Fatherhood Coalition

Most Mass. dads agree: Elian should be with father

By Tom Mashberg, Boston Herald

April 22, 2000

The anguished pleas of Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of Elian, have struck a keen chord with Bay State dads, who almost unanimously agree that the boy must be returned to his father without regard to Cuba's quality of life.

``If this situation was reversed, you can bet that we would be at war with Cuba by now,'' said Joe Fucci, 66, of Newton, a retired engineer with four children and six grandchildren who is active in the Waltham-based coalition Divorced Fathers for Action and Justice.

``I don't think much of Bill Clinton myself, and I would not want foreigners to judge my relationship with my kids based on who my nation's leader is,'' he said. ``This boy's ties to his dad transcend what we might think of Fidel Castro or any other tyrant.''

It was hard to find Massachusetts fathers who felt otherwise.

``I ache for this poor guy,'' said Steve Mullaney, 47, of Quincy, a laborer and father of five who was passing the day with two sons, 13 and 10, and a daughter, 17 months.

``No one is going to love this child more than this father,'' he added. ``Elian should be with his surviving parent unless they can prove he's unfit, which he obviously isn't. This isn't about politics, it's about right or wrong. The family unit is paramount, not politics. Blood is thicker than mud.''

Added Bob Astrella of Dorchester, a 46-year-old engineer and father of two, ``It's a no-brainer. This kid has no mother right now. Who are these clowns in Miami to say he should be with some aunt? You can't put into words what it's like for fathers not to have their kids around them like this,'' he said. ``It's totally unfair how they are screwing with this kid's head. When the dust settles, and there's no more puppies and Disneyland, he's not going to know who his parents were. He's going to be asking: `Who is my father?' ''

The Fatherhood Coalition, a Milford group, urged Washington to restore Elian to his father. ``Parental rights are recognized across international borders,'' it said. ``After enduring the ultimate trauma of losing his mother, Elian is being further traumatized by being alienated from his father.''

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