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12/08/13 - Daily Mail (London) - 'I would have suffered in the United States'

Cuban boy at center of bitter custody battle across the sea speaks out

'I would have suffered in the United States': Cuban boy at center of bitter
custody battle across the sea speaks out

* Elian Gonzalez was returned to Cuba at age 6 after a tragic attempt to
get to the U.S. * He had not left Cuba since then until now; he is going to
Ecuador for a youth conference * 'Fidel Castro for me is like a father,'
Gonzalez said in a recent interview

 Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who survived a perilous raft journey that
killed his mother and became a symbol of troubled relations between the
United States and Cuba has left the country for the first time since he was
a little boy.

Gonzalez who turned 20 on Friday  traveled to Quito, Ecuador, as part of a
200-member Cuban delegation to a week-long youth conference there.

Gonzalez recently said in an interview published in Cuba's state-run media
that his fame continues to follow him in Cuba.

All grown up: Elian Gonzalez, the little boy who was the focus of a bitter
international custody dispute after he was rescued at sea as a child, left
Cuba on Friday for the first time since 2000

[2]Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez: Gonzalez is now studying to
become a military officer. He turned into an international child celebrity
after he was found floating off the Florida coast when he was
five-years-old in November 1999

Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez: Gonzalez is now studying to become
a military officer. He turned into an international child celebrity after
he was found floating off the Florida coast when he was five-years-old in
November 1999

[3]Connections: Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) talks to Cuban shipwreck
survivor Elian Gonzalez. He quickly became caught up in the political
rip-tide of Havana-Miami politics (file photo from 2010)

Connections: Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) talks to Cuban shipwreck
survivor Elian Gonzalez. He quickly became caught up in the political
rip-tide of Havana-Miami politics (file photo from 2010)

'Wherever I go there's always a child, an old woman that comes to me and
wants to meet me,' he said. 'Not because I am famous but because they
suffered with my family.'

'Fidel Castro for me is like a father,'Gonzalez said in the recent
interview. 'I don't profess to have any religion but if I did my God would
be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right
path.'

In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu
website, Elian, said his experience in Miami when he was six 'charged me
for life.'

Speaking in his native Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child - 'the
right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain
in my cultural context' - were violated in the United States.

[4]When he was young: Elian Gonzalez (R), the young castaway at the center
of a dramatic custody battle across the Florida Straits in 2000 was given
personal treatment by Cuban President Fidel Castro

When he was young: Elian Gonzalez (R), the young castaway at the center of
a dramatic custody battle across the Florida Straits in 2000 was given
personal treatment by Cuban President Fidel Castro

[5]Loyalty: 'The right to be with my father, the right to maintain my
nationality and remain in my cultural context' were violated in the United
States

Loyalty: 'The right to be with my father, the right to maintain my
nationality and remain in my cultural context' were violated in the United
States

'Those days were very sad for me, which marked me for life', González said
Monday. 'It never gave me the chance to think of my mother, who died at sea
as a result of the Cuban Adjustment Act,' he said, referring to the 1966
U.S. law that allows any Cuban who reaches the U. S. by any means to be
paroled and given residency.

Havana has called the law 'murderous' and blamed it for encouraging Cubans
to board rickety boats to cross the Florida Straits in the hopes of
reaching the U.S. González said he "suffered the consequences of the act.'

But he emphasized that "our struggle is not against the American people; it
is against their government.' He said. 'From the moment Americans knew of
my case, they took to the streets to call for me to be sent back to my
country.'

Now a military cadet studying industrial engineering, Gonzalez said he
would have suffered had he stayed in the United States.

[6]Fondness: Fidel Castro for me is like a father,'Gonzalez said in the
recent interview. 'I don't profess to have any religion but if I did my God
would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the
right path'

Fondness: Fidel Castro for me is like a father,'Gonzalez said in the recent
interview. 'I don't profess to have any religion but if I did my God would
be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right
path'

[7]The moment: Elian Gonzalez, held by Donato Dalrymple, is taken by U.S.
federal agents from his Miami relatives April 22, 2000. U.S. federal
authorities stormed the Miami house where Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian
Gonzalez was sleeping

The moment: Elian Gonzalez, held by Donato Dalrymple, is taken by U.S.
federal agents from his Miami relatives April 22, 2000. U.S. federal
authorities stormed the Miami house where Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian
Gonzalez was sleeping

He was shy of his sixth birthday on Thanksgiving Day 1999 when a fisherman
found him off the coast of Florida, clinging to an inner tube after his
mother and nine others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach American soil.

He was taken to live with relatives in Miami but his father, Juan Miguel,
who was separated from his mother and had remained on the island, demanded
that the boy be sent back, saying Elian was taken without his consent.

The dispute turned into a headline-grabbing international custody battle
that weighed heavy on the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and
Al Gore.

Fidel Castro threw the weight of the Cuban government behind the case,
mobilizing seven months of massive demonstrations calling for Gonzalez's
repatriation.

As the two sides fought out the high-profile case in court, U.S.
immigration officials decided to put Gonzalez in the custody of his father,
who had come to the United States to argue for Elian's return.

His relatives in Miami refused to go along, and armed federal agents then
raided the home of Gonzalez's uncle and seized the boy.

It was one of the few moments since 1959 when the Cold War rivals agreed on
something: The U.S. legal system ruled that Gonzalez should be returned to
his father. A state celebration was held on the 10th anniversary of his
return to Cuba.

[8]The reunion: Six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez is
carried by a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agent April 22 as
officials charged into the home of the Miami relatives who had refused to
return the 6-year-old to his father

The reunion: Six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez is
carried by a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agent April 22 as
officials charged into the home of the Miami relatives who had refused to
return the 6-year-old to his father



Original Source / Fuente Original:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520298/Cuban-boy-center-bitter-custody-battle-sea-speaks-out.html


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