Elian is the true winner, not Cuba

Regarding your article "Big winner in Elian's case: Cuba" (April 24): I am somewhat disturbed by your paper's conclusion that Cuba was the main beneficiary in Elian's return to his father.

First, your article could be read as implying that Castro's interests are synonymous with those of the entire Cuban people. Should the recent crisis over Elian lead to a more open US-Cuba relationship, I doubt Castro or his regime will benefit from such a change in the long run.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that Elianis perhaps the "big winner" in the final resolution of this unfortunate intrafamilial dispute. For children, the stability that can be provided in their parents' home is the surest way toward healthy development.That Elian and his father have been reunited is the best possible outcome for this boy who has already been traumatized by nearly drowning in the Florida Straits and the loss of his mother.

Michael D. Smith Milwaukee, Wis.

To count Castro and Cuba as winners in this is to succumb to the politicization of a family matter, the same horrible mistake that Lazaro Gonzalez and the exile community of Havana made, and that caused so much havoc for Elian, for the government, and for the country. This is not about communism against democracy. This is about a little boy and his father.

If you think a little further into the future, how is Castro now going to sound convincing if he wants to demonize the United States? The US has done the right thing in Castro's eyes and in Cuba's eyes. Castro will have a hard time convincing the Cuban people that the US is evil, if he even tries. Castro has consolidated his power in the past with invective against the US. That platform is now weakened.

Deborah Hayden Polson, Mont.

The dismal failure of the Clinton administration's efforts at a peaceable reuniting of Elian Gonzalez with his father indicates, in my mind, a lack of moral leadership and a failure of nerve. Force is never an answer for cowardice. Violence is never a justified response to lack of patience.

How much better it would have been for a peaceable delegation to show up at the Gonzalez's home and attempt to recover the child by confronting the great-uncle in person.

If that had been done, there would not be the outcry against the "midnight raid" tactics of the Justice Department and INS.

David Russell Lilburn, Ga.

Congratulations on the forthright expression of opinion in your editorial "Father's love, child's rights" (April 24). In the face of all the political posturing from elected officials who purport to cherish "family values," your editorial clearly presents the fact that the one critical issue here is the basic right of a parent to make decisions regarding the upbringing of a child.

Joseph J. Judge Hiawassee, Ga.

In light of the fact that Cubans suffer under one of the cruelest governments on earth, I'm puzzled by the Monitor's jubilant reaction to the "rescue" of Elian Gonzalez, ("Father's love, child's rights").

In all likelihood the child will be sent back to a Communist dictatorship. Janet Reno's bullying tactics more nearly resemble a kidnapping than a rescue.

Your editorial states that a parent-child relationship is "a reflection of spiritually based love everyone has a right to." This is true in a society like ours, but we are dealing with an ideology that denies everything spiritual.

Geraldine Hawkins New York

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