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Breaking News

Young Cuban Refugee Elian Gonzalez Awaits Reunion With Grandmothers in Miami

Aired January 26, 2000 - 4:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We are here at CNN Center. We are watching the Elian Gonzalez story. The 6-year-old Cuban boy we're told is now arriving at the Miami Beach home of that Dominican nun who is also president of Barry University, that's Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin.

Mark Potter, can you hear me?

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lou. I hear you.

We are seeing the two cars coming in. We presume this is Elian. We expect to see him shortly. They are turning into the driveway at the home of Sister Jean O'Laughlin about 37 minutes after they were scheduled.

Yes, this is the family. We can see the brothers, Delfin (ph), Lazaro Gonzalez, the lawyer, Spencer Eig. There was a crowd behind us that cheered having seen them. They are being cleared by the security officials right now at the gate waiting to go in. The grandmothers meanwhile are still at the airport.

WATERS: Yes. You mentioned earlier that there were some objections to how this plan for the reunion was being carried out. Do you have in specifics on that? What are they principle objections here?

POTTER: Yes. The only thing that we know is the word that we just got from the Cuban interest section representing the Cuban government, that interest section in Washington, and they issued this statement to us at CNN, and it reads, "The conditions that would guarantee no interference between the meeting of the boy and the grandmothers has not been satisfied to the grandmother's desires." The grandmothers want a private meeting, as has been promised by the INS, a two-hour meeting.

Now, the family last night, one of the members expressed concern about the boy being in there all that time with the grandmothers. They are very concerned about this meeting and I don't -- I do not know anything beyond that as to what the specifics are. But we do know that it's not a question as it was Monday night about the location, that seems to have been settled. It now has to do with the actual conditions of the meeting, the privacy of the meeting. And so, we have one party here, we have Elian, we have his relatives, we have the lawyers. They are here. We just saw them arrive. But the grandmothers are still at the Oqualoc (ph) Airport and with no word on what it's going to take to satisfy them. No word on what their plans are.

WATERS: Yes. We had a question on one of our CNN programs about an hour and a half ago on why the relatives of Elian Gonzalez in Miami and the grandmothers are not all meeting together to resolve this as a family. That may be part of the problem here. We also understand a cell phone may have been given to one of the grandmothers so that the father of Elian could call during this reunion meeting that was supposed to have taken place. There may be...

POTTER: Well, we know that there has been some discussion of that, we're told, in Cuba, in the Cuban press, but I cannot confirm to you whether that actually occurred.

WATERS: So there might be some friction between families here who want to be included in this meeting, but we can only speculate.

The grandmothers arrived -- it's about an hour ago now when their executive jet arrived at the Oqualoc Airport and apparently something broke down between their arrival and when the Elian Gonzalez boy headed out for this meeting place, because the plan seemed to be -- the elaborate plan seemed to be running smoothly up until that time and then there was this glitch out at the airport.

The fact that Elian Gonzalez has arrived, does that give us any signal that this thing might come off?

POTTER: Well, it's half the battle just by definition, but we had that the other night. The boy was at the home awaiting for hours the arrival of the grandmothers. They knew where he was and they didn't show up.

You described friction a moment ago, that's really the word that describes the relationship between the parties here, friction. They just do not get along. Even after the announcement was made last night by the INS that all parties have agreed, a member of the family here in Miami came out to speak disparagingly of the grandmothers, and the grandmothers in Washington, on our air, here at CNN, were speaking the same way about the relatives here. They just do not trust each other. They distrust each other's motives. They're angry with each other. They're not getting along. And that's at the core of all of this. And of course, stuck in the middle, 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez.

WATERS: Yes, and this, it seems to be an ad libbed kind of visit the grandmothers are paying to the United States, what with their Washington visit. And your report earlier that they intend to return to Washington to do some more lobbying on behalf of the forces who are against any kind of bill before the Congress that would make Elian either a resident or a citizen.

I wonder about any legal implications if this meeting doesn't come off today. It was ordered by the INS. And they intimated that perhaps the boy's temporary status might be in jeopardy if the meeting didn't happen.

POTTER: Yes, but that -- I want to be clear on that. That order by the INS was directed toward to the family here, to get them to comply. It was directed, and they have complied it appears. They're a little late, but they've complied, and they're here. They're inside now, and we don't know what's going on. It's a gated community. We will not know,

But the breakdown, it appears, seems to be on the grandmother's side, although again, we do not know that. We've only got a little bit of information on one side, that the grandmothers are upset about the actual conditions of the meeting. Again, it appears that it's not private enough, at least by their definitions.

Lou, back to you.

WATERS: All right, Mark, you keep watch there. And we'll be in touch. As soon as something breaks, we'll be right there with it. Now more of "SHOWBIZ TODAY."

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