This week marks the ten year anniversary to the Elian Gonzalez case, the story that captured national and international attention for seven months between 2000 and 2001.
In case you forgot, Elian was the sole survivor of a ship carrying his mother and eleven others that sunk as its travelers fled Cuba in hopes of finding a better life in America.
The story became complicated when Elian's father, who had been separated from Elian's mother and still living in Cuba, demanded that his son be returned to him. Elian's relatives living in Miami and who were taking care of him since his rescue, however, fought to keep him in the United States.
Different legal issues arose during this case, such as the question of granting Elian asylum in the States and Elian's father's custody rights visa vi Elian's family members.
The United States government, under Bill Clinton, focused the discussion on the legalities of the issues, making the case a debate on custody rights between Elian's father and Elian's family in the United States, with Elian's father eventually winning.
After reading the article I had the following questions:
1) Do we genuinely believe in the "American Way of Life" over other belief systems specifically Communism? If so why send Elian back to grow up under a regime who's way life we condemn?
2) All things remaining the same but the father lived in America, who do you think should have custody over the child, the more stable family members or the father?
3) Had this happened in a different period in U.S history, say the 70's, or shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis would people be more prone to allowing Elian to stay, and thereby "saving him" from Communism, or would they opt to send him back out of hatred for his motherland?
What does this say about current and historic U.S. and Cuban relations?
4) From a logical standpoint, it is obvious that a part of his family was vehemently against sending him back to Cuba, and the mother was willing to risk her and her son's lives for the hope of a better future, so why return the kid to the exact same place he escaped from?
5) We know that laws reflect the values and beliefs of a time and as such are malleable. Eventually the father's right to his child outweighed all others. What does this say about the American values system? Do we believe more in the importance of family than we do in our way of life? Has the family become more important than the belief system itself?