by Kay Loftfield
I cannot ignore the letter by Marilynn Leisch in the April 28 edition of the Payson Roundup, in which she insults the "uninformed" people who answered a question asked by an "irresponsible" journalist in the Street Talk column of the April 25th Roundup because she apparently did not agree with the answers that were given.
I personally enjoy hearing the views of my fellow Paysonites in these question-and-answer situations. I like to hear all sides of a question and make an "informed"opinion of my own.
The question in this particular issue was: "Do you think Attorney General Janet Reno acted in the best interests of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban shipwreck survivor, when she had U.S. agents take him at gunpoint from the home of his Miami relatives?"
I read the answers given by these four citizens and found their opinions to be thoughtful and honestly given. They have the right to express those opinions whether or not anyone else agrees or disagrees with them, just as Ms. Leisch and I have the right to express our opinions.
I will have to defend the actions of my government in this case, even if I haven't always seen eye to eye with our leaders. According to Jim Goldman, Immigration and Naturalization Service commander in charge of Elian's rescue, the Federal Bureau of Investigation carefully surveyed the situation that agents would face in the Gonzalez family's neighborhood when they entered the home to remove Elian.
The law was on their side, since Lazaro Gonzalez had publicly said he would not surrender Elian, even after his temporary custody time had expired, and U.S. officials had ordered him to turn the boy over to them. Lazaro Gonzalez openly broke the law when he refused to do as they ordered, and he and his friends stated that they would obstruct any efforts to take the boy.
Since peaceful negations were going nowhere, agents had no choice but to go in and forcefully remove Elian from the home where he was being held unlawfully. They did not know if there would be armed resistance or not. They could not take any chances of someone being injured or killed.
INS agents and Attorney General Janet Reno bent over backward to take care of this situation. If anyone wants to place blame, place it on Lazaro Gonzalez, who, because of his obstruction of justice and law breaking, has cost the citizens of Florida a whopping $1 million.
As of April 24, the U. S. government had paid out $578,000 in connection with this issue, and it won't stop there. Since this is an election year, no politician in his right mind is going to lose votes by deciding anything right now.
Lazaro Gonzalez claims he came here to live in freedom, but he's turned it into a free lunch for himself and his buddies. We're having to pay for all this while he, a lawbreaker, is swaggering around and defying our government to touch him.
It's a good thing I'm not in Janet Reno's shoes, because I'm for putting Lazaro and all those protesters on a big, slow boat to China. If they can't obey the laws of the country that took them in when they fled Castro, they don't deserve to stay.
For me, the photos of Elian and his father, with their eyes glowing as they hugged, is enough for me. Elian was the beneficiary of both his mother and father's loving care for more than five years before he ever saw his Miami relatives.
Good luck, Elian, you are where you belong. You stuck it out floating for two days on that wide old ocean. Don't give up now. Castro can't last forever.
And one last thing, The Payson Roundup -- with its journalists and staff -- was recently declared the best little old newspaper in the U.S.