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Letters to the Editor

Gonzalez case important gauge of domestic politics

As Karthick Ramakrishnan GS wrote in the April 6 'Prince,' the Elian Gonzalez case is in the American spotlight — that fact is non-negotiable. Should it be?


The instincts of many people say no; he is just a little boy with a messed-up family and he should have simply and quietly been sent home months ago. I agree, and that sentiment does indeed have the boy's interest at heart, but there are other reasons that this case still deserves national attention.

Obviously, Cuba's relationship with the United States is a very sensitive subject, most clearly evidenced by the political mobilization of the Cuban-American community in Miami. However, this case is shining a neon spotlight on a major problem with American domestic politics, and you don't need to have any connection with Cuba to be affected by what the Elian case is revealing about Uncle Sam's system.

A recent poll stated that 80 percent of Americans think Elian should be returned to Cuba. If we lived in a truly functional representative democracy, we wouldn't be reading about Elian's continued "captivity" in Miami. The ability of a localized interest group with enough lobbying power to dictate our international policy is appalling, especially with all that is at stake between the two countries.

When I travelled to Cuba, I observed how Cubans are "brainwashed" with ideas about the U.S. government being controlled by the corrupt and powerful mafia. I dutifully denied this claim until I realized that they were not referring to the stereotypically Italian mob of the movies, but rather to the Cuban-American "mafia," which includes many of Florida's politicians and politically-active citizens. This accusation was one I could not honestly deny. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Florida's politicians representing the desires of their constituents. There is, however, something wrong with those populations dominating mine. Last time I checked, I did not vote for the center of international policy decision-making to be moved to the city of Miami.

I am not blaming this group of Cuban Americans for their views. Given their history and experiences, it is understandable that they feel as they do. I blame the lobbying system, which I find to be entirely counterintuitive to our supposedly democratic policy-making procedure. I also blame the nature of American politics that allows the opinion of 80 percent of the country to be less important than the political and financial deal-making that occurs in localized regions.

So, in response to Ramakrishnan, this case should stay in the news. Americans should care what happens to Elian more than they do about the NBA playoffs. The representative ideology of our government is being challenged, and until Elian is returned to Cuba, it appears to be on the losing end. Liza Davies '02