Decision about Elian’s future sees no consensus on campus

Jacqui Becker

Elian Gonzalez has not seen his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, since he left his native land of Cuba last Thanksgiving. But the State Department has cleared the way for the two to be reunited by granting the elder Gonzalez a visa.

The media has heavily publicized Gonzalez’s situation, and ISU students and professors have differing opinions about what the fate of the 6-year-old child should be.

Joseph Hraba, professor of sociology, said from a sociological perspective, it is a clear case of conflict.

“The two partaking in conflict relations are Cubans and the United States,” he said. “This little boy is just a mere pawn-in-large that is separating the two sides.”

James McCormick, professor and chairman of political science, teaches a class called “Current Issues in American Foreign Policy.” Last week, the class discussed their feelings about Gonzalez’s situation.

“The general consensus in class was this little boy ought to be sent back,” McCormick said. “I was surprised of the consensus.”

Joelle Borhart, freshman in exercise and sport science, agreed with McCormick’s class consensus.

“If he has a parent left, he should be with him,” she said. “He’ll adjust better to his mom’s death with his dad.”

Laurie Iverson, junior in agricultural business, said she originally thought since his mother died on the passage to the United States, Gonzalez would go back to his father.

“I don’t see how [the U.S. government] can decide his fate,” she said.

Hraba said it is a universal right for children to be with their parents except in extreme circumstances. Currently, Gonzalez is living with a great uncle and a cousin in Miami.

Hraba said many Cuban-Americans are fighting for Gonzalez to stay in America to protect his well-being.

“They think the little boy will be swept in and will not have the same freedom he would have as a Cuban-American,” he said.

The Cuban-American population in Florida has made their voices known, and some recognized this as a main reason for increased attention.

“The only reason for this issue is the loud, outspoken region of Florida that is holding American voting policy,” said Richard Mansbach, professor of political science.

McCormick expressed some of the same concerns as Mansbach.

“There is an intense, politically active Cuban-American population,” he said.