I'm amused by the goings-on in Florida. A child who lost his mother tragically and unnecessarily has become the subject of an intense political firestorm. Yet people on both sides of the issue declare that they have the best interests of the child at heart.

Cuban Americans are decrying Elian Gonzalez's proposed return to Cuba not because his father is a bad father but because he lives in Cuba under Fidel Castro. They have no problem with the father other than that he lives in a country ruled by someone they hate.

Fidel Castro has done much to impoverish and terrorize his country. If he had the interests of the child at heart he would make sure that everyone in his country had the one thing that is an inherent right to a sentient, living, breathing human--freedom. For if you have everything else but your freedom then you have nothing.

If Elian's father were a bad father, then I would support the child's remaining in the United States. But I find it shameful that his relatives and supporters in the United States have resorted to base bribery in an attempt to win. They don't seem to have the interests of the child at heart any more than Castro does.

It is far past time that the child returns home to his father. And the best thing that both sides can do for Elian is to sit down and shut up.

JAMES KESSLER

St. Michael, Minn.

I am seeing something of a double standard in the behavior of those who oppose returning Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba. For a long time, many in the West (correctly) criticized the former East German government for not allowing the reuniting of families split by the Berlin Wall. Now it appears that the shoe is on the other foot.

Does that mean that I believe that Elian will be freer in Cuba? Of course not. But the past 10 years have proven that communism is a failed system.

Fidel Castro cannot live forever. Someday little Elian will see his own country join the ranks of the free nations of the world.

KEVIN L. JOHNSON

Annapolis

I can't believe the stupidity and crassness of the Republican Party in calling a traumatized 6-year-old boy to testify before Congress ["Hill Committtee Subpoenas Cuban Boy," news story, Jan. 8]--a boy who lost his mother and should legally be sent home to his father. The Republicans need to find another way to pander to the Cuban vote instead of using a poor, defenseless child. This is not a political issue. Who does Rep. Dan Burton think he is to decide for a child he has never even met?

ERICK GRANADOS

Arlington