The way the Justice Department handled the Elian Gonzalez saga this past weekend was a disaster.
Was the force used necessary? Did it really have to come down to an early morning raid with fully armored and armed government agents?
The simple answer is no.
There are other ways to remove a 6-year-old boy from the hands of his relatives besides sticking a gun in his face and causing undeterminable amounts of psychological damage.
Attorney General Janet Reno continues to stand behind the claim that the gun was not pointed at Elian – although the now-famous AP photograph shows a different story — and the soldier’s finger was not on the trigger. Is this even remotely close to justifying the fact that this child had to suffer the trauma of this event?
Whether or not the gun was pointed at him is irrelevant.
Elian Gonzalez is not mature enough to understand the situation his family, his former guardians, the INS and the Justice Department have put him in.
When this turned into a political dispute between Cuba and the United
States as well as disagreement within political parties, it stopped being about Elian Gonzalez.
Everyone had an opinion, yet no one had a clear-cut solution on what to do with the boy. The responsible thing to do is to send him back with his father, but then an alleged violent streak in Juan Miguel Gonzalez’s past had many claiming that he was an unfit father.
While the allegations may or may not have been fabricated, the boy belongs with his father.
That’s what this should have come down to. Elian Gonzalez was among group of people who fled Cuba — not Juan Miguel Gonzalez.
Would the United States be a better place to live for Gonzalez? Of course it would. But Elian is a Cuban and he belongs in Cuba with his father.
So, was the force used to reunite him with his father necessary?
According to a recent CNN/Gallup poll, approximately 60 percent agree with way the situation was handled.
That means that they see as perfectly fine the government’s raid into a private home after a civil court ruling was disobeyed.
What people don’t understand is that this is just another example of the government stepping way over the line to accomplish its goal.
In recent years, glaring incidents stand out of the U.S. Government taking strong-arm tactics to another level. The Manuel Noriega capture and Waco were symptomatic of force that went well beyond efficiency.
In these cases, it was easy to make the opposition out to be the bad guy, but who was hurt the most in “Operation Elian?”
Juan Miguel Gonzalez got back his boy. The extended family never really had a claim to the child. The government accomplished its mission. Cuba is ecstatic. So who suffered?
It’s obvious that the Attorney General, the President, and the agents who went in were no longer thinking about the well-being and future sanity of this child, only their own agenda.
If this involved a 16 year-old, maybe it could have been easier to stomach. The biggest loser and most emotionally damaged in the situation will be an innocent 6 year-old boy whose only crime was surviving: It’s a national disgrace.