Gore-White House rift over Cuban boy

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The Independent US

A rift has opened up within the US government over Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old boy who is at the centre of a tussle between America and Cuba.

Al Gore, the US Vice President and Democratic candidate for president, yesterday broke with the White House view that the boy should not remain in the US. "I am urging Congress to immediately pass legislation... which would grant permanent resident status to Elian, his father, stepmother, half-brother, grandmothers and grandfather so that this case can be adjudicated properly,'' Mr Gore said.

Elian's mother tried to smuggle him to the US on a boat that sank, killing her and 10 other refugees. He was rescued, claimed by relatives in the US and his father in Cuba, and a fierce fight began between Washington, Miami and Havana. The issue has enraged the Cuban-American community in Florida, an important state in this year's elections.

Washington is waiting for a delegation of Cubans, including the boy's father, which may turn an already complicated situation into a political circus. Fidel Castro stunned Cuba and America late on Wednesday by announcing that Juan Miguel Gonzalez was ready to fly to America. He would be accompanied by 30 relatives, as well as Ricardo Alarcon, Cuba's National Assembly President and a former foreign minister.

The boy's Miami relatives are refusing to agree to conditions set by the US government for him to stay. In Miami thousand of people have taken to the streets in protesting against the government's attempts to reunite the child with his father.

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