Background: In the outrageous “Elian Gonzalez II” case in Miami, Rafael Izquierdo, a fit, loving father, has faced numerous obstacles to reunite with his 5-year-old daughter. From day one of this case, the Florida Department of Children & Families has done everything in its power to separate Rafael Izquierdo from his little girl.
This week I partnered with Dr. Ned Holstein and Fathers & Families in a campaign to protest this injustice. Thousands of you have answered our call to action, the campaign has been covered by the Associated Press and others, and Florida DCF has opened a dialogue with us. To learn more or to join our campaign, click here.
The Miami Herald article “Cuban child custody cases piling up” (9/21/07) reveals that there is an Elian Gonzalez III case, and apparently Florida DCF is doing the same thing to the dad as they’re doing to Rafael Izquierdo. Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller writes:
“With her father’s consent, a small child emigrates from Cuba to Miami with her mother. Some time later, the little girl’s mom is gripped by mental illness and ends up in a psychiatric hospital.
“The girl, now 5, is in the care of state child-welfare administrators. Her father, still in Cuba, wants her back.
“Just as the battle for custody of Rafael Izquierdo’s 5-year-old daughter enters what could be its final chapter in Miami, a strikingly similar case is attracting attention.
“The new case is one of at least three involving children born in Cuba currently being handled by the Florida Department of Children & Families, which already has spent more than $250,000 in an effort to prevent Izquierdo from getting custody of his daughter…
“The other Miami case began in late August. The 5-year-old girl’s mother was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, according to DCF spokeswoman Erin Geraghty.
“The girl’s father lives in Havana and is seeking to regain custody. DCF investigators believe, however, that he has a drinking problem.
“The department has not yet discussed the girl’s plight with the dad, Geraghty said.
”’We are in the initial process of contacting the father,’ she said.
“The parents lived together in Havana, but separated when the girl was two, Geraghty said. The case has been assigned to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Valerie Manno Schurr.
“The girl is currently in the care of her mother’s cousins. It is unclear whether they are seeking permanent custody.
“Reached by telephone in Cuba, the father declined to comment on the case…”
Interesting. In “Elian III”, DCF’s reason (or pretext) for cutting the young girl’s father out of the picture is that he may have a drinking problem. Well, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. But it’s strange how DCF is capable of ascertaining this intimate detail of his life, yet has somehow been unable to contact him.
DCF says they are “in the initial process of contacting the father.” They make it sound so long and difficult, but it wasn’t a problem for the Miami Herald reporter, and DCF had a lot more time than she did. I would bet that if we had his phone number from the DCF file, we could call him directly and have him on the phone in about a minute.