Cuba custody case before US court
A custody battle is being played out in a Miami court for a four-year-old Cuban girl settled with US foster parents.
The girl was taken into custody when her mother attempted suicide after moving to the US. Her father, Rafael Izquierdo, wants her to return to Cuba.
Florida officials argue she should stay with her wealthy foster parents, former baseball agent Joe Cubas and his wife.
The case has evoked memories of the highly publicised custody saga of Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez.
Elian was five years old in November 1999 when he was rescued at sea after a boating accident that killed his mother and other Cubans trying to immigrate illegally to the United States.
Elian's great-uncle in the US fought unsuccessfully to keep the child in Miami despite court rulings. He was eventually seized in a pre-dawn raid by US agents and returned to his father in Cuba.
Florida officials on Monday argued that Joe Cubas and his wife should be allowed to start adoption proceedings for the girl, who has not been named.
They said Mr Izquierdo, a farmer from the central Cuban village of Cabaiguan, had abandoned his child by allowing her to come to the US and was negligent in failing to send financial support.
A lawyer for Mr Izquierdo said he had let his former girlfriend take the girl to the US when she was granted a visa in 2004 because he wanted a better life for his daughter.
He could not have predicted that the girl's mother would attempt suicide, his lawyer argued.
Mr Izquierdo's low earnings relative to US wages and the difficulties of sending money out of Cuba had made it impossible for him to send child support, he added.
The case was set to continue on Tuesday.
Mr Cubas - who controversially allegedly helped several top baseball players leave Cuba in the 1990s - and his wife are also fostering the girl's half-brother and want to adopt him too.