Elian 'is being psychologically abused'

The chief paediatrician advising the United States government in the case of the six-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, said yesterday the child was being psychologically abused by his Miami relatives and should be removed from their house at once.

Dr Irwin Redlener made his appeal in a letter to the Attorney General, Janet Reno, and the head of the US immigration service, Doris Meissner, making clear it was a personal and professional initiative on his part and had not been solicited.

Dr Redlener was the paediatrician invited to chair the panel of psychologists that interviewed Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, and several of the Miami relatives last week. The paediatrician wrote: "Elian Gonzalez is now in a state of imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider to bepsychologically abusive." He described the atmosphere surrounding the boy as one of "radical hysteria".

Elaborating on his views in a series of television interviews, Dr Redlener - who is professor of paediatrics at the Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said: "This child needs to be rescued."

The text of the letter was released by the Justice Department in a move seen as an effort to bolster the government's arguments in the event - which appears increasingly likely - that it decides to use force to transfer the boy from his Miami relatives to his father. It was the first time anyone officially advising the government had recommended such drastic action. Until now Ms Reno and other government officials have taken pains to say in public that they knew the Miami relatives love the boy.

Other members of the panel had criticised the relatives for making a video of Elian telling his father he did not want to return to Cuba. But they stopped short of condemning the overall care given by the relatives or calling for the child's removal, still hoping apparently that the relatives and the father could agree to a gradual and amicable transition.

Dr Redlener compared the Elian video to a hostage video.

In Havana, Patricia Ares, a psychologist, told Cuban state television that a team of teachers and psychologists would help Elian recover, saying that he had been psychologically damaged during his stay in Miami.

Cuban television showed pictures of a villa in Havana that, the commentary said, had been renovated for the Gonzalez family when they returned, with Elian, to Cuba. The villa, shown to have a swimming pool and a schoolroom, would accommodate not only the family, but some of Elian's schoolmates and child psychologists. They would ease Elian's reassimilation to life in Cuba in peace and privacy.

Both this footage and Dr Redlener's letter were condemned by the spokesman for the Gonzalez family, Armando Guttierez, and by the steadily swelling crowd of Cuban emigres gathered yesterday outside the relatives' house in the quarter of Miami known as Little Havana.

The doctor, they said, was in no position to conclude that there was any danger to Elian because he had never interviewed, nor even met him.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
health
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before