By all accounts Elian's Miami relatives sincerely love him. As evidence Armando Gutierrez points out that the family has had numerous opportunities to cash in on Elian and consistently has turned them down. One man literally came to the Gonzalez's front door offering $15,000 in cash to help the family, Gutierrez says, but Lazaro declined. Movie producers from New York have called in hopes of buying the rights to Elian's story. Those offers also have been rejected, Gutierrez says. "These people are black beans and rice," he declares. "They are down to earth. They want to keep their decency, and they don't want to be seen as making money off Elian."
Luis Cid being booked into jail this past September
But the family has come under criticism from people who believe they should not have allowed politicians and self-proclaimed exile leaders to exploit Elian in their never-ending battle against Fidel Castro. Many also believe the family should have done more to protect the boy from the intense glare of publicity.
For those who believe Elian should stay in the United States, the debate often is reduced to a simple contest between the virtue of the United States versus the evil inherent in a Cuba controlled by Castro. An implicit assumption at the heart of their contention is the notion that the form of government under which the child lives is more important than the family with whom he would be living. "Which kind of family is a less important factor in how this boy should be raised than which kind of state," family attorney José Garcia-Pedrosa proclaimed in last week's issue of Time magazine.
The reason? Opportunity. The opportunity for freedom and the opportunity to reap the benefits of living in this prosperous nation. Opportunity, however, is no guarantee for success. Just ask Luis and José Cid.