Cuba Politics

Elian Gonzalez affair shows up in mayor race

Posted September 12, 2004 by Dana Garrett in Cuba Politics.

Elian Gonzalez was sent back to Cuba four years ago, but the young castaway remains a powerful figure in Miami-Dade politics.
Former Miami-Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez, now running for county mayor in Tuesday’s election, knows that well. At least one flier from an untraceable source is attacking Alvarez for comments he made on the case last month at a Herald editorial board meeting.

In the meeting, Alvarez criticized Mayor Alex Penelas’ leadership during the crisis over Elian and said he made it clear to then-County Manager Merrit Stierheim that as police chief, he would uphold the U.S. Constitution rather than challenge federal authorities. Alvarez never said how he personally felt about the policy decisions being made by others.

A Spanish-language mailing to Cuban voters—attributed to the common name ‘‘Jose Martinez’’—quotes the comments and questions Alvarez’s loyalty to the Cuban-American community.

Alvarez, a Cuban American, said Friday that he had a job to do as police chief, regardless of his personal opinions. He said he was widely praised for his handling of the case. But he won’t say whether he believes the boy should have been sent back.

‘‘That’s just adding fuel to the fire when there’s thousands of these damn fliers going around Dade County,’’ Alvarez said. “Instead of having four [versions of] fliers, I’ll have 16 fliers.’’


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