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Published on Friday, March 31, 2000
A Letter of Apology to Elian Gonzales
by Michael Moore
 

Dear Elian,

Please forgive me for writing to you in English. Three semesters of Spanish, and I can't remember a thing!

Also, please forgive us Americans for standing back and allowing the child abuse you are now experiencing. Normally, in this country, we arrest adults who put children through trauma and exploitation. Normally, we arrest adults like the Mayor of Miami who call for violence and incite a riot. Normally, in this country, we arrest terrorists and either jail or deport them.

Unfortunately for you, we are doing none of this. I apologize. I can only imagine what you are going through. You do not deserve this treatment.

You are being told that your mother died trying to bring you to freedom. I am so sorry to have to tell you, that's not true. The Cuban court granted your father custody of you, and your mother decided to kidnap you. She placed your life in horrible jeopardy by putting you in a leaky, overcrowded raft that eventually sank, killing everyone but you. History is filled with many people who risked their lives escaping to another country because, had they stayed, they would have been imprisoned or killed.

That's not what happened in the case of your mother. Her life was not in jeopardy. Her son -- you -- was in no danger. The worst that could be said is that, in Cuba, you were in jeopardy of receiving free health care whenever you needed it, an excellent education in one of the few countries that has 100% literacy, and a better chance of your baby sister being born and making it to her first birthday than if she had been born in Washington, DC.

The truth is your mother and her boyfriend snatched you and put you on that death boat because they simply wanted to make more money. I can understand why they wanted a better life. Cuba is a poor country. America, from 90 miles away, looks like a rich country. The majority of people who have sailed to this country in the past have come for the same reason. Often, they have come because they did not like living in a country, such as Cuba, where you cannot freely elect your president and your basic rights are limited. I can understand that.

But your mother placed you in a situation where you were certain to die on the open seas (as the rest did) and that is unconscionable. It was the ultimate form of child abuse, and I see now why the Cuban judge did not give your mother custody.

Now you are with "relatives" in Miami. Normally, in this country, when we say, "I'm going to stay with the relatives," we mean brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.

You are with a "great-uncle" and a "second cousin." It's not that they aren't blood-related, but, let's face it, in our country they and the third cousins-once removed are usually not sitting at the Thanksgiving table and are only rarely heard from when they need bail money or part of the inheritance. But in our country, no "relative" replaces the parent. A brother, cousin or "great-uncle" who holds a child against the will of the parent is committing a major crime.

You must really miss your daddy! I hear he's coming soon. Those "relatives" are trying to prevent him from being with you. I know, that doesn't feel like love, does it? Please don't take it personally. They do love you. They love having you to toss around in front of the TV cameras so they can further their own political agenda.

You are only six, so I know you can't understand what all of the politics are about. That's okay. Some day, you will. In time, you'll read how these former Cubans, who are abusing you, instead of staying in Cuba and fighting for freedom like our ancestors did for this country in 1776, they turned tail and ran to Miami. Once here, they began demanding that we Americans fight their fight for them.

What did we do?

Something stupid! We fought their fight for them! We based our entire foreign policy in this hemisphere on one thing -- eliminating Castro. We tried to assassinate him. We sent "troops" to invade at the Bay of Pigs. We prevented medicine and food from being shipped to Cuba. When I was nearly your age, we almost blew up the world over Cuba and Castro. Can you believe that? We had become as insane as those ex-Cubans in Miami!

And we've stayed that way for forty years. We're still wacked-out over Cuba. Last year, we fined an American citizen $10,000 because he went down to Cuba to tune pianos! It's illegal in this "free" country to travel there. Loopy, huh? We've been driven crazy 'cause that we still can't get rid of Fidel Castro. He's out-lived nine of our presidents!

We have allowed these ex-Cubans with the yellow stripe down their backs to operate numerous terrorist missions from South Florida. These same ex-Cubans were the ones who broke into a place called Watergate (that eventually brought down a president), ran drugs for arms operations (that brought down a popularly-elected government in Nicaragua), and, according to some Americans, were behind the assassination of our president, John Kennedy (that puts us on a slippery slope we're still sliding down).

Now, these very ex-Cubans who were afraid to stand and fight Castro have suddenly found the courage to fight...us! That's right, they have made it clear that they will fight, with violence, any federal officers or troops who are sent in to enforce our laws (those outrageous ones which say a son should be with his father).

And you are caught in the middle of all this. I am so sorry. I wish there was something I could personally do. I will write to our Attorney General and tell her to stop this child abuse. I will encourage others to do the same. I wish I could convince our vice-president (who's running for president) to help, but he too has decided to abuse you by using you for his own political gain. The governor of the state you're in, Jeb Bush, is the brother of a man running for president. He wants to use/abuse you, too. I just want you to know that 80% of the country doesn't like either of these men.

I guess that's the silver lining in your little cloud. The majority of Americans are sickened by the way you are being treated. Please understand that bad things are often done in our name and with our money and there is little we can do, as the choices on our ballots are nearly as slim as the choices your father has on his.

It's not easy being six -- anywhere in the world. I know this all too well. My country, the one your mother thought you should be living in, allows its six-year olds access to guns, and a little six-year old girl in my hometown was killed last month by another six-year old. This is the world we adults have created for you. This is the world I promise to do my best, in my own small way, to change.

I pray you'll be playing catch soon with your wonderful, loving daddy on a Cuban baseball diamond. By the time you're 18, long after Castro and the Bushes and all this nonsense is gone, maybe you can come back to America on your own free will.

The Tigers, I can assure you, will still be in desperate need of some good pitching.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com

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