Elian’s Miami uncle, Lazaro, explained it repeatedly and best: “I always said I would turn over Elian to his father, when Juan Miguel would come here and claim him. But I (along with practically everyone with experience under communism from Cambodians to Hungarians and from Lithuanians to Cubans) knew such a thing was impossible. He couldn’t do that. I knew it wasn’t Juan Miguel requesting Elian– it was Fidel.”
The legal-weasels forgot (or missed) that on Dec, 1st 1999 the INS asserted that Miami-based uncle Lazaro was indeed Elian’s legal custodian and Florida’s family court indeed the place to arbitrate further issues .
Then on Dec 5th, 1999, Castro clapped his hands and his U.S. media minions along with the Clinton administration snapped to attention.
“Bill Clinton was terrified of Castro,” later explained Dick Morris. “Clinton looked over his shoulder for rafters the way Castro is always looking over his shoulder expecting an invasion of marines.”
The Mariel exodus of Cubans in 1980, you see, had cost Bill Clinton the only electoral loss of his life. Some of the Cuban criminals Castro sent over (a small portion of the refugees, actually) had been held in Fort Chafee Arkansas, as agreed by Governor Clinton acting on Jimmy Carters request. Shortly the criminals rioted, many horrified Arkansans blamed the governor, and Bill Clinton lost the next elections.
Point is, the Clinton team who ordered the Elian raid knew exactly what was going on behind the scenes and were simply reacting to Castro’s blackmail. They knew Elian’s father wanted Elian to remain in the U.S. They knew Juan Miguel would have defected to the U.S. in a nanosecond if given half the chance. They knew Castro held a gun to Juan Miguel’s head. How could they not? Bill Clinton’s lawyer and chum Gregory Craig, who had sprung him from the Lewinsky rap, now represented Elian’s father (i.e. Fidel Castro behind the façade.) Craig even traveled to Cuba and met with the Stalinist dictator himself to batten down the details of his (Potemkin) client’s visit to the U.S.
Some of these details were uncovered during the U.S. visit by an alarmed Pedro Porro during the taping of Juan Miguel’s father 60 Minutes “interview” with Gregory Craig’s other chum, Dan Rather.
"Juan Miguel Gonzalez was surrounded by Castro security agents the entire time he was in the studio with Rather." This is an eye-witness account from Pedro Porro, who served as Dan Rather's translator during the famous 60 Minutes interview. Dan Rather would ask the question in English into Porro's earpiece whereupon Porro would translate it into Spanish for Elian's heavily-guarded father.
"Juan Miguel was never completely alone," says Porro. "He never smiled. His eyes kept shifting back and forth. It was obvious to me that he was under heavy coercion. I probably should have walked out. But I'd been hired by CBS in good faith and I didn't know exactly how the interview would be edited - how it would come across on the screen.
"The questions Dan Rather was asking Elian's father during that 60 Minutes interview were being handed to him by attorney Gregory Craig," continues Pedro Porro. "It was obvious that Craig and Rather where on very friendly terms. They were joshing and bantering back and forth, as Juan Miguel sat there petrified. Craig was stage managing the whole thing - almost like a movie director.”
So whatever else can be said, the Clintons weren’t ignorant. They were cowing to Castroite blackmail. So let’s call them something else; perhaps “ethically-challenged” and/or “cowardly.”
But how can a Republican who came of political age during the Cold War, and who actually fought Communists in Viet-Nam, have been unaware that Communist regimes can apply unseen pressure to their inmates? Can a prospective U.S. Secretary of Defense have taken at face value the word of the same Stalinist dictator who declared:
“Again I stress I am not a communist. And Communists have absolutely no influence in my nation!” (Fidel Castro, April 1959)
“Political power does interest me in the least! And I will never assume such power!” (Fidel Castro, April 1959)
“What!” Nikita Khrushchev gasped, as recalled by his son Sergei, “Is he (Fidel Castro) proposing that we start a nuclear war? That we launch missiles from Cuba?”
“Of course I knew the missiles were nuclear- armed,” responded Fidel Castro to Robert McNamara during a meeting in 1992. “That’s precisely WHY I urged Khrushchev to launch them.”
But it appears that we’ll soon entrust our nation’s security to a U.S. Secretary of Defense who wholeheartedly trusted Fidel Castro.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.