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Elian Gonzalez Handover Deadline: Injunction Filed by Florida Relatives with 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta

Aired April 13, 2000 - 2:35 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures now of the scene outside the Little Havana home, where Elian Gonzalez has been living with his relatives. Supporters of the relatives have now formed a chain, a prayer circle they are calling it. The mayors of Miami and Dade County are in that circle. Gloria Estefan and her husband have been there as well. So that is the situation 35 minutes after the government deadline to turn Elian Gonzalez over to INS officials, that not taking place.

As we continue to watch developments, let's go to Susan Candiotti, who is standing with a spokesman for the family -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, we have breaking news now to tell you about, and we just received world, I have, from one of the attorneys representing the family by the name of Spencer Eig, and he informs that a short time ago an injunction has now been filed by these Florida relatives with the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

An injunction it is called, asking the court to prevent the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. They are asking that all lawful steps be taken to prevent that from happening in the words of the legal brief, which we expect to receive shortly that they are trying to prevent this child from being put under, as this the lawyers put it, under the control of the Cuban government.

So, as we wait to receive more details of that, joining us now is the spokesperson for the Gonzalez family, Armando Guitierrez.

You have been here day in and day out. Why was there a decision to make the move at this time, given the fact that the U.S. attorney general has said that she is not intending to send in marshals, not immediately anyway.

ARMANDO GUITIERREZ, U.S. GONZALEZ FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Well, the family is always concerned because the government has said a lot of times they would not do some things, and like they said, go to family, they went to family court, go to federal court. You know they have done a lot of the government's requests, and they always change their minds so the attorneys felt that it was right to do it now, and try to get protection.

CANDIOTTI: What do you make of the decision by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno not to immediately take steps, but to take measured steps, as she put it, to try to reunite the family.

GUITIERREZ: Well, you know, the family requested last night, you know, after 2 1/2 hours with her and her staff that they wanted to have a family reunion without any conditions. They insisted that they would have to bring Elian, and that not acceptable to the family. The family here has always said that they will do whatever the law says, they will not break the law, but they will not betray this little boy.

CANDIOTTI: What would be wrong about having this little boy, at the very least, see his father, who he has not been together with for more than four months?

GUITIERREZ: They have no problem with it, as long as the government gives them a letter that this little boy, if he doesn't want to stay with his father, to come back to his little home where he found, you know, the family that loves him, cares for him. and he trusted.

CANDIOTTI: Sadly the boy's mother has died and the father is there, and says that he loves him, and in a private meeting with the U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and publicly, he has stated that he wants to go back to Cuba and he would like to see his son back. It's a tragic situation, is it not, to see these two families divided?

GUITIERREZ: Well, it is tragic because the father will not meet with this family. I believe that this is a good family. You know, we have letters four months ago, before this thing started, how they used to write to each, how they used to send money back to Cuba to help them, and now, after Castro loco got involved, look what has happened.

CANDIOTTI: He maintains, I might add, Mr. Gonzalez does, that he is speaking freely, that he would like to have his son back with him.

GUITIERREZ: So what's wrong with a family meeting with no condition, no Cuban agents, no lawyers, no government, a family meeting, and let the best thing come out for the best thing for the child.

CANDIOTTI: And in fact that is what the U.S. attorney general, Janet Reno, has offered.

GUITIERREZ: Yes, but she did not tell you that she offered that, but she demanded that the boy be there, that he will be transferred that day, regardless of what happened with that reunion. If the boy does not want to go with his father, he will have no choice but to leave.

CANDIOTTI: Do you think that is because of the situation, are you going to start asking this crowd to disperse, since the attorney general is not planning any action immediately?

GUITIERREZ: We have not request the crowd to come. You know, we have stated we want people to be peaceful. We are very happy that they have come to show support, like Gloria Estefan, Sandoval, Andy Garcia, Christina, everyone is coming down, and it shows their support for the little boy. CANDIOTTI: What has Elian been doing, and what does he make of all of the ruckus going on outside the house? After all, you've got helicopters flying overhead, someone playing a trumpet.

GUTIERREZ: That's Andy Sandoval, I believe.

CANDIOTTI: That very famous artist, certainly.

GUTIERREZ: He was watching himself on TV with the message he gave yesterday, that he does not want to go back to Cuba.

CANDIOTTI: What does he make of all the activity going on outside?

GUTIERREZ: He knows what's happening. He was there last night. He was there for a while with, you know, Janet Reno and the family, and he was looking at Janet Reno, as I was told by a family member, right in the eye, very serious.

CANDIOTTI: Very scared?

GUTIERREZ: Very serious.

CANDIOTTI: Very serious. What did he say about the attorney general, if anything?

GUTIERREZ: I don't want to comment, you know, what he said. He just felt that the -- you know, he just left the room and went around, you know, with the family, having fun with the policemen. And, you know, he was being Elian again.

CANDIOTTI: Mr. Gutierrez, please explain the circumstances under which the family agreed to or allowed a videotape to be made of this youngster last night. How did that come about?

GUTIERREZ: Well, it was about two weeks ago someone had given them a video camera and took some video about two weeks ago, but they decided not to play it. I suggested that they didn't have to play it mainly because there was some hope. But they were very concerned and -- you know, that people did not hear from Elian's mouth, from Elian himself, freely, what he wants, which he states every day, two to three, four times a day.

So it was the time that the video had to be released. This was shot last night by a family member, and we thought this was the time to do it.

CANDIOTTI: All right. What do you -- how do you think this day will end?

GUTIERREZ: I think it will end peacefully. I think that we should remain calm and do a lot of prayers, and maybe, you know, the government should ask Greg Craig why his client will not meet with his family.

CANDIOTTI: Mr. Gutierrez, thank you for your time. GUTIERREZ: Thank you very much. And we hope that -- that's all they're asking: Meet us as family because blood is thinker than water.

CANDIOTTI: Well, thank you very much for your thoughts.

And we shall see whether, in fact, this continues to be a family divided or whether it is possible for this family to come to some sort of agreement so that a father can again see his son.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

ALLEN: Again, Susan reporting during that live report, breaking news from Spencer Eig, a family attorney, that the family has now filed an injunction in a federal appeals court here in Atlanta asking the government to prevent Elian from being taken and returned to Cuba. We'll explore coming up what are the chances of that injunction being granted for the family.



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