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Gonzalez Attorneys Comment on U.S. Government's Role in Custody Battle

Aired April 6, 2000 - 4:56 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. We want to take you now live to Miami where representatives of Elian Gonzalez have been meeting with U.S. officials.

Let's listen to the attorneys.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOSE GARCIA PEDROSA, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S MIAMI RELATIVES: I believe that any fair-minded person will realize that these conversations should never had gotten to this point and to this position by our government. Believe it or not, the government would not guarantee to us, even if we made an agreement with them, that the father, Juan Miguel, would not take the child to Cuba right away, even during the pendency of an appeal.

The government rejected the standard of the best interest of the child. That's the guiding principle. The government refused to agree to a psychological evaluation of whether there should be a transfer of custody from Lazaro to Juan Miguel. Only -- they would only discuss how to effect that transfer. And even with their willingness to hire psychologists for the first time to assist them in making that transfer, they would not agree to be bound by the recommendations of those psychiatrists.

The government will not guarantee that it will not try to take Elian away in the middle of the night. The government...

QUESTION: Can you start that last part again?

PEDROSA: The government will not guarantee that it will not take Elian away or try to take him away in the middle of the night. The government has made the decision and they have told us this that they will revoke or transfer parole and that they will change the custody to the father even though the government has never even spoken to the boy, met with the boy or most importantly had the boy evaluated by psychologists or psychiatrists trained to determine whether he will be harmed by such changes.

I want to make clear so that there is no question despite the misstatements that have continuously been made. No court of law has ever said that this boy are must go back to Cuba. No court of law has ever said that the child's father in Cuba, now in Bethesda, Maryland, is the only person in the world who is entitled to speak for the father. What the federal court ruled in the federal case was that the attorney general, who is not a court of law, had the right to make that decision and she could have just as easily made the opposite decision. So clearly this boy has not been talked to, interviewed, evaluated by the United States government, and he has not had his day in court.

It is our belief that this is a very, very sad day in the history of American jurisprudence. And that what the United States government has decided under those conditions is both unfair and dangerous to this child. And I would ask now that you hear from my colleague in Spanish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

WOODRUFF: We are listening to attorneys for the relatives of Elian Gonzalez, clearly upset after a meeting with Immigration and Naturalization Service. Officials there in Miami at the U.S. courthouse angry, in their words, at what they described as unfair and dangerous attitude on the part of the U.S. government toward 6-year- old Elian Gonzalez. Among other things, the attorney saying the government is not willing to talk with the child. It has already decided that custody will be transferred to the father, who arrived in the U.S. this morning.

I am Judy Woodruff. We're going to take a break. "INSIDE POLITICS" coming up shortly.

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