Cuba agrees to return fugitive dad, wife, and two kids to US (+video)
Cuba is not granting asylum to a Florida couple charged with kidnapping their two kids, after a Louisiana judge ended parental rights. The 2000 Elian Gonzalez case may have played a role.
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“If their parental rights were terminated, it would be as though they stole two other children from a day care center or a school,” said Michael Dale, a family law professor at Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Skip to next paragraph
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“These people no longer have any legal interest in those children. They are legally strangers to each other,” he said.
Because of the lack of bilateral agreements between the US and Cuba, any solution had to be negotiated. “If there are no treaties, no conventions, then the question becomes whether or not the two countries, as a matter of reciprocity, will grant relief to the other,” Professor Dale said. “If not, there really isn’t anything you can do about it.”
The negotiations may have been helped by a well-known precedent. Thirteen years ago in 2000, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the forcible return of Elian Gonzalez from relatives in Miami to his father in Cuba.
The 5-year-old boy had been discovered adrift in an inner tube off the Florida coast. His mother and others died trying reach US soil. The boy’s relatives mounted a vigorous legal defense to allow him to remain in the US, per his mother’s wish.
The Clinton administration disagreed. US officials justified their decision to send Elian back to Cuba as necessary to uphold Elian’s father’s parental rights.
In the Hakken case, if the Louisiana family court judge’s ruling is correct, the parental rights concerning the two boys belong not to their parents but to their grandparents.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department issued an arrest warrant last week charging Mr. Hakken with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of interference in child custody, two counts of child neglect, one count of false imprisonment, one count of burglary with battery, and a count of grand theft auto.
According to police reports, Hakken was arrested in June 2012 on multiple drug charges in St. Tammany Parish, La. The report says the arrest came after Hakken had attended “some type of anti-government rally.”
The report says that at some point after the arrest, Louisiana took custody of the two boys and placed them in temporary foster care. Hakken is said to have shown up at the facility with a gun and began beating on the door. He eventually fled without his children.
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