The day after the grandmothers’ meeting with Elián, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington sent the following report, whose full text appears in Granma daily.
"Throughout the morning of January 26, arduous negotiations were held with the U.S. authorities to ensure respect for the terms agreed upon with the grandmothers for their meeting with Elián. Particularly emphasized was Mariela’s and Raquel’s request that none of the members of the family responsible for the abduction be present in the house where the meeting would take place, and that there be no physical or visual contact between these individuals and the grandmothers. It was also requested that the length of the meeting be a minimum of two hours. Likewise, a request was submitted for the representatives of the National Council of Churches in both the United States and Cuba to be present in an adjoining room, in order to provide emotional support to the grandmothers, should they need it. There was also further insistence on permission for the grandmothers to be accompanied on their trip by an official from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, who could assist them with communications.
"At the end of these negotiations, the U.S. side responded by accepting the grandmothers’ first three requests, but limiting the participation of our Interests Section official to remaining in the Opalocka Airport.
"Later, changes began to be made. Before leaving Washington, the grandmothers were informed that the representatives of the National Council of Churches would not be in the same building but in an adjacent facility and that a telephone line with direct access to Cuba would be made available to them. Another telephone would be installed for the Interests Section official at the airport room where she would be waiting.
"Minutes before the plane took off for Miami, while still on the runway, we learned through a telephone call from the State Department that there had been a further change with regard to the assurances, so essential to the grandmothers, that the kidnappers not be allowed to enter or remain in the house where the meeting was to take place. According to the call, this requirement could not be ensured, and this delayed take-off for more than an hour.
"At 1:06 p.m. on January 26, grandmothers Mariela and Raquel took off for Miami to visit with their grandson Elián González, despite the fact that at the time of departure the kidnappers still persisted in their maneuvers to boycott and obstruct the visit.
"Upon arrival in Miami, it was confirmed that those holding Elián refused to accept the conditions demanded by the grandmothers from the very beginning: that the meeting take place in a neutral location, and that the kidnappers not be present.
"At the Opalocka Airport, an INS official in charge of the organization and coordination of the visit informed them of the measures that would be adopted inside the house to ensure that the grandmothers and the child did not come into contact with the kidnappers. On that occasion, the grandmothers were assured of the following:
"But, what happened? All of the aforementioned assurances, without exception, were unfulfilled, not to mention the failed commitment to supply the direct telephones promised. Reverends Joan Brown Campbell and Odén Marichal were not allowed to remain in the house, while access was in fact given to the kidnappers. Contrary to all the terms agreed upon, the latter were not only allowed into the house where the meeting was held but it was also one of them who led the child to where his grandmothers awaited him, in violation of the agreement that the nuns would turn the child over to prevent contact with the kidnappers.
"In addition to members of the family from the house where the child is being held captive, the family lawyers and the main leaders of counterrevolutionary groups were allowed into the building. When we protested to the State Department over the presence of Jorge Más Santos, they officially responded that Mr. Más Santos was ‘the González family chauffeur.’
"Once the grandmothers’ visit with the child had begun, the privacy of their reunion was repeatedly interrupted, on one occasion by the head of the nuns who, accompanied by a police officer, ordered the seizure of the cell phone on which Elián and his father in Cuba were having their first conversation in 67 days in the absence of the child’s captors. To sustain that the use of cell phones was not part of the agreements reached, a matter about which we were never informed, they argued that a similar telephone had earlier been seized from one of the kidnappers when he was planning to call Miami radio stations. This, of course, kept absolutely no relation or similarity to the grandmothers just and humane desire for the child to communicate with his father and the rest of the family while he was with them.
"The CNN television network also confirmed that the house next to that where the meeting was being held was occupied by the CANF. A security officer confirmed this to Reverend Marichal when he complained about being filmed from the house next door.
"While the visit was underway, a boat belonging to counterrevolutionary Ramón Saúl Sánchez freely entered the Indian River canal running behind the house, carrying posters and attempting to draw the grandmothers attention in the room where they were visiting with Elián.
"Another violation of the terms agreed was the verbal abuse from counterrevolutionary Armando Gutiérrez, the so-called spokesman of the kidnappers, who insulted and threatened Reverend Marichal.
"There was also a small counterrevolutionary demonstration involving approximately 70 people, loudly expressing an aggressive and hostile stance against our country, on the street leading to the entrance of the house where the meeting was taking place, despite the assurances given that the entire area would be closed to all traffic, even pedestrians.
"The last on the list of successive violations was the fact that before two hours had passed since the beginning of the visit, the university president nun abruptly entered the meeting room telling the grandmothers that they had to say good-bye to Elián, that the meeting had ended, even though the agreement established that there would be no time limits, and that the minimum duration would be two hours."
The significance of this report is that
it relates, one by one, the 11 concrete points, or rather, everything agreed
upon, and the way the U.S. side failed to observe every single one of them.
There are many other facts, some of which were published in Granma yesterday,
that were reported over the telephone to the family in Cuba by the grandmothers
themselves and other participants who traveled with them and have contributed
their own testimony as to what they witnessed.
Editorial published in Granma daily on January 29, 2000.