April 6th, 2010
08:27 PM ET

Cuba releases photos of 16-year-old Elian Gonzalez

Cuba has published photos of Elian Gonzalez, the boy who sparked a political battle with the U.S. in 2000, attending a gathering of the Union of Communist Youth.

Gonzalez, 16, appears in the olive-green uniform of the military school he attends, waving a Cuban flag, in photos posted on an official Cuban Web site, Cubadebate.cu.

Gonzalez was picked up in an inner tube off the coast of Florida when he was 5 years old. His mother drowned trying to reach the U.S. on a raft, and a bitter custody battle ensued between his father in Cuba and relatives in South Florida.

Fidel Castro, then Cuba’s leader, led massive marches demanding his return, and when the boy finally did fly back to Cuba, he was received as a hero.

The photos were taken during the annual meeting of the Union of Communist Youth held over the weekend; Gonzalez joined in 2008. The headline over the photos reads: “Elian Gonzalez, a look 10 years later.”

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Filed under: Cuba • World
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Freebirdx6

    What???? You don't know anything about Cuba! Educate yourself to what’s happening there. There is no education or free health! We are, or were (thank God I'm living in the best country on Earth now) slaves, no future at all and we pay for all those "free" things with our lives and lack of freedom. Cuba is not a third world Country; it hasn’t made it that high. That picture of Elian shows how cynic the government is. He has no other option or party to be a part of. What you see in that photo is his only option. Any other choice would make you a prisoner. Like the thousands of prisoner’s of conscience that are in the island now. No one loved Elian more than his mother and she knew what Cuba was, that’s why she wanted a future for her son. If you don't know the real reason why that insane criminal Castro brought Elian back you better get it from an insider. The grass is always greener on the other side but I have to tell you that neither Canada nor Australia are better places than USA. This is still a land of opportunities and future. I used to live in Canada and I advanced more in 2 months living in the US than in a whole year in Canada!

    April 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Bridget

    I heart Elian.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. unknown

    This could be who is going to take Fidel Castro's place when he and his brother die... and no, over there, health and education are not better... you have to live in Cuba to know what they go through on a daily basis... 5lbs of rice, 1 egg, 1 lb of chicken and 1 lb of yuca to feed an entire family for one month, the pharmacies are under stocked, no access to the internet unless you're a tourist, they give you free education but you have to work for the government, and don't you dare say anything bad about their regime or you will end up in jail or dead. You tell me if he was better off going back or staying here.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Roy

    All I can say is that, commie or not, he looks like a million bucks.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Kelly

    If Elian wanted to learn about communism, he probably should've stayed in this country.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dave

    What's even more interesting... That episode cost Al Gore the presidency. By siding with the father, he alienated well over 950 Cuban Americans who voted for G W Bush, and gave him the margin of victory in Florida... The rest is history.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Damian Dees

    We as Americans hold ourselves up to the world as beacons of freedom and tolerance and criticize other countries such as Cuba, and Iran.When in fact, we are a nation of hypocrites. Americans thrreaten other Americans who hold different political opinions with physical violence and vile forms of verbal harassment.Reference the healthcare debate. We disllike and react negatively to other Americans that are not "Christians". We still celebrate the era of slavery in states such as Georgia, and Virgiinia,. There is a rise in "homegrown" terrorists groups such militias and other extremisit organizations. There is rampant discrimination and hatred gainst gays and minorities. We only like other Americans that look like us, talk like us, share our values, and believe in the national religion. Simply put, we do not practice what we preach. Until we become a more tolerant nation, we should refrain from criticizing others..

    April 6, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Caroll

    If we return to small government, personal responsibility, respect for the Constitution and Life, which is what the Founding Fathers gave us, we could be a great nation again. But Big Government and Corruption must stop. The destruction of our country has been going on for over 100 years. It has been a subtle change over time that was barely discernible and always changed because Big Government "knew what is best for our country." Only it is NOT better. The only reason the country is in such an upheaval now is because everything is moving at warp speed and the People have become alarmed. If there is anything good about the present administration, it is the fact that the overreaching has awakened the People to the fact that our country is and has been hijacked by the Progressives. The antidote?...the VOTE!

    April 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Edgardo Alexander

    What is wrong with these people ? Who in the blue sky told them that Communism and Socialism are models to follow or imitate ? There is only one that is for real, that is Capitalism. Now, for those who wrote that Canada and Australia are places to go and live are quite right, but we must not forget that is America the land of the free and the home of the brave, and it is America the one in ruling and establishing the stipulations, laws, precepts given to it by the LORD GOD Almighty. There is so much more information I can share with all of you that it will take me so long to provide to you.

    It goes like:

    America, Britain, Israel

    Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah, Benjamin, Levi

    The House of Israel & The House of Judah

    The Kingdom of Israel & The Kingdom of Judah

    The House of Joseph & The House of Judah

    May the love of GOD, the grace of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the fellowship of the HOLY SPIRIT prosper and bless you forever !

    April 6, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. BRAD

    to 3.

    he tried to come here thats why we got involved -.-

    April 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jorge rodriguez

    For those of you that comment about free health care in Cuba and how terrible things are in the U.S. I have this to say.. How come everybody in Cuba wants to leave and no one here is leaving? Cuba as well as North Korea ,have free heatlh care. But somehow the word "free" has a very different meaning than what we are used to here. Free means you dont pay and you are free to move about and speak your mind. In these totalitarian governments of Cuba and Korea they own you, mind and body. They keep you alive so you can serve the only enterprise around, which is the government, which owns everything. You dont believe me, go to any of these countries, with no american dollars just live there for a year as a regular citizen. You will be crying like a baby in 1 week.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. islego

    Have any of you ever been to Cuba? Have you ever heard of any Americans trying to sneak into Cuba on rafts or inner tubes? Don't you wonder why his mother thought it was a good idea, even one that cost her her life, to get on a raft and try to make it to the U.S.? Socialism in Cuba, as it does in so many places, has created a nightmare that traps people, especially the young adults, in a culture that stifles dreams, dulls creativity, and punishes independent thought. The U.S. has some soul-searching to do and some radical changes needed but it is also a country where such things can take place freely and openly.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Frank

    Health care in Cuba is a disaster, looks like John took a big gulp of Michael Moore Kool AId. Ask yourself why people risk life and limb to get out of Cuba.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mark

    Zbob – Actually, none of those countries will let anyone IN to enjoy all those awesome systems. Instead the US has taken in every loser from every nation in the world to try to better themselves and in the end took everything down with it. Maybe we should put up the steel curtain again and allow 20 visas a year like AU/CA?

    April 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Nate

    I doubt if this kid got in a fight in school, he would be taken to court for attempted murder. Good thing he was allowed to be raised in Cuba.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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