11 Jul Brett Kavanaugh “fought the good fight” for Elián Gonzalez
Frank Rodriguez, Jr. FACE Cuba contributor
July 11, 2o18
Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a long, distinguished, record within American judicial legal circles. In fact, he has either worked ‘for or with’ current Supreme Court Justices: Kennedy, Kagan, and Gorsuch. So, if Judge Kavanaugh is appointed to the Highest Court in the Land, he will be reunited with jurists with whom he has has a favorable reputation.
In early 2000, then-attorney Brett Kavanaugh represented Cuban refugee Elián Gonzalez, a 6-year-old boy who fled Cuba with his mother by raft in November of 1999. Tragically, Elián’s mother did not survive the journey at sea, and not long after she died, one of the largest international custody battles to date, took place between Elian’s father Juan Miguel Gonzalez in Cuba, and Elián’s Cuban exile family living in Miami, Florida.
Over the course of this lengthy custody dispute, as attorney Brett Kavanaugh argued the merits of allowing Elián to remain in the country, then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was planning the forcible removal of Elián from the Miami home where he was living with relatives. Then during the pre-dawn hours of Easter Eve, April 22, 2000, U.S. Border Patrol’s “tactical unit” busted through the front door of the house, intent on acquiring Elián. Dozens of these armed federal agents stormed through every room in the home, knocking over, smashing, and trampling items like a drug task force raiding a crack house. While outside the home, federal agents pepper-sprayed large crowds of people who wanted Elián to remain in the U.S.
While this calamitous event transpired, Armando Gutierrez (spokesman for Elián’s Miami relatives), called photographer Alan Diaz of the Associated Press to enter the house to record what was happening inside the home. Then Diaz took snapped the epic photo of a federal agent confronting Donato Dalrymple who was holding his nephew Elián.
Much to everyone’s chagrin, Elián appeared visibly distressed as he was carried out of his home towards an SUV, escorted by the large team of unfamiliar, armed, scary-looking federal agents. This was indeed a dark day for the United States, and this unsettling incursion (however lawful it may have been) left an indelible stain on the legacy of President Bill Clinton, and Attorney General Janet Reno. Many ethnic Cubans living in the U.S. today still have disturbing memories of the event, and they understandably blame Bill Clinton for seizing and deporting little Elián from the United States.
Lamentably, young Elián was returned to Cuba, where he was reunited with his father Juan Miguel Gonzalez, a staunch Castro regime loyalist. Elián was also greeted at the airport by Fidel Castro himself, who soon began ‘grandstanding’ to the Cuban people about the U.S. capitulating to his demands, rather than showing even a modicum of gratitude to the nation who had just returned one of “Cuba’s children” to him. No good deed goes unpunished.
Soon after being reunited, Juan Miguel and his son Elián were back at their home in the ill-kept city of Cardenas in the province of Matanzas.
Nonetheless, I believe that attorney Brett Kavanaugh “fought the good fight” by trying to secure permanent residency for a young Cuban boy who got to experience ‘freedom’, while living with relatives who loved him and could adequately provide for him here in the United States. Today, Judge Kavanaugh is to be commended for all that he did to try to keep Elián Gonzalez from being sent back to Cuba.