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. AJ

    One less person living off the tax payers in the U.S.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pixie

    At least he'll have respect from the people around him. In US he would have been beaten or call names or even kill because is different from white citizen. I think he ias much better in is country.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nate

    Damn, that boy's grown up good lookin.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Come on now

    Who cares about this kid?

    April 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Silvia Rodriguez

    Why did Elian's mom give her life for him? It was to give him the freedom of expression and other freedoms that so many Americans take for granted–such as writing these comments. Cubans have no access to the internet because the Cuban government thinks is a threat to their revolution. Right now there is a Jewish American man jailed in Cuba for distributing cell phone and laptops to a small Jewish community there. What about Yoani Sanchez? She is a famous Cuban blogger that has to pretend to be a tourist in order to use the Internet Cafes that are only for tourist. Yoani was awarded the Maria Moore Cabott Award for journalism here in the U.S. She (Yoani) was not allowed to leave to get her award. So for those of you that are so innocent, please educate yourselves of the real Cuba and what it is to live in a totalitarian government. Silvia Rodriguez

    April 6, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fernando

    the cuban government is polishing him to be a poster child for communist cuba, he is growing up to love exactly what thousands of cubans here in the u.s. dispise, I wonder how they all feel today when they see pictures of him in his uniform and in the communist youth meetings.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PA

    Perhaps the US wanted him out because when he was rescued,he kept saying, "The dolphins,the dolphins, they held me up!", it was in the very first footage that was shown, and then not shown again. A 5 year old boy in an inner tube out on the ocean for 10 days with no food and water would never have made it on his own. The fact that another species actually had the intelligence and compassion to assist a child in trouble is beyond what most people can comprehend; it might mean that they are even smarter than we are.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BillC

    One difference – America gave him back to his rightful parent because our laws require that.

    This relativism that "Cuba and the US are both bad" is idiotic. Cuba is a dictatorship that resigns its citizens to poverty and conformity, or else. The day Fidel and his cronies disappear will be the best thing that's happened there in over 50 years.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dave

    There is an opening at my local chipotle that would definately be glad to have him. God forbid he be part of a communist organization that instills and teaches him good moral values.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CheDude420

    He has a much better future in Cuba then his poor American extended family could have ever offered him. Not all kids in Cuba will have it as good as him, and not all kids in america will have it as bad as him. But since the original issue was "where will he grow up better" the answer looks to be Cuba.

    Little guy will probably be an officer soon and work in government later in his life.

    Correction: the peoples republic's government.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AProudCitizen

    Yes, I wonder if he ever thinks of what his mother tried to do and why. He must have.
    Sad that she died, truly.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carol

    We all wish Elian well after the ordeal he went through. He was exploited by the Miami Cuban community and thanks to the wisdom of our great attorney general at the time, Janet Reno, he was allowed to go home to be with his father.. where he belongs.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john

    I had to put up with all the protests and stupidity in miami. I say good. They deserve a slap in the face. What didnt get reported was people who had american flags on their car being threatened. Or that being an excuse for people to be told "have to speak spanish to live in miami".. Good, at least he will get an education and not have his amercian counterparts get unneessary media atteniton. It made me sick

    April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Phidippides

    He's a good-looking kid. I hope life treats him well.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RJ

    He sure has grown into a fine looking young man,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
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