For more than 40 years, the people of Cuba have heroically and steadfastly resisted the United States continuous and systematic aggression.

The economic warfare that the U.S. government has waged against our country since 1959 has been consistently intensified with the deliberate purpose of causing disease, hardships and suffering. Washington jeopardizes travel and normal communications between the two countries and harshly punishes its own citizens when they violate its strict prohibitions, while grossly and underhandedly manipulating migration-related issues.

From January 1, 1959, the United States has welcomed with open arms the henchmen, torturers, thieves and embezzlers of the Batista dictatorship, and the exploiters whose privileges were affected by the revolutionary measures adopted on the peopleís behalf. It has incited doctors and other professional and technical workers to desert their country with the goal of depriving it of highly trained personnel. It has unleashed an insidious campaign of lies that reached its most repugnant height with the so-called Operation Peter Pan, which uprooted over 14,000 children from their homes. It has automatically admitted all Cubans who reached U.S. territory without fulfilling any immigration procedures whatsoever, including those who have arrived after the use of violence, the hijacking of boats, and even murder. Such a policy was consecrated in the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, a rule which applies only to Cubans and whose scope has now been irresponsibly extended in clear contradiction and violation of the migration agreements signed with Cuba.

The kidnapping of young Elián González is the worst and most abominable expression of this policy.

Within a few hours, an entire month will have passed since the tragic sinking of the vessel on which Elián was being taken to the United States, without his fatherís permission. It was yet another case of the illegal trafficking in humans stimulated by the systematic promotion of illegal emigration carried out by the radio stations that broadcast over 200 hours of daily programming to our country, with official backing or sponsorship. It is mostly the aforementioned Act and the complicit tolerance of the United States towards the immoral business of alien smuggling that keep encouraging such actions.

Initially, the U.S. government attempted to hypocritically "wash its hands" off the matter, declaring the arbitrary admission of Elián to be in accordance with the infamous Adjustment Act, completely disregarding the childís father exclusive authority, his obvious status as a minor and the clear standards of international law and the laws in effect both in Cuba and the United States itself.

Meanwhile, the child was handed over to a mob of unscrupulous opportunists and politickers who have kept him in captivity in a strange environment, cruelly separated him from his father, his grandparents, his neighbors, his friends, his school and his natural surroundings, precisely at the time when he most urgently needs them, after suffering the severe trauma of his motherís death and the accident at sea. He has been subjected to coercion and mental and psychological pressure that clearly constitute cruel and inhuman treatment, in violation of his personal integrity.

Far from acting with the necessary urgency to return the child to the side of his father and maternal and paternal grandparents, through the expedite procedures established for these cases, the U.S. authorities have delayed the rectification of the legal and human aberration committed and allowed time to continue passing without the slightest consideration for the suffering of the child and his family, nor for the grave consequences the situation could entail for the health, well-being and personal integrity of someone who has just entered his sixth year of life.

A great many specialists throughout the world, including respected American doctors, psychologists and experts concur that as more time passes, in addition to the trauma of the accident itself, the stress of being in strange surroundings and the submission to the additional harmful element of manipulation and superficial dazzle aimed at modifying the childís habits and emotions could cause profound psychological wounds.

Despite their understandable indignation and as proof of their eagerness to have the child returned to them, Eliánís family has complied with all the procedures required by the U.S. immigration authorities. The truth must be said, that those same authorities undertook no steps whatsoever to confirm family ties before placing the child in the home of distant relatives who have lived in the United States for over 15 years, that is, long before Elián was born. Therefore, they have no bonds of affection with the child, which has been further demonstrated by the shameless manipulation they have subjected him to.

It is the United States unavoidable obligation to immediately return this child to the family home from which he was illegally taken. The top leading U.S. authorities, in an apparent attempt to make up for the evident initial mishandling of the case, announced over ten days ago that the child is under the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. That Service, the very same one that has allowed a group of unscrupulous individuals to deprive the child of his privacy and to shamelessly exploit him like a helpless victim, received directly from Elián´s father all of the documentation needed and a considerable amount of additional evidence to allow them to meet their alleged requirements to be able to do what they should have done from the very first day.

How much longer shall we have to wait? What else is still needed to put an end to the suffering that child, his father and his grandparents have been subjected to for almost an entire month? What is it that the American nation and its noble people, the hundreds of millions of U.S. citizens who believe in the family, in responsible fatherhood and the protection of the rights of children stand to gain by this unacceptable delay?

A government that considers itself responsible cannot allow its actions to become hostages of the outrageous pressures of a terrorist mob or of corrupt and erratic demagogues.

The National Assembly of Peopleís Power of the Republic of Cuba demands an end, once and for all, to the kidnapping of young Elián González, and calls on all parliaments, governments, political parties, non-governmental, religious and social organizations, and people of good will throughout the entire world, to demand that the U.S. government set this six-year-old boy free and allow him to return to his father, his home, his homeland. Likewise, it particularly addresses the Secretary General of the United Nations, the chairman of the UN General Assembly and the Director General of UNICEF urging them to call on Washington to immediately return Elián, in compliance with its international obligations.

The National Assembly of Peopleís Power calls on all the people of Cuba to step up the struggle to free Elián González, a child martyr, a child who is a symbol of his dignified and heroic homeland, which will not rest until he is set free. May your voices rise up everywhere, in every corner of our nation, in the unanimous demand made by men and women, children, young people and the elderly, in a strong and sustained protest by all Cubans, which will not relent until this crime is stopped.

Issued in the City of Havana, at the International Conference Center, during the sessions of the National Assembly of Peopleís Power, on December 20, 1999, Year of the Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution.