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12/11/13 - CNN TV - Elian Gonzalez criticizes US policies against Cuba 

(CNN) - It's been 14 years since Elian Gonzalez's name first made headlines
around the world.

When he was a 6-year-old boy, Gonzalez miraculously survived a shipwreck
leaving Cuba only to find himself in the middle of a bitter international
custody battle.

Now that boy is a 20-year-old man, who says he isn't scarred by his
mother's death at sea by boat or the fight over him that ripped his family

"I haven't had any long-lasting psychological trauma. It hasn't affected
me, but it has been hard on my family because those were difficult
moments," Gonzales said.

"But in spite of everything, I'm in Cuba and that's great because it has
been 15 wonderful years in which I have experienced great growth, without
precedents, as a Cuban revolutionary youth espousing the cause."

Gonzalez spoke to CNN en Espanol in Ecuador where he is part of an official
Cuban delegation to a youth conference.

It is his first trip abroad since the U.S. government removed him at
gunpoint from his relative's home in Miami and, following the legal battle,
sent him back to Cuba to live with his father.

For Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Gonzalez's return was a massive public
relations victory over his enemies in the Cuban exile community.

During the showdown, Fidel Castro promised that if Gonzales was sent back
to Cuba, he would not become a propaganda tool for the Cuban government."

Despite those assurances, Gonzalez's life was anything but normal.

His 7th birthday party was attended by Fidel Castro. His father Juan Miguel
went from being a waiter to a member of the country's national assembly.

Bodyguards protect Gonzalez at all times.

Now Gonzalez studies engineering at a military school in Cuba and appears
to be emerging as a new spokesman for the Cuban government.

"The message for me is that many others have died while trying to reach
American soil, but it is because of the American government itself that,
with an unfair blockade, causes a critical economic situation inside of
Cuba," Gonzales said.

Gonzalez's Miami relatives said they tried to keep him from returning to
Cuba to prevent him from being brainwashed by Fidel Castro.

But in a recent interview Gonzalez said the Cuban leader saved his life and
that to him, Fidel Castro is his "God."

Copyright 2013 CNN. All rights reserved.

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