Senator Says Elian Is Being Drugged

Monday, May 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALEM, N.H. (AP) — A U.S. senator said he believes Elian Gonzalez is being drugged to make him more amenable to returning to Cuba, and called the Maryland compound where Elian is living ``a concentration camp.''

In a speech Sunday, Republican Sen. Bob Smith said the 6-year-old is being ``re-educated'' by Cuban visitors to the compound in preparation for an asylum hearing Thursday.

``They've already found tranquilizer drugs with the doctors. I think you can reasonably assume that on May 11 the little kid is going to come say 'I want to go back to Cuba,''' Smith said.

Elian's pediatrician, Dr. Caridad Ponce de Leon, was with a group of Cubans that flew to the United States on April 27 to spend time with the boy, whose mother drowned during their escape from Cuba in November.

Cuban state television reported that U.S. Customs agents took medicines including tranquilizers from Ponce de Leon upon her arrival. Authorities said Ponce de Leon cannot practice in Maryland and will get the medications back when she leaves.

The drugs included the sedative phenobarbital, anti-bacterial medications and an asthma medication.

Federal authorities said they were part of the doctor's regular medical kit, and they had no information about what she intended to do with them.

In his speech, Smith also said he deplored Elian's living conditions in Maryland.

``Right now, this little boy is in a concentration camp on American soil,'' he said. ``It's surrounded by Communists. He's got his Communist playmates there so they can re-indoctrinate him.''

Smith, who was traveling, did not immediately return telephone calls Monday.