An ‘Elian Gonzalez in Reverse’ Case

Background: On various occasions I’ve discussed both the 2001 Elian Gonzalez case and the current “Elian Gonzalez II” case. In both cases I support the right of the fathers–Juan Gonzalez in 2001 and Rafael Izquierdo in the current case–to take their children back to Cuba and raise them as they see fit. To learn more, click here. Izquierdo is pictured to the right, in court fighting to regain custody of his little daughter. I also strongly oppose situations such as these when governments delay or refuse to return kidnapped or detained children to their parents.
In Elian I, Elian Gonzalez was held by Cuban relatives against his father’s will for six months before being returned to his father. In Elian, II, the state of Florida is doing everything it can do avoid returning Rafael Izquierdo’s four-year-old girl to him. In other cases, children are abducted internationally, and governments sometimes refuse to return the children to their parents. As David Levy of the Children’s Rights Council noted in this letter, this is particularly a problem when children of American/Japanese heritage are abducted from the US and brought to Japan.  A reader recently pointed out a case to me where the Cuban government quite properly returned two children to the United States who had been abducted from the US and taken to Cuba. In this 2003 case, an Egyptian-American father abducted his two children, first to Egypt, and then to Cuba. The American mother personally appealed to Fidel Castro to have the children returned. According to the BBC: “The children’s father, Anwar Wissa, had earlier been arrested and would stand trial in Cuba, according to a Cuban Government communique. “The Cuban authorities say the case appears to be a reversal of the highly publicized custody saga of Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez. “The case of the Wissa children emerged after their mother wrote a letter to Mr Castro, delivered by a ‘friend of our commander in chief,’ according to the official release. “In the statement, read out on state television and published on the official Granma [Cuban state] website, the Cuba authorities said: ‘Cuba will never forget that when five-year-old Elian Gonzalez was kidnapped by relatives who had no custody rights, more than 80% of the North Americans supported his return to Cuba, where his father and family resided.’ “‘Cuban territory will never be used as a refuge to kidnap children, even if the perpetrator, as in this sad case, is the father.'” The full BBC story is below. Mother back with children in Cuba BBC, 6/26/03 A US woman who sought Fidel Castro’s help to get back her two children taken to Cuba by their father has been reunited with them, the mother’s attorney has said. Cornelia Streeter could finally embrace her son Henry Wissa, 10, and eight-year-old daughter Victoria – both US citizens – on Wednesday night in Cuba after nearly two years, the attorney, Barry Pollack, said from Boston. Read the rest of this entry ยป

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