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Elian Gonzalez

Elian GonzalezBorn: 6-Dec-1993
Birthplace: Cárdenas, Cuba

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Occupation: Victim

Nationality: Cuba
Executive summary: Cuban boy tug-o-war

On the 22nd of November 1999, Elian Gonzalez set sail from Cárdenas on the north coast of Cuba with his mother Elizabet. Bound for the US, the dangerously overloaded 16 foot boat capsized and sank the following day, drowning his mother and leaving Elian adrift in the Florida Straits with only an inner tube and some friendly dolphins to rely on. Rescued on Thanksgiving Day by two fishermen who turned him over to the Coast Guard, Elian was briefly hospitalized then released into the custody of his great uncle Lazaro; however, his father, Juan Miguel, was still alive, and demanded his son be repatriated.

INS officials quickly determined that the boy should be returned to Cuba to live with his father, but his Miami relatives initiated court proceedings to keep him in the US. Had Elian been from anywhere but Cuba, the matter would have been resolved quickly and quietly. As it was, the affair devolved into a seven month long media circus, capturing the nation's attention, and even presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush threw their hats in the ring. Finally, with the boy's exiled family refusing to give him up, the INS staged a raid in the early morning hours of 22 April 2000, and removed the child at gunpoint from the custody of his uncle. Two months later he returned to Cuba with his father.

Elian was something of a symbol of national unity upon his homecoming. Fidel Castro attended his birthday party, which has become an annual local celebration. Juan Miguel found his newly won recognition transformed into a seat in Cuba's National Assembly, and the father and son often found themselves as guests of honor at important political rallies. On the tenth anniversary of his return Elian attended a state dinner where he spoke to foreign reporters for the first time in years. With Cuban president Raúl Castro on one shoulder and his father on the other, he forgave his extended family for trying to keep him in the United States. Currently he is studying to become an officer at a military academy in Matanzas.

Father: Juan Miguel González
Mother: Elizabet Brotons (d. Nov-1999)

    High School: Camilo Cienfuegos Military Academy, Matanzas, Cuba

    Deported from the United States to Cuba (28-Jun-2000)
    Communist Party
    Cuban Ancestry

    Fidel (2-Aug-2001) · Himself

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 1-May-2000, DETAILS: "Papá!"

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