But protracting the saga has been Fidel Castro's strategy all along, and he's reluctant to let go now that it appears to be moving rapidly to its denouement. While his enemies in Miami believed they were confounding the strongman by fighting for Elian to remain in Miami, Castro was quite content to allow the case to drag out and reap the political dividend from the anger the case provoked among ordinary Cubans (many believe this may have been his key reason for delaying the arrival of Juan Miguel Gonzalez in the U.S.). But anger at the Miami exiles and even the U.S. government doesn't necessarily translate into enthusiasm for Castro's antiquated revolution. Now that Elian has been reunited with his father, Havana is hoping to translate the momentum of that campaign into a broad reinvigoration of its collapsed ideology, urging millions to observe an Elian-themed May Day celebration Monday and rededicate themselves to Castro's cause. But just because they support his efforts to reunite father and son doesn't mean Cubans are ready to go marching off into the sunset singing songs celebrating a decaying revolution. Elian may be a boy wonder, but in the long term he's no more likely to revive Castro's political fortunes than he was to reinvigorate those of the Miami exile leadership.
Republican senators may be realizing there's little to be gained by flogging the Elian Gonzalez horse, but that message hasn't got through to Fidel Castro. As GOP legislators Sunday spoke a lot more cautiously than a week ago about the prospects of holding hearings into the Justice Department operation that reunited the boy with his father, the Cuban dictator did his utmost to extract whatever mileage he still can from a saga that had improbably rallied millions of Cubans against his fiercest foes. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch at the weekend postponed hearings into the raid, saying that the DOJ hadn't provided the documents requested by the committee. But given the fact that the government had been given only 24 hours to provide the documents, the decision may suggest wider misgivings in the GOP about the wisdom of proceeding with an inquiry to which polls show a majority of voters are opposed. CNN reports that Senator Hatch had been reluctant to call the hearing requested by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and had agreed to hold a single hearing narrowly focused on whether Attorney General Janet Reno broke the law in ordering the raid on Lazaro Gonzalez's house. "I think we ought to ask the basic questions, try to find out what happened, see if there's any change in the law we should consider and then move on to other issues," Senator Lott said Sunday. "We don't intend to have a long, protracted set of hearings."