LivingTravelElian Gonzalez's story

Elian Gonzalez's story

Elián González, the 6-year-old boy at the center of the international battle for child custody, and the dispute between the US and Cuba, has recently resurfaced in the spotlight, sparking new debates.

Controversial, accidental international political celebrity, Elian González recently resurfaced after nearly two decades, now a young man with opinions that many Miami residents may find surprising.

The events that sparked the Elian Gonzalez story

In 1999, the Miami press and the streets were taken by storm in an international immigration and family custody dispute after Elian’s mother tried to flee Cuba with her young son.

Elian’s parents separated when he was only 3 years old. In an attempt to escape the Cuban regime, his mother Elizabeth Rodríguez fled the country by boat. After engine trouble and drinking water in a storm, the group of 10 ended up in the water. On Thanksgiving, two Florida fishermen rescued Elian from the water, 60 miles north of Miami, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, FL. Elizabeth Rodríguez had lost her life trying to save her son.

The boy joined his relatives in Miami. However, the rejoicing was short-lived and an intense legal battle ensued. Elián González’s cousin, Marisleysis González, and great-uncles Delfín and Lázaro González waited to see that Elián’s mother wanted her son to know.

However, the boy’s father was quick to insist on his son’s return to Cuba. The following days saw political and media riots, armed police raids and chaos on the streets of Miami.

Political turmoil and the INS armed raid

Custody appeals between Miami family members seeking political asylum for Elian and his father, Juan Miguel González, who demanded that he be returned to Cuba, quickly moved to the highest courts.

Complaints were filed with the UN, Circuit Courts, Supreme Courts, and Federal Courts, as did Attorney General Janet Reno and Vice President Al Gore.

Heated voices were raised on both sides, with protests on the streets of Miami. Elian’s relatives in Florida peacefully refused to voluntarily hand over the boy to be taken back to communist Cuba.

A pre-dawn raid involving 130 INS staff members and 8 elite Border Patrol agents armed with submachine guns resulted in the forcible removal of Elian González from his Miami home.

The result in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood included businesses that closed in a boycott, burned tires and police in riot gear using tear gas.

Key dates in Elian Gonzalez’s story:

  • 6 December 1993 XX Elián González was born in Cuba
  • November 25 th, 1999 Elián González was pulled from the water off the coast of Miami
  • November 26 th, 1999 Elián is released into the custody of family members in Miami
  • November 28 1999 XX Juan Miguel Gonzalez complains to UN about the return of his son
  • 9 March XX, 2000, a district judge rejects the request for political asylum
  • 30 March 2000 XX, A Gore is compatible with the new legislation to keep Elian in the US
  • April 3 rd, 2000 The State Department approves a visa for John to reach the US
  • April 7, XX 2000 AG, Janet Reno, establishes the US We will return Elián to his father
  • April 19 2000 XX The 11th Circuit Court granted an appeal to block his return to Cuba
  • April 22 nd, 2000 in a raid before dawn federal agents secured the Elian from his Miami home
  • June 28 th, 2000 Elián González and Juan are returned to Cuba despite ongoing judicial appeals by relatives of Miami

Elian Gonzalez Now

After 14 years out of the spotlight, with the exception of Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s birthday visits, Elian González appeared again in the international media in late 2013.

Recent interview accounts with Elian demonstrate significant media disparity, and for many, perhaps a very unexpected result.

According to the Huffington Post coverage, Elian says he has deliberately avoided media attention. In his first trip outside Cuba since the Elian event spoke at the 23rd World Festival of Youth and Students in Ecuador in late 2013.

According to E News, Elian González said of the custody battle events “It hasn’t affected me.” However, the Miami Herald’s coverage paints a rather different picture, citing Elian as guilty of the Cuban Adjustment Act, and the Americans for the death of his mother, and the 1966 ‘Wet feet, dry feet’ law for Cubans risking their lives in search of safety and freedom. Describing the law as “murderous,” Elian emphasized his nation’s struggle against the US government and the people who asked to be sent back to Cuba.

It’s unclear what’s next in the Elián González saga, although many hope his celebrity status will captivate him, at such a young age it positions him to become an influential and high-profile political figure in the future.

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