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. John

    At least he has the benefit of an education and health care that are far better than what would have been available to him if he'd stayed in the USA.

    April 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • glenn

      What ever happened to that swing set and football he used to play with. Does the family here still have it or did they send it to Cuba too?

      April 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Worker Joe

    It was right that the father was granted custody of his son. That was the proper court decision. It's too bad that he's grown up being taught that communism is the best economic and political system.
    Hopefully he will learn of the reasons his courageous mother had in trying to get him to this country.

    April 6, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NSR

    They just should have let him join a gang here and been done with it.

    April 6, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Quincy

    Hell, he was much better off going to Cuba. If he'd have wound up staying in the US, he'd have enjoyed seeing over a decade of pure White House and Washington DC embarrassment from the 2000 Elections mess where the guy who didn't get the most votes won anyway, right on through to the mythical WMDs, on to the current situation with the GOP being apparently headed up by a cocktail waitress who probably thinks the Tea Party group she's all over the jocks of are some sort of Revolutionary War re-enactment group. Elian has no idea how lucky he truly is. Democracy versus Communism? You make the call.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Winnie Sarmiento

    As a parent, I always believed that returning 5 year old Elian to his father was the right thing to do.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JLen

    Good to see him looking well. He should be proud of his country and his culture just like Americans are proud of their own country and culture. He looks great!

    April 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maria Brito

    God Bless you Elian ..Happy to see you are happy and healthy !! You are here for a reason ..Just keep on moving forward ..

    April 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Enitan

    Thank God, he is better off with his father in Cuba than been in America the so called land of plenty, where we the American tax payer will have probably ended up paying for his expensive health care food and shelter.

    Good luck to you Elian, you a very lucky kid, because you are better off where you are.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Travis

    This kid will be treated like royalty in Cuba for years to come, if not for the rest of his life – not because he's in some socialist paradise where everyone is happy and content, but because he's a symbol of a small triumph for a nation that has effectively become isolated from the world. Had he not become a media darling ten years ago, he would be one of three places: 1) quietly assimilated into Miami's Cuban immigrant community, 2) living anonymously in Cuba, or 3) digesting in the belly of a shark somewhere in the Caribbean. When CNN does their report in another ten years to see what the 26-year old Elian Gonzalez is up to, Castro will be dead, but the still-Communist government will want to have a smiling young man in front of the cameras to show the rest of the world that Communism still works – at least for the upper 1% of the population, as does American capitalism.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Teufelhund

    Uh Nate, if you didn't notice, we got involved because HE CAME HERE. It's not like we abducted him from Cuba.

    I must admit that I'm impressed with Cuban education, but their healthcare leaves something to be desired. Doctors are insanely underpayed and they suffer with poor facilities, poor equiptment and a scarcity of drugs. What do you think it says that there is a thriving medical black market in Cuba. That's not a sign of a working system.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. deltaxsi

    Interesting case. His mother's dying wish was that her son be raised in America. Kind of like a woman dying while trying to hurl her child across the old Berlin Wall. His only surviving parent had a different opinion, and contradicted what the other parent gave up her life for.

    I'm not not sure what lessons we've learned here yet. I'm not sure we will for another 15 years or so.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cubanaalfin

    Are any of you cuban? Do you know how bad Cuba is? At least here he would have a free choice, and a free life. In cuba he was forced to join The Young Communists, and brainwashed to be a communist. I hope that he wakes up one day and realizes tht communism is not right. He will, one day, and come back to Miami. He is such a cutie and such a shame he wasnt able to live a free life. Being communist was chosen for him. :/

    April 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jacob H

    He's still a tool of the communist advertising agencies.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chip

    If our country is so bad, let me see you get on a boat to Cuba and get this infamous education and health care found there! Give me a break. Speaking of, don't you see the thousands of people eagerly comiing to the UNITED STATES every year to seek a more promising future here. They truely know what exist outside our borders and until you've lived in another country you cannot appreciate what is right in "front of your nose". Been there, done that. Elian will be drawn to these shores, to know what his mother gave her life for, the call of freedom.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Puablo

    I wonder if he's had special treatment by the Cuban government over the past 10 years, At this point we'll never know if he's going to be used as a propaganda tool or not.

    April 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
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