Features

A Chronology: Elian, from the high seas t the highest offices in the land

International

Issue: "Georgia twisters," Feb. 26, 2000

NOV 22, 1999: Juan Miguel Gonzalez telephoned Lazaro Gonzalez, his uncle in Miami, to inform him that his former wife Elisabet and son Elián were on their way to the United States by boat. He asked Lazaro to care for them. NOV 25, 1999: Cousins Sam Ciancio and Donato Dalrymple, fishing off the coast of Florida near their Fort Lauderdale homes, spot 5-year-old Elián Gonzalez, barely afloat on an inner tube and surrounded by dolphins. The fishermen hand over Elián to the U.S. Coast Guard, which transfers him to Joe DiMaggio Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. Lazaro and Angela Gonzalez, and their daughter, Marisleysis, arrive at the hospital and identify Elián as Lazaro's great-nephew. Lazaro again speaks by phone with Juan Miguel, Elián's father, who asks Lazaro to care for the boy. Immigration officials parole Elián into the United States as an "arriving alien," as required by law because he has arrived on U.S. soil without first being inspected and admitted by immigration authorities. He is placed in the custody of Lazaro and Angela Gonzalez by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. DEC 1, 1999: INS issues a statement, reading: "Although INS has no role in the family custody decision process, we have discussed this case with the state of Florida officials who have confirmed that the issue of legal custody must be decided by its state court. However, Elián will remain in the U.S. until the issues surrounding his custody are resolved." DEC 5, 1999: Fidel Castro issues a "72-hour ultimatum" to President Clinton, demanding that Elián be returned to Cuba. Schools and workplaces in Cuba are closed, so that Cubans may attend state-sponsored demonstrations demanding Elián's return. Havana claims it has a letter from Juan Miguel, Elián's father, demanding that Elián be returned to him. DEC 6, 1999: Elián turns 6 years old. DEC 13, 1999: Lazaro Gonzalez, acting as "next friend" of Elián, files a petition for asylum on his behalf. DEC 13, 1999: INS interviews father Juan Miguel in Cuba. DEC 15, 1999: Elián Gonzalez, individually and in accordance with federal statutes that do not bar testimony of minors or under-age applications for asylum, files a petition for asylum. DEC 20, 1999: INS meets with Miami relatives of Elián, including his great-uncle Lazaro and cousin Marisleysis, and their attorneys. DEC 22, 1999: INS postpones an inspection interview, required by Elián's alien status, until Jan. 21, 2000. JAN 5, 2000: INS withdraws both petitions for political asylum. Director Doris Meissner announces that the agency will accede to the wishes of Elián's father and return him to Cuba by Jan. 14. JAN 6, 2000: INS returns to the Gonzalez family applications filed on Dec. 13 and Dec. 15 with a letter saying they are unacceptable. JAN 7, 2000: Elián Gonzalez is served with a subpoena by House Government Reform Committee chairman Dan Burton, ordering his appearance before Congress Feb. 10, in a move to keep Elián on U.S. soil. JAN 7, 2000: Lazaro Gonzalez files a Verified Petition for Temporary Custody in Miami-Dade County circuit court. JAN 10, 2000: Circuit court issues a temporary protective order, granting Lazaro Gonzalez "such limited legal authority as necessary to preserve the status quo and prevent the child's removal from this jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, the authority to assert and protect such rights as the child may have under United States immigration law. The court asked Elián's father, Juan Miguel, to appear in the United States in order to present his own views according to the procedure. U.S. Interests Section in Havana says Juan Miguel may apply for and receive a U.S. visa for travel to the United States, but Elián's father declines. JAN 11, 2000: Lazaro Gonzalez, acting as temporary legal custodian, files a petition for asylum on behalf of Elián Gonzalez. JAN 12, 2000: Attorney General Janet Reno denies jurisdiction of Florida courts to issue the temporary protective order, contradicting the Dec. 1 INS statement regarding custody. JAN 13, 2000: INS refuses application for asylum filed by Lazaro Gonzalez. JAN 24, 2000: Both houses of Congress introduce bills to grant Elián Gonzalez U.S. citizenship. JAN 25, 2000: Cuba detains prominent dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Hector Palacios and jails a journalist in a continuing crackdown on internal opposition. JAN 26, 2000: The grandmothers of Elián Gonzalez visit him during a brief meeting in Miami at the home of Barry University president Jeanne O'Laughlin. Miami relatives of Elián file lawsuit in federal court, challenging INS ruling. INS immediately files motion to dismiss. FEB 22, 2000: U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler (who presided over the highly publicized trial of Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega) is scheduled to hold hearing on the lawsuit, along with the Justice Department's motion to dismiss. MAR 6, 2000: Florida state court is scheduled to hold hearing on custody for Elián Gonzalez.

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Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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