Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Bush: Crunch time," March 4, 2000

Grandma, father both said to want Elian in U.S.
Elián case: Seeing past pro-Castro propaganda
Advocates for keeping Elián Gonzalez in the United States shifted into high gear after the case of the 6-year-old Cuban boy who washed ashore in Florida took ever more bizarre twists. Jeanne O'Laughlin, the Dominican nun and Barry University president who hosted a meeting between Elián and his grandmothers last month, ended weeks of public silence about the case. In an interview with The Miami Herald, she said she has filed an affidavit with Elián's Miami lawyers. It states her belief that Elián Gonzalez's maternal grandmother wanted to defect to the United States while she visited here in January, that the little boy's father knew all along that his ex-wife was taking his son to Miami, and that the father was abusive to Elián's mother. Ms. O'Laughlin refused to give her sources for the information, but denied media accounts that it came in a short conversation between her and Raquel Rodriguez, grandmother of Elián and mother of Elisabet Brotons Rodriguez, who died during the November boat passage from Cuba to Florida. Both Ms. O'Laughlin and Roger Bernstein, attorney for Elián's Miami relatives, say the sources will be revealed only in court; they are under orders from a federal judge not to discuss the case. At a Miami prayer rally over the weekend, another church leader came forward to announce support for Elián's remaining in the United States. K. A. Paul, a Houston pastor with Global Peace Initiative, said he had a change of heart after visiting with family members in Cuba. During a trip to Cardenas, Mr. Paul said the government prohibited him from speaking directly with Elián's father without Cuban security present and insisted on a government-appointed translator. Until then, Mr. Paul said, he believed that the boy should be returned to his father. "But I found the truth, that truly the father wants the boy to stay here, the grandmothers want the boy to stay here," he said. Other developments:

  • Mariano Faget, 54, a Cuban-born Immigration and Naturalization Service supervisor, was arrested Feb. 17 in Miami and charged with revealing classified information to Cuban government officials.
  • On Feb. 19, the State Department told Cuba it would expel Jose Imperatori, the second secretary for consular affairs at the Cuban Interests Section (barring diplomatic relations, the equivalent of an embassy), in Washington. Mr. Imperatori was ordered out of the country after an FBI complaint identified him as one of two Cuban diplomats and intelligence agents who met last year in Miami with Mr. Faget. Mr. Imperatori also met with the grandmothers of Elián Gonzalez during their visit to the United States. Miami-Dade police reported that Mr. Imperatori was at the airport when the grandmas arrived in Miami, took photographs of the scene, and was overheard speaking by phone to Cuban officials.
  • A federal court date for the Gonzalez family was postponed after Judge William Hoeveler, who was set to hear a lawsuit filed by Elián's Miami relatives, suffered a stroke Feb. 19. He is to be replaced by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Moore, who said he would review all filings on the case and act on them during the week of March 6.

-Mindy Belz Me-first parenting and lonely children
One is the most convenient number
Just when you thought the Me Generation had receded into the misty archives of the 20th century, it's back-this time in the form of a new cohort of parents who put themselves before their kids. A spate of articles published last month lauded parents who routed their kids' lives around their own careers instead of the other way around. In Urbana, Ill., for example, when first-grader Annie Valocchi heads for after-school choir practice, she doesn't catch a ride with mom, dad, or even a friend of the family. Instead, she's ferried across town by Stacy McDade, owner of a local child-taxi service. Parents are increasingly using such taxi services to simplify their own lives. Annie's father Al first hired Ms. McDade when his daughter was in kindergarten. School let out at lunch, but Mr. Valocchi, a University of Illinois engineering professor, couldn't leave work to take Annie to daycare. The taxi service "enables me not to have my day all chopped up," Mr. Valocchi said. "I'm much more productive and Annie likes it." At least 100 such taxi services are listed in phone books across the country. So great is the number of parents in Denver who prefer that their children's schedules don't affect their own that demand outstrips taxi supply by more than 300 percent, one taxi service owner says. But a growing segment of the new Me Generation is finding a different solution to the scheduling problems presented by kids: Don't have more than one. The number of "only children" born to American parents is exploding, according to the U.S. Census bureau. But it's not just a matter of economics, late-in-life marriages, or unmarried people adopting a single child. It's also about "personal space." "With two children, I would be too scattered," California mom Fran Lantz told USA Today. Another child would mean "I would not have time for my own activities, and my husband feels that way, too." Susan Newman, author of Parenting an Only Child, puts it this way: "Women who want to have it all can have more of it by having only one child. With one child, you can still be the president of the PTA and advance your career." Naturally, a half-century's worth of child psychology is being rewritten to fit the new orthodoxy. The USA Today story trotted out a phalanx of "only" experts. All, of course, are themselves the parents of one child and all say data showing that children with siblings are more well-adjusted is old news. While such views may prove out, it's the underlying motivation that rankles: Now, it seems, one is no longer the loneliest number; it's just the most convenient.

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