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Fugitive Slave Act

Dear Editor:

I found your June 27 editorial (footnote 1) saying that Elian "can resume life as a little boy instead being the subject of international attention." quite disturbing.

It is true that in Cuba each child has a technically "normal" life when compared to the situation of most other children on the island. Normal however is not natural, for in such life in Cuba the state takes control of every child's life, and in Cuba every child and every ordinary person is by Cuban government decree a chattel of that country's authorities..

A child in Cuba is merely another set of hands to work in the fields fed short rations and housed in substandard conditions separated from his/her parents without even the token salary that adults get. The much vaunted gains in literacy (rates of literacy in the 1950s Cuba was already about 80%) and health care (there are not even aspirin in the common hospitals) are just that, much vaunted, not real.

What disturbs me is that from now on any totalitarian state can produce coerced "parents" to bring a child back, to a life of virtual slavery. This is a reenactment of the horrors that preceded the US Civil war, and the times of the Fugitive Slave Act which obliged authorities in free states to return slaves to their owners.

Were Elian to be returned, and lets us hope, that the Supreme Court has the wisdom to see it otherwise than the lower courts, then a horrible precedent has been set for the twenty-first century,

It might also be wise to keep in mind that Elian was conceived after his putative father divorced his mother, and that after prolonged fertility treatments (important in a slave driven economy with declining birth rate) showed no results. Thus we do not know, nor did INS bother to determine, whether Juan Miguel Gonzalez is the biological father of the child. The INS just accepted at face value brand new documentation produced by a totalitarian government not well known for its adherence to veracity.

Welcome back to the days of the Fugitive Slave Act...... Larry Daley
Corvallis, OR

Footnote 1
Editor's Comments of the Day

On June 23 the 11th Circuit reaffirmed its decision that it is within the authority of the INS to make a determination that the appropriate person to speak for Elian Gonzalez is his father and not his more distant relatives. In Gonzalez v. Reno, No. 00-11424, (11th Cir. June 23, 2000), was emphatic in stating that it would not hear any more appeals of its decision, no stays will be granted and the injunction preventing Elian from leaving the United States will dissolve June 28, 2000 at 4:00 p.m. Atlanta time. The only remaining venue for appeal is the Supreme Court. Unless the Supreme Court acts the Gonzalez family will soon be free to return to Cuba and Elian can resume life as a little boy instead being the subject of international attention.