Send the Cuban Boy Home

Thr United States government has behaved heartlessly by not sending a six-year-old boy back to his sole parent in Cuba immediately. Instead, officials are playing politics - just as Cuban leader Fidel Castro is - in trying to make this case more than it is: a simple case of rightful custody.

The boy was found clinging to an inner tube off Florida on Nov. 25. His mother and step-father, along with 12 others, had drowned in an attempt to escape Cuba. His father, speaking on Cuban television and by telephone to his six-year-old son, wants him back.

It doesn't take the wisdom of Solomon to decide that the boy will not suffer any physical harm in returning to Cuba to be with his closest relative. Yet, US officials are dragging this case into a US court while the anti-Castro Cuban-Americans are using this boy's case to further prevent any warming in US-Cuban ties.

What right does a foreign court have to decide custody for a parent in Cuba? Both the father and the boys' maternal grandparents want him back. They clearly have more rights than the boy's great-uncle in Florida.

And no court would take into consideration the wishes of a six-year-old on where he would prefer to live and deny custody to a parent on that basis. That kind of wish may depend on who gives him better toys on a particular day. A young child's interests clearly lie with a parent unless the state - which, in this case, should be a Cuban court - can prove harm. Ignoring that principle bodes ill for future child-custody cases in the US.

The suggestion by some Cuban-Americans that Castro should let the father come to the US and testify in court is unnecessary legally, and is another example of politicizing this case with cold disregard for the boy and a long US tradition of never breaking a precious family bond except in the most extreme cases.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.