MIAMI -- The U.S. relatives of Elian Gonzalez lashed out at immigration authorities today, saying they had not signed an agreement demanded by the government to promise to surrender the 6-year-old if they lose their court fight to keep him out of Cuba.
Lawyers and a spokesman for the family were clearly frustrated when they emerged today from a 9 a.m. meeting with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and said no agreement had been signed.
''I don't know what else they want from the Lazaro Gonzalez family,'' family spokesman Armando Gutierrez said. ''They (INS officials) are following orders either from Clinton's lawyers or Fidel, and they need to answer to the community and to the world. They are the ones who put this kid in Lazaro's home, and they just want him to sign a blanket statement, which is not the American way.''
The INS had said Elian's temporary permission to stay in the United States would end at 9 a.m. Thursday unless the family provides a written guarantee to give him up. Officials did not immediately respond to the family's comments.
In the back yard of the home where Elian is staying, attorneys for the family met with Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's great-uncle, after the attorneys met with INS officials. Lazaro Gonzalez became visibly upset as he spoke with the attorneys, covering his face with his hands and then gesturing angrily. Elian played on a swingset nearby.
The agency, which made the demand in a letter delivered to family attorneys late Monday, said the commitment is required by law as a condition of the ''parole'' that allows Elian to remain in the United States under the care of his great-uncle.
The U.S. relatives want the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to overturn a federal judge's ruling affirming an INS decision to return Elian to Cuba. The court has scheduled oral arguments for the week of May 8, which could complicate any steps by the government.
Earlier, Linda Osberg-Braun, an attorney for the relatives, insisted the family has complied with government demands and would continue to obey the law.
''We believe we're in compliance,'' she said. ''We want assurances from the INS. We fear them revoking Elian's parole, tearing him from his family and returning him to Cuba.''
The child has been the subject of an international custody dispute since November, when he was rescued by fishermen who found him lashed to an innertube off the Florida coast. His mother and 10 others died when their boat sank during the journey from Cuba to the United States.
Elian's Miami relatives say they can give him a better life than he would have in communist Cuba. The Justice Department says he belongs with his father in Cuba.
Government officials have said they would not want to do anything to traumatize the boy. The INS also does not wish to provoke Miami's large Cuban community.
Many of the protesters outside Elian's home responded to a call by the anti-Castro Democracy Movement to be prepared to form a human chain around the home if the government tries to remove the child. A 15-foot banner in front of the house with a drawing of Elian carries the message: ''I just want to live in freedom.''
Olga Scott, 50, came from Houston to join the protest. ''Over our dead bodies, they will not take him,'' she said.
''There are a lot of people who aren't willing to kill but are willing to die only for the child's rights,'' added Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the Democracy Movement.
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