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Judge Rules for Cuban Father

The father of a 5-year-old Cuban girl at the center of an international custody battle did not abandon or neglect her, so he should get her back, a judge ruled Thursday. Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen said she would not immediately return the girl to her father, Cuban farmer Rafael Izquierdo, who wants to take her back to Cuba.

The girl went into foster care after her mother brought her to the U.S. in 2005 and then attempted suicide days before Christmas. She has been living with foster parents in Miami for the past 18 months and they want to keep the girl here.675-92707newcubadadhighlightprod_affiliate56.jpg

The Florida Department of Children & Families said Izquierdo abandoned the girl and officials want the girl to stay with her foster parents, Joe and Maria Cubas, a wealthy Cuban-American couple. The state’s attorneys said removing the girl after such a long time would cause her serious emotional trauma.

Cohen said she would hold a follow-up hearing to listen to the state’s arguments, but urged the department to “take the blindfold off and see the forest for the trees.”

“The court cannot deny Izquierdo custody of his child,” Cohen said

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