Monday, August 27, 2007

Cuban Custody Battle Gets Heated in Miami

Sounds like an another interesting day down at the Miami Courthouse in the custody trial of the 4-year old Cuban girl that is finally beginning to get some press attention.

In early action, Florida prosecutors got berated by the Judge for trying to argue that a 4 year-old child would be "irrevocably harmed" by being reunited with his father in a small town in Cuba - something both the father and mother desperately want.

The center of the case now seems to lie on whether Rafael Izquierda, the 4-year old girl's biological father, lost his rights by not acting like a good father. His fault seems to be that he allowed his child to go to the United States with his mother seeking a better life for his child. How was he supposed to know it would lead them to ruin and result in this needless custody fight? After all, he hears the same propoganda we all do about the American Dream.

There was an interesting disclosure about why there is no written documentation of the birth mother's (Elena Perez) supposedly having given up custody of her child in Feb. 2006. It is apparently because the previous judge - Spencer Elg, who represented the Miami relatives of Elizan Gonzales 7 years ago - did not sign the needed paperwork. The current Judge Cohen, tried to minimize the issue by saying Elg could just sign a document saying it happened exactly like the State says. I would no imply that the current Judge could be influenced by her predecessor's conflict of interest. But as the Miami Herald reports, this certainly got things cookin':

That prompted a tense hourlong argument with lawyers for the girl's birth parents. Cohen at first declined to discuss the missing documents.

"Can we be heard?'' asked Ira Kurzban, a lawyer for Rafael Izquierdo, the girl's birth father. "This is outrageous. This is Alice in Wonderland.''

Cohen read long passages from the transcript of the Feb. 21, 2006, hearing, in which Perez described in detail her struggles in the United States after she legally emigrated from Cuba with her two children.

''I was coming here with great ideas, thinking only positive things for me and my children,'' she said, according to the transcript.

But as soon as Perez arrived at Miami International Airport her husband, Jesus Melendres, abandoned her. ''My dream [was] to stay in the U.S.,'' Perez said. His desire [was] to go back to Cuba.''

With the help of Catholic Charities, Perez said, she resettled in Houston, where she found a job at a shampoo factory. Months later, struggling for work and help with the children, she returned to Miami.

Perez said she called 911 because she desperately needed help. ''I did this looking for protection for my children,'' she said.

Both Kurzban and Greer Wallace, Perez's lawyer, said the transcript shows Perez did not give up custody voluntarily. For one thing, they said, Perez did not have a court interpreter. A relative of Perez's estranged husband, who may have had motives of his own, they said, translated.

The transcript shows Perez appeared confused: ''It's just that I don't understand,'' she said at one point.

Wow! So the State of Florida is arguing it is ok to take the custody away from a woman (and father) based on the fine print of a conversation that took place with a crooked would-be translator? Someone needs to tell the Judge that the United States says you must disregard anything said without a a Grade A plus official Government translator is null and voice - so much that it compells us to release known terrorists.

But how about the situation of poor Mrs. Perez. Granted we don't know the whole story, but the fact that her husband left her and then goes BACK to Cuba is astounding. So is her opinion of the American Dream. But as that does not fit in the narrative Mr. Cubas is so known for.

This case appears to be going the way of justice, probably the reason why the Cuban press (and Fidel) have so far been silent about the case. But the silence of the US media speaks volumes about how stories that don't fit the mold of the "American Dream" get treated (only the Post, NPR, a few papers and local Florida media have really covered the story thus far, but I sense a surge gathering).



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