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Mother admits hiding troubles
She ignored bad events when writing to her daughter's father in Cuba, a court is told.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 5, 2007
MIAMI - The mother of a Cuban girl at the center of an international custody dispute testified Tuesday that she sent happy pictures of the girl to her father in Cuba without mentioning that their life was difficult.
The girl's mother, Elena Perez, identified a handful of photos she sent back to Cuba. She said she didn't tell the girl's father about being evicted, a burglary attempt on her house, losing her job or losing government aid. She said she told others but not the girl's father.
Perez's testimony began the second week of the hearings in the case before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri B. Cohen. Her testimony about letters and photos of the girl is important because state officials claim the girl's father, Rafael Izquierdo, abandoned her after she immigrated to the U.S. in 2005.
Steven Weinger, an attorney for the girl's father, said outside of court that the girl's father was misled about the situation of his daughter and her mother.
"He had no way to know, sitting in Cabaiguan, Cuba, that, in fact, she was having a tough time and his daughter was having a tough time," Weinger said.
The girl, her half brother and their mother legally entered the U.S. in 2005, but their mother gave up custody after attempting suicide. The girl's father, a Cuban farmer, now wants his daughter back. State officials favor adoption by her foster parents, a Miami couple who have already adopted her half brother. Her mother has said she wants the girl to go back to her father.
Although the facts are different, the case is drawing comparisons to the custody dispute eight years ago over Elian Gonzalez, who was eventually reunited with his father in Cuba.
"I'm just looking for my daughter to be in her father's arms," Perez said Tuesday.
Weinger spent a large part of the afternoon discussing photos of the girl and her family, some of which were sent to Cuba.
Perez repeated a claim that an attorney who represents the girl's father had asked her to say she sent more photos to Cuba than she really did. The idea was to make it appear they communicated more often than they did, she said. She went through the photos again Tuesday to clarify ones she actually sent and those she didn't. Perez has acknowledged she lied at times during hearings in the hopes of favoring the girl's father in the dispute.