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
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: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
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