Elian's father rejects accusations of abuse and pleads for return of son

The father of Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old Cuban boy at the centre of an immigration and custody battle, took his case direct to the American public last night, pleading for the return of his son and angrily denying accusations from the child's Miami relatives that he had beaten either Elian or his first wife.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez said on the CBS TV programme 60 Minutes that the charges of abuse "are lies, totally".

Clearly exasperated at what he sees as the most spiteful attempt yet by Miami relatives to thwart his reunion with Elian, he said: "They have tried in every way to set me as a bad father, as a bad husband."

A sworn affidavit alleging violent behaviour by Mr Gonzalez towards his first wife, Elisabeth, and to Elian, was made public by the Miami relatives on Friday, after the US government moved to obtain legal authorisation to return the child to his father by force. The affidavit was supplied by a Cuban exile who knew the family in their hometown of Cardenas in Cuba.

Over the weekend, the Miami relatives also wrote to US government lawyers, asking that Elian not be removed from their care during Easter week.

On Saturday, crowds gathered outside the Miami relatives' home in Little Havana, directing chants of "traitor" and "coward" to Mr Gonzalez, whom they regard as being in thrall to the Cuba's communist leadership.

Last night's television interview with Mr Gonzalez was recorded shortly before he had his first telephone conversation with his son since his arrival in the US on April 6. A Miami Herald reporter who was allowed into the relatives' house to observe the conversation, wrote that Elian appeared reluctant to take the call, but then conversed with his father for 20 minutes.

The reporter said Elian "fidgeted" as he talked, and at the end he blew kisses into the phone. Then he ran to his room, and his relatives said that he was crying.

Mr Gonzalez had lamented earlier in the week that he had repeatedly tried to telephone his son but his calls were not being answered.

The Miami relatives said that Elian did not want to talk to his father, and that they had invited the reporter in to show "that we are not liars". A request by CBS to film Elian speaking to his father was refused.

Elian's mother drowned in the shipwreck that ended her attempt to flee to the US. The boy was rescued by fishermen after two days floating in the Atlantic.

Many Cuban exiles gathered outside the house yesterday expected that US immigration officials would move to take Elian today - the 39th anniversary of the US attempt to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

For many of them, sending Elian back to his father in Cuba would be a betrayal of a similar order.

External links: Let Elian Gonzalez go free | A kick in the rear(ESSAY) | A pie in the face (ESSAY) | Petition for the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba | Petition to Keep Elian Gonzalez in the USA |

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'