first thing we need to keep in mind is that this child has sustained tremendous loss to begin with. Heís lost his mother forever. Heís likely dealing with really horrific grief, and thereís a whole range of emotions that heís likely to be experiencing, from shock and disbelief to anger, sadness and questioning why. Heís also been torn apart from his father and his homeland. So heís really dealing with quite an adjustment. Iím not sure if people are keeping those factors in mind. I think it would be hard for any child in this case, whoís been lavished with gifts and trips to Disneyworld and all sorts of perks, if you will, to stay here. So heís probably in a state of denial right now about what heís dealing with. But this will hit him at some point, whether itís today or tomorrow or next year. But he will have to deal with this.

Why must we erect conditions and constraints on Juan Miguel GonzŠlezís fatherhood during this tug-of-war? There is no question that this tug-of-war is forcing him to struggle, even punishing him, with adapting to varying situations across time and circumstances (Snarey, 1993) and with overcoming the barriers that prevent him from participating in a caring effort to "maintain supportive conditions" for EliŠnís healthy growth and development (Erikson, 1998, as cited in Dollahite, Hawkins, & Brotherson, 1997). Juan Miguel is struggling with maintaining attachments with EliŠn, in spite of the numerous obstacles that are barriers, so that EliŠn and Juan Miguel can foster love between the generations "in a way that attends to the deep and abiding needs that children of all ages have to be knit together with previous generations" (Gilligan, 1982, p. 29).

The transactions of the marketplace in this international tug-of-war are a nemesis on everyone. These transactions reek of the fear of death and stagnation and would arouse in any parent "a shudder which comes from the sudden awareness that our own nonexistence is entirely possible," (Erikson, 1958, p. 11) and the existential imperilment of feeling the threatened loss of our children (Snarey, 1993, p. 23). EliŠn must be feeling torn and dejected with the prospect of losing more than a residential relationship with Juan Miguel. EliŠn too will have to encounter, if not now then eventually, the existential imperilment of feeling the threatened loss of Juan Miguel.

This international tug-of-war with so many people claiming to speak for EliŠn and their thinly veiled bias for the motherhood mystique, their ignorance of the science and craft of clinical psychology and psychiatry and respective perceptual frameworks, and a strict preference for the science and philosophy of law, cannot be apathetically tolerated because these people who assert that they speak for EliŠn are profoundly influencing his well being and his right to reality. They must not be permitted to side step their complicity, their liability, as a contributor in the manifestation of spreading a chill over the love between the generations and the generative legacy they wish for EliŠn to inherit and incorporate throughout his lifespan. The chilling behavior of those who claim they speak for EliŠn, whether it originates from negligence or a belief that they are the bastions for preserving the legal, narrow interpretation of the best interest of the child standard, what will be their generative gift to EliŠn? We need to ask ourselves, do we want to be a party to all of this and take ownership of this generative gift to EliŠn and Juan Miguel and expect that this gift will foster love between the generations "in a way that attends to the deep and abiding needs that children of all ages have to be knit together with previous generations?" (Gilligan, 1982, p. 29).

We are left then with one final question. EliŠn GonzŠlez, how many T-shirts and banners must you become?

Author Note

Dr. Mark A. Rogers is CEO and President of Honisa Behavioral Treatment Centers, which are multidisciplinary providers of multicultural behavioral and mental healthcare, and alternative healthcare services to the Chicago metropolitan area. Clinical services help the body, mind, and spirit to heal. Services, programs, and treatment plans are developed specifically for each unique consumer. Clinical approaches integrate community support, culturally sensitive treatment approaches, and alternative healing practices.

Dr. Rogersí holds his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) and his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology-Meadows Campus. Dr. Rogersí clinical training included the integration of theory, research, and a three-year supervised residency in the major aspects of clinical practice. Clinical proficiency focused on all aspects of therapeutic intervention concerning children, adolescent, and adult populations with diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural differences. Proficiency also focused on psychodiagnostic interviewing and DSM conceptualization, psychodiagnostic evaluation, clinical report writing, and treatment planning.

The first two years of Dr. Rogersí residency was at the Madden Mental Health Center, Hines, Illinois. Dr. Rogers completed the third year of his training at Cermak Health Services, Cook County Department of Corrections; an American Psychological Association accredited internship site. Cermak Health Services is the largest single site correctional service in the country to have full accreditation by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. Clinical services include on-site medical, dental, substance abuse, and psychiatric services to over 9,000 detainees housed daily. Approximately 250 to 350 detainees enter the facility on a daily basis and undergo psychiatric screening. Approximately 10% of those screened are identified and referred for mental health services.

Dr. Rogers holds his Master of Sciences in Curriculum and Instruction, and was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, from the College of Education, University of Oregon. He taught undergraduate courses on instructional psychology, instructional design and learning systems technology, which were enriched with practical laboratory experience. Dr. Rogers graduate training focused on behavioral psychology, cognitive and instructional psychology, instructional design and learning systems technology, organizational leadership and change, and measurement of learning. Dr. Rogersí has worked in both public and private behavioral and mental healthcare settings. Professional experience includes work in community mental health, psychiatric hospitals, and private practice. Dr. Rogers served as a consultant and also as a senior clinical therapist for over six years at The Association House of Chicago, a private, nonprofit Latino community-based social service agency.

Dr. Rogersí Clinical Research Project (CRP) in fulfillment of his Doctor of Psychology focused on the relationship between fatherhood, generativity and acquiring joint-custody. Dr. Rogersí developed a semi-structured clinical interview protocol known as the Life Span of Fatherhood, which was developed for his pilot study. The pilot study examined the genesis of participantsí fatherhood, how the divorce process affected participantsí fatherhood identity, status and role responsibilities, and whether generativity, generativity chill, and generative fathering contributed to the participantsí decisions to pursue a joint-custody decree. Recommendations for reform were offered regarding child custody decrees, access determination, and fatherhood identity, status and role responsibilities. Dr. Rogersí ongoing fatherhood work focuses on male gender identity, fatherwork models as developmental processes, frameworks of generative fathering, and how the separation and divorce processes or nonresidential status affect menís fatherhood identity, status, and role responsibilities with their children.

Media Events

23 September 1999(Interview with Jonathan Aiken on CNN (Washington, D.C. affiliate) on Fatherís Rights.

23 September 1999(Live Co-Interview with Jim Bohannon, Host of Jim Bohannon Show on Westwood One Radio Network (Washington, D.C.).

23 September 1999(Live Co-Interview with Nancy Stellabotta, Host of CBN News on Christian Broadcasting Network (Washington, D.C.).

23 September 1999(Live Co-Interview with Dirk Van, Host of The Source Reports on Westwood One Radio Network (Washington, D.C.).

23 September 1993(Live Co-Interview with Doug Stephan, Host of Good Day USA on Radio America/National (Washington, D.C.).

17 September 1999(Live Interview with Herman Washington, D.C. News Anchor of Insight WHUR-FM (Washington, D.C.) on Childrenís Rights and Fatherís Rights.

Magnarelli, M. (June 20, 1999). Divorced Dads Fight To Be More Than A Meal Ticket. Daily Herald, Section 1, p. 10.

Fatherhood Summit This Weekend. (March 24, 1999). Inside Lincoln Park, p.23.


Co-Presenter on Men: Your Life in Separation and Divorce at the Illinois Psychological Association 1999 Annual Convention.

Co-Presenter on Dads, Kids, and Emotional Development at the Childrenís Rights Council 12th National 1999 Conference.

Co-Presenter on Hot New Research with Joyce Arditti, Ph.D., John Guidubaldi, Ed.D., Rick Kuhn, and moderated by Sanford Braver, Ph.D. at the Childrenís Rights Council 12th 1999 National Conference.

Co-Presenter on Fatherís Rights: Changing the System at the Illinois Fatherhood Initiativeís 1999 Fatherhood Summit: "Fathering and The Whole Family." Honorary Co-Chairs Mayor Richard Daley, Governor George Ryan, and U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald hosted the summit.

Dr. Rogersí professional memberships include the American Psychological Association, the Illinois Psychological Association, American Group Psychotherapy Association, Illinois Group Psychotherapy Association, and the International Society for Mental Health Online.

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Elian Gonzalez

Abuse Hurts EliŠn: Part One EliŠn: Part Two

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