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Fathering News
Check these stories:

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85% of Youths in Prison Grew Up in Fatherless Home Source: Texas Department of Corrections.

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How to Fight Sex Abuse Allegations and Win False Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse: What You Should Know.

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Of Statistics, Single Mothers and the Politics of Language Studies show that, overwhelmingly, children being raised in homes with both a mother and a father enjoy a lot of benefits that children from single parent homes do not.

Children in Single-Mom Households at Risk The fact that children raised by single mothers are at increased risk is found over and over again.

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VAWA: Joe Biden's Shame Family courts discriminate against men, with no value placed on justice.

Elián González

How Many T-shirts and Banners Must He Become?

by Mark A. Rogers

page three



De Valle reported that Lazaro and his brother Jikary were believed to be the first to perish in the sea. A third who went to help was perhaps the boys’ father, Rafael. According to de Valle’s account:

One of them decided to try and swim for land and send help. When he ran into difficulty, his brother followed. When both seemed to struggle, a third man swam off to help them. None of the three were ever seen again.

Arianne told de Valle that when a woman in the group had learned that her sons had perished in the sea she decided that she had nothing left to live for and let go of the inner tube to perish as well. De Valle believed that this woman was Lazaro’s mother, Mariellena Garcia. Arianne told de Valle that she tried to grab this woman while she and the others screamed out their pleas for this woman to hold on to the inner tube.

Arianne and Nivaldo told de Valle that on Wednesday they screamed and waved at several big ships to come and rescue them, but that they went unnoticed. De Valle reported that Arrianne, Elián, and another woman, possibly Merida Barrios, Nelson Rodriguez’s mother, who was believed to have been the last voyager with Elián, were on one inner tube while Nivaldo remained on the other one. According to de Valle’s account, later in the day on Wednesday, Nivaldo became delirious and was starting to lose consciousness. Arianne untied herself from the inner tube and swam over to Nivaldo’s inner tube to slap him back to life.

When it became dark the couple told de Valle that they could see little lights off in the distance. They also told de Valle they were certain they were seeing a shoreline. They decided to swim for the shoreline but they told her that the currents kept pushing them back out to sea. De Valle reported, “Tired, weak and thirsty, they decided to rest for a while, keeping their eyes on the horizon.”

According to the account the couple reported to de Valle, on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1999 when the couple woke up from falling half-asleep because they could no longer keep their eyes open, they realized that they had become separated from Elián’s inner tube. When the couple again saw some lights they began to kick and paddle the inner tube toward the lights and eventually saw some boats and a marina just off Key Biscayne.

In the mean time, de Valle reported Donato Dalyrymple along with his cousin, Sam Ciancio, were in Sam’s boat with Donato at the controls on the Intracoastal Waterway in Pompano Beach headed out on a fishing trip. Donato told de Valle, “We were just out of Lighthouse Point, and I was zigzagging southeast at an angle. There were three- to five-foot waves. It was rough out there, very rough.” Sam was baiting the poles when Donato spotted “a dark thing, circular in shape” at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. When they approached the object, Donato told de Valle he thought there was a person inside the inner tube and saw what he believed was a hand and the top of a man’s head. When Sam looked again at the inner tube he told his cousin, “Isn’t that a sick joke? That somebody would tie a doll to an inner tube?”

The men began to reel in their catch when they felt tugs on the poles. Sam was working on reeling in a fish while Donato lost the bite on his pole and told de Valle, “So I went back to the steering wheel to get a closer look. I didn’t think it was a dummy in there.” De Valle reported that Donato told her something kept nagging him.

I’m telling you there’s someone in that inner tube. I think he’s dead,” he yelled to his cousin. Then, as if on cue, he saw a hand move. It slipped a little, then reached up again to get a better grasp.

His cousin told him to pull the boat over as he stripped in seconds and jumped into the water. When he pulled the boy in, they couldn’t believe it.

“I asked him, ‘Do you speak English?’ and he didn’t answer,” Dalrymple said. “He didn’t look American, so I asked, ‘Tu hablas español?” and he said, ‘Si.’ But real softly, like a little sigh.”

The boy never cried. “He never showed any tears or signs of being scared, even though he’s probably been through hell and back and I’m sure he’s never seen two Americans before,” Dalrymple said, his eyes widening as if he were telling the story for the first time.

The man with the tattoos covering both forearms cradled the weak foreign boy in his arms anyway.

“While my cousin is on the phone, I’m kissing his face, his forehead and his cheeks and his chin, and holding him,” Dalrymple said, crossing his arms on his chest as if he still held the child.

The exhausted boy immediately fell asleep, he said.

What Elián woke up to face must have been a reality that he has never experienced before in his life and also a reality that he never imagined he would ever have to face in the course of his lifespan. Aldo Madruga (2000, January) reported that all of Cuba knows Elián and today is concerned about his destiny.

Elián is the Cuban boy who in a few day’s time went from happy and peaceful anonymity to the front pages of many of the world’s newspapers, his drama spotlighted before millions of readers. His story is, despite everything else, that of a child. You could begin telling it by talking about his handmade scooter and scores of games, whose current silence is a confirmation of the emptiness and sadness eating away at the González and Brotón families…You could begin it by mentioning the blue, white and red kite he made with his uncle Juan Antonio, which he left behind in Cuba, never having flown it—along with the red star he gave to his grandmother to decorate it the next day—which today brings back memories and gives hope that he may be returned, putting an end to the pain. Or you could talk about the wooden sword made by one of his grandparents, that’s lost its edge after having fended off heartache and nostalgia so much during these days; or focus on the small ring that he gave to his grandmother Mariela a few months ago out of his love for her, which today she caresses.

Lucian Newman, CNN Havana Bureau Chief (2000, January 7) reported that Juan Miguel González, the biological father of Elián, has been attending many of the protest rallies that demand Elián is repatriated to his papá in Cuba. Newman stated that Juan Miguel has never spoken up at these rallies, and now for the first time, he addressed the crowd.

We're going now on so many days without being able to hug, kiss or feel my son. Words can't describe the feelings that this separation has caused. I come here to express that it would have been impossible to go through all the suffering if it had not been, if it had not been¾if I had not been able to count on you, the people of Cuba. Elián is not a t- shirt. He is not a banner. Elián was kidnapped, and what he stands for is the dignity of Cubans.

During a segment of CNN’s World View where Bernard Shaw, CNN Anchor, (2000, January 5) posed a question to Lucian Newman regarding whether Elián’s repatriation was a political issue, or an issue just about a little boy, she offered the following commentary.

Well technically, this is just about a little boy, but it’s obvious that this wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t political. From the very moment that Elian Gonzales set foot on the U.S. soil, he became a banner, a symbol, that has fanned the old Cold War passions, the old Cold War sentiments, that have been really ruling the relationships between the United States and Cuba for more than 41 years now. And in Cuba, he also became a symbol and a banner that the government has used to depict what it called the arrogance of the empire of the United States, and certainly this has had some echo on the public here.

Anne McDermott, CNN Correspondent, (2000, January 5) produced a segment for in “Focus” that responded to Joie Chien’s (CNN anchor) question that there are people who say that Elián has been living a charmed life over the past month or longer since he arrived in the U.S., but on the other hand, what does a 6-year old child like Elián think about when he’s the center of so much attention?

ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE OVER): You are only 6 years old, and already a survivor. You survived the breakup of your parents, and you had to leave your father behind when your mother decided to sail from Cuba on a terrible journey to America, a journey that killed your mother. But you made it all the way to Fantasy Land. It must have looked wonderful¾the amusement parks, those piles of presents, not to mention cakes and ponies, and all for you.

What must you be thinking? A child psychologist can only guess.

JESSICA GILLOOLY, PSYCHOLOGIST: I’m assuming this will probably feel like a dream to him.

MCDERMOTT: A good dream, no doubt, if only because there’s simply so much fun here, and there are so many people who love you here. Now Cuba might seem drab after the dazzle. No Disney World, no ponies, but it does share something precious with the U.S. In Cuba, there are people who love you, too. What must you be thinking? Are you even aware of the forces pulling at you¾your Cuban family, the family in the U.S.? Now some officials say you will go home, but your American family says they’ll fight that all the way. Well, can you go back? You are a survivor.

GILLOOLY: Children are adaptable. There’s no doubt about that. Children are remarkably adaptable.

MCDERMOTT: Yes, but you are only 6 years old. You may not know about this international tug-of-war, or even care. Maybe, despite the dazzle, what you really are is a little boy who’s lost his mother. What must you be thinking?

Aldo Madruga (2000, January) reported that Yamilín Morales Delgado, Elián’s first-grade teacher in Cuba has cried a lot these days thinking about what Elián has gone through. “So small, alone in the ocean clinging to an inner tube, amidst the darkness and the ocean, terrorized.” She reported that Elián is a shy boy who is honest, well raised and gets along capably with his classmates. “…Aside from his mother’s mistake, [he] was well looked after by her and his father. Both of them took care of him that’s what I’m told.” She went on to tell Madruga

What could have been his last words to his mother? Could he have seen her die? How many things could he have heard and seen in those moments when death claimed 14 in the tragedy? What kinds of terrible scenes will stay in the memory of this small boy? …So when I see his empty chair and realize the pressures he’s exposed to in the United States, so small and with such a terrible recent experience, it breaks my heart, …they have to be very blind and sick with hatred to use a child in such circumstances in their politics against the Cuban Revolution.

Juan Miguel González, Elián’s father, told Aldo Madruga (2000), people are trying to gain Elián’s favor by buying him toys and gifts that are influencing Elián’s telephone conversations with Juan Miguel. Madruga reported that he recently visited Juan Miguel and his family in Cárdenas after Juan Miguel had just finished talking with his son on the telephone. Madruga reported that Juan Miguel was red with anger and also short of breath. When Madruga asked Juan Miguel about his conversation with his son, Juan Miguel told Madruga:

He hasn’t forgotten his family, but it’s a crime how they’re pressuring my son to tell me things they want him to say. After I told him to be calm, that we were doing everything possible to get him back soon, I heard a voice from an older person telling him to say that he wanted to stay and become a pilot for Brothers to the Rescue. They interrupted him constantly and tried to get him to say what they wanted. He told me at the end ‘Bye-bye, papá,’ and I told him to tell me good-bye in Spanish. …They plan to have a trial in Miami to decide who will have custody of my son, with the hope of buying off the judges like they always do but I’m not stupid, nor am I going to give them that pleasure. They have to return Elián, and from here I demand it. My lawyer is the best in the world: the people of Cuba.

Andrea Mitchell (2000, January 8) discussed with Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, during part of the interview related to the case of Elián González, Castro’s concerns with how Elián’s personality could change the longer Elián remains in the U.S.

One of the things that most concerned our people is the idea that this child has been showered with sophisticated toys; they even put him in a toy plane to pretend that he was a Brothers to the Rescue pilot, and dressed him in clothes and sweatshirts with the emblem of the infamous Cuban American National Foundation which, in any case, is not national but bi-national, given that it is composed of ex-Cubans and a certain number of U.S. citizens. That wounded our people very, very much.

…I know that his family in Cuba, the child’s father, has gone for over 48 hours without talking to the child, first because he was getting dressed and ready for the banquet and then, on Sunday or Monday, because they took him to Disney World, to take photos of him with all the Disney characters, and to stay overnight in a cabana there. During those 50 hours, the family was unable to talk to the boy. They were only able to do so last night, and the conversations are controlled, with the boy under pressure. Those things cause anger, and have concerned eminent scientists, psychologists, specialists in child psychology, specialists in education, because they are doing monstrous things to that six-year-old child, as the world looks on. We’re not so concerned about avoiding a prolongation of the family’s suffering, which is terrible¾the father above all is suffering terribly and the grandparents as well, and they are the ones who have the right to his custody and care. It’s not a question of a few days, more or less. The vital question is, how long does it take to change the mentality of a six-year-old child?

When Andrea Mitchell asked Castro about his apprehension that Elián could say he wants to stay in the U.S., and that all the toys he is receiving might seduce him, Castro commented

The problem is that his real family in Cuba cannot resign itself to the idea, and the people cannot resign themselves to the idea that, by using those cynical procedures, they are trying to change the mentality of a child, to uproot him from his real family, from his nearest and dearest, to break those links in an innocent and defenseless child, to destroy that. What will be left of that child’s identity? Thus, the response that we want from scientists and the specialists is to know how long it could take to change the mentality of a child at that early age.

…I ask myself: “Why do they want to stretch this out, possibly to change the child’s mentality, to destroy the mind of that child? What will be left of that child’s psychology? How will he re-adapt to the bosom of his real family? And I know his family members have suffered, precisely through perceiving a certain state of timidity in the child, at certain times, as if they were trying to wrest the father’s affection from him. That is a crime, one of the most monstrous crimes. If somebody sees that a child is being murdered, that his life is being torn to pieces, surely they won’t be in agreement. If they see that a child’s mind is being destroyed, totally changed, for shameless propagandistic ends, that is worse than physical death, and I am sure that many people have become aware that this is the destruction of the mind of a six-year-old boy.

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Copyright © 2000, Mark A. Rogers, M.S., M.A., Psy.D.
All rights reserved.
Honisa Behavioral Treatment Centers, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

About the author...



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