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. Judith

    I agree. He's with his dad, the most important family member he rightfully should be with, since his mom passed. Regardless of the fact that Cuba is a communist country, his right to be with that most important person who will give him "secured love" whereby he has been nurtured and emotionally developed by thus far, speaks for itself. Love conquers all despite political position, passion and being politically correct. You can be poor, but love gives you comfort. His father loves him. Hey, he acquired international attention...good for him! His father wasn't abusing him, so why wouldn;t his father be good enough for him to raise. Rich or poor, it would've impeded longterm emotional damage, being without one of the parents, since he had already suffrered lost from his mom and the entire situation.

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

    A handsome young man. I hope he has a good life. It was the right thing to return him to his father.

    April 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kyle

    I bet that kid is so brainwashed by now

    April 7, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Juan

    I agree with John.. I don't think his future in the US would've been as bright..

    April 7, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. JAK

    I am surprised that he is not flanked by one of our "celebrities"...Not to worry though, growing up in Fidel's "workers paradise", he will surely reach his true potential..

    April 7, 2010 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. terry

    that poor kid was used as a pawn by his relatives for the media's camera's. i remember well that late night shot of him with his uncle outside with nothing but camera's going off and it's pitch black. it was pathetic to watch and it was a sad statement for all parties concerned. if he's happy, good for him, whatever his politics. had he remained in the US, he surely would have become his families mealticket and media darling and burning out by the time he was 12.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. GP

    Elian Gonzalez was nothing more than a political prop for the republican party. Would they have decried the leader of Iran for sending in his special police force to remove an American boy from a family house to be returned to his American father?

    For the party of family values they fell terribly short of living up to that principle. They've failed numerous times since.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. asere

    Oh whatever!
    Elian made it here in an intertube –
    it's always been amusing!

    April 7, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dingo

    Good for him. I am sure he got a better education than he would have. This would be a good time for him to come to America to go to college. Best of both worlds, I guess.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Fred

    Good for castro. He saved the boy from being a gang member.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dan

    I never understood why this was such a big deal. The kid's mother wanted to bring him here. She died. Custody goes to the surviving spouse, period. How was it any different than the American kids who was held in Brazil for so long. That father had his rights, did he not?

    April 7, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Antwoine of Atlanta

    He looks JUST LIKE his dad.

    April 7, 2010 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Christopher

    I often think to myself if only our support system was managed by a larger institution I would have a better chance at surviving and competing in a 'free market'

    Or am I just deluding myself into thinking that large scale government involvement into all aspects of my life can still be considered an activity that takes place in a society that believes in Free Markets?

    April 7, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. NMGRRL

    Well, it's nice to see that Elian Gonzalez is doing well with his father, despite the slanderous things that were said about his dad during the vicious custody fight that was occasioned by his mother's death during her attempt to bring him to the US ten years ago. Elian seems to be a fine young man, and has access to social supports under socialism in Cuba that the US would never have provided a poor, undocumented immigrant of Hispanic background in Florida. All in all, I'd say he's been a fortunate son. Just because Elian does not live "here" does not mean he is deprived, oppressed, or somehow less fortunate than he would be had he stayed here.

    April 7, 2010 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. rlwpeace

    The Cuban community of S. Florida showed a shocking display of arrogance in attempting to keep Elian from his father ( as if they knewwhat was best for him). It was never about the boy- he was merely a convienent tool for folks to show their negative feelings towards Castro.

    I also believe Clinton allowed the whole situation to get out of control instead of making a command decision get the boy back to his father; Janet Reno came out looking pretty bad as well.

    April 7, 2010 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
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