[News] Judge rules for Cuban father
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 27 14:15:10 EDT 2007
Judge rules for Cuban father
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, AP Hispanic Affairs Writer 15 minutes ago
The father of a 5-year-old Cuban girl at the center of an
international custody battle did not abandon or neglect her, so he
should get her back, a judge ruled Thursday.
Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen said she would not immediately return the
girl to her father, Cuban farmer Rafael Izquierdo, who wants to take
her back to Cuba.
The girl went into foster care after her mother brought her to the
U.S. in 2005 and then attempted suicide days before Christmas. She
has been living with foster parents in Miami for the past 18 months
and they want to keep the girl here.
The Florida Department of Children & Families said Izquierdo
abandoned the girl and officials want the girl to stay with her
foster parents, Joe and Maria Cubas, a wealthy Cuban-American couple.
The girl has bonded with the Cubases and she wants to remain with her
half brother, whom they have adopted, the department said. The
state's attorneys said removing the girl after such a long time would
cause her serious emotional trauma.
Cohen said she would hold a follow-up hearing to listen to the
state's arguments, but urged the department to "take the blindfold
off and see the forest for the trees."
Izquierdo has denied that he abandoned his daughter and has professed
his desire to return with her to Cuba.
"The court cannot deny Izquierdo custody of his child," Cohen said.
At a news conference outside the courthouse, Izquierdo said in
Spanish: "Truth wins."
"I'm asking for what's mine. I want only what's mine," Izquierdo
said. "I'm dying to go home. I want to be with my family, be together."
His lawyer, Ira Kurzban, said he is unaware of any cases in Florida
where a father, after being found to be fit, was denied custody based
on "nebulous" psychological harm the child would suffer from being
separated from her foster parents.
DCF spokeswoman Flora Beal said afterward that "to separate siblings
from each other does have an emotional and psychological effect."
The father, foster parents and mother were all in court as the judge
read her 47-page ruling over several hours. The judge said
Izquierdo's efforts to regain his daughter once she was put in foster
care "were not marginal for a man of his circumstances."
"He has diligently participated in what must seem to him a mysterious
and daunting legal process. While geographically, Cuba is only 90
miles from the United States shores, the two countries are
philosophically and politically worlds apart," Cohen said.
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San Francisco, CA 94110
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