Elian Gonzalez sure is a cute kid. So is Alexis.
You know Elian right? Most famous 6 year old in the world. We're pretty sure you don't know Alexis; she lives down the block from us. Yahoo has 194 photos of Elian on file, but none of Alexis, so we'll describe her to you. She has dark skin and a big bright grin - sparkling eyes too; joyous laugh. She has pretty typical tastes for a six-year-old girl; likes Barbies and stuffed animals. She doesn't have a lot of toys, but she sure has fun when she gets a new present.
Everyone cares about Elian. The very highest reaches of the most powerful government on earth, the Attorney General and President of the United States, have opinions about Elian. Three senior federal judges, just one step below the US Supreme Court, are currently trying to decide whether Elian will grow up in the US or in Cuba. In Miami the Police Chief resigned and the City Manager was fired as a result of the Elian controversy. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stated her opinion on the Elian case.
What's everyone's opinion on Alexis? What do you think about Alexis? Why do I ask? Well, Alexis' teeth are so bad she can barely eat. We think there's some government program that would pay to have her teeth fixed, but no one's bothered to take her to the dentist. Alexis should probably be in school, but she's not. But no matter: Alexis is not a media star, she's just another kid. Real cute though.
Right now, Elian is playing at the federally protected Wye Plantation in Maryland. Alexis is playing in the street; traffic's pretty light though, so she probably won't get hit by a car today.
Elian got to America via raft. His mother died trying to reach freedom. Alexis was born in America. So was her mother. And her mother's mother.
Alexis still has her mother; not sure where the father is.
Does anyone know how much money has been spent on the Elian case? There have been scores of high-ranking government officials involved, and Elian's father has been flown around the country in government jets to attend various hearings. And then there are the numerous court cases, each involving the usual band of court functionaries. When Elian and his family went to dinner at the home of wealthy Clinton donor Smith Bagley, he traveled via motorcade, escorted by police and US Marshals.
About 140 federal agents were involved in the elaborate planning, preparation, and raid that removed Elian from the home of his Miami relatives in Little Havana. Two helicopters were on stand-by to spirit Elian away; in case of bad weather a speedboat was waiting in Biscayne Bay. Want to kidnap Alexis? No problem; there's usually no one watching her, and she probably wouldn't be missed for a while.
What's our point? We're Outraged over the fact that millions of dollars and countless human hours have been spent debating the plight of Elian Gonzalez, while millions of children in the US and around the world don't even have the most basic necessities of life. For a small fraction of the millions spent on the Elian case, hundreds of needy children could have been fed, clothed, and educated. But we guess that wouldn't have satiated the great American hunger for made-for-TV drama.
Stay focused on the TV and you'll find out how the Elian drama ends. Just don't look out the window - you may see a kid just like Alexis. Unlike the kid on TV, you could actually help the one in your neighborhood. But don't bother - just change the channel until you find another expensive, wasteful drama to watch... maybe something on ESPN.
GROWING UP IN PRISON
So you really don't care about Alexis or the millions of other children like her, but you do want to know our opinion on where Elian should grow up? Okay - while we're touched by the romantic notion that a parent must be the best guardian, we wouldn't condemn any child to return to the prison cell that is Cuba.
Most Americans think Elian and his father should return to their native land, but that's only because most Americans know nothing about Cuba. While the world has been focused on the Elian saga, few have noticed that Cuba has once again been censured by the United Nations for human rights abuses. In fact, with the exception of the year 1998, Cuba has been censured for human rights violations every year since 1991.
Would you award custody of a child to a father who was serving time in a US prison? After all, if you can't leave a country freely, how is it really any different from a prison? Cuba is so bad that Elian's mother, like so many others, risked her life to escape. What else do you really need to know?