Florida Father's Cuba Trip Unsuccessful In Bringing Son To America

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Jon Colombini of Homestead, Florida returned home late Thursday without his 5 year old son, who was taken to Cuba by his mother last month. Colombini vows to fight for custody of his son before the Cuba Supreme Court, which could result in an international custody battle similar to the one fought over Elian Gonzalez.

Colombini told reporters that his son Jonathon was "grinning ear to ear" to see him during his Cuba visit this week, but believes his son would be better off living in America.

"My point is that I want him in the United States. Had he never known it, that'd be one thing. But he knows what it's like to live that life. I want him to know his brother, his uncle and all his family," Colombini said.

After three days of visits with his ex-wife and son, Colombini said the couple had not been able to reconcile their differences. Colombini also said his ex-wife refused to let him see his son away from the house and ruled out overnight visitations. So Colombini traveled 90 minutes every day from downtown Havana to Pinar del Rio, Cuba, where his son and ex-wife now live.

Colombini also said he pressed his case before high-ranking Cuban officials during meetings in Havana.

Last month, Colombini's ex-wife, Arletis Blanco, left the Florida Keys on a fishing boat, along with Jonathon, her infant daughter, and boyfriend. At the time, Florida authorities were investigating allegations that Blanco embezzled $150,000 from her former employer, McKenzie Petroleum.

Cuba's Supreme Court is not an independent body as it is in the United States, according to Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

"It doesn't work the same way there. Those judges are appointed by the Communist Party secretary and they will rule the way Castro tells them," Suchlicki said in an interview with the Miami Herald.

But Colombini and his attorney Michael Berry plan to return to Cuba next month to file their case.

Florida officials have said that getting the boy back to the United States legally could be complicated because the United States does not have an extradition agreement with Cuba.