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. Howard

    The entire episode of Elian Gonzalez should never have happened. The right of a surviving parent to raise his or her child should never be weighed on the basis of the kind of political system they live under, since nearly all people are predisposed to look favorably on the system under which they were born. Elian should have been returned promptly as the paternity of the Father was established.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. jarek

    Send him back to CUBA with his want to be a "revolutionary" uniform.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. John 1

    RIght on Elian!!! In LaSalle County Illinois USA they "Screw Fathers into the ground." At least I was able to play a part in Mr. Gonzales in the return of his son to the righful parent...... HIS FATHER!!! I am ashamed there there was any issue "What-So-Ever" in Elian's return.

    I doubt if Elian's father realizes how many people in this county, "Went to Bat" for him and wrote our President, congressmen, senators and anybody else who would listen!

    When Elian was returned to his Dad it was like the very happy ending of the Que Creek mining disaster!

    April 7, 2010 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ryan

    No other countries in the world have racism and gangs,right? Get over yourselves. I'm not some Toby Keith tea party flag waving red neck American but I will say one thing..........if this place is so bad then do us all a favor and move to Cuba for us. Be sure to send us a post card of your shack, over crowded hospitals and poor living conditions. You don't see too many people crossing the ocean on a rotted wooden raft to have a shot to live in Cuba. Good luck getting on the internet there and sharing your idiotic opinions.

    April 7, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Freebirdx6

    Schuler, it’s a good thing our founding father’s didn’t follow your advice. Immigrants built this country and they came for a better future and in most cases to escape a tyrannical regime. I wonder how many exiled German’s could have gone back to their country when Hitler was in power. The Cuban immigrants in this country have made remarkable achievements. Take a look at some of the top businesses in this country and who owns them. This entrepreneurial spirit is what has provided us with the best chance to topple and fight Castro’s regime. That’s why Castro hates the exiled Cubans so much. And why socialist views love the way they will be able to tap into what we have built and “re-distribute the wealth” (probably to help Schuler).

    April 7, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Angels&Demons

    Clinton could have put a “spin” on either decision. “The boy belonged with his dad” or “The boy deserves the freedom and future that this country can offer. What his mother died for”. Castro saw him as a trophy in a fight against the Cuban exiles. It’s amazing how one little boy can change the course of history. Whatever pressure Castro put on the US to get this boy back it was ultimately the wrong decision for the democrats. The strong Cuban political representation voted Bush into power. This is not an exaggeration when you remember how close the Gore – Bush election was and how the determining state was Florida. It was the Cuban voters that were mad at Clinton because of Elian. One boy rescued by dolphin’s changed our history.

    April 7, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ana

    So glad to see a pic of Elian. Glad he is growing next to his papa!

    April 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elizabeth Caddigan

    Very nice picture of Elian.He looks so grown up and is so cute.What a Sweetheart.!I only wish the best for him!!

    April 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gus

    Having had the opportunity to be in Havana (legally) when he returned, His status has always intrigued me. I'm sure that after his family vacation, he was "adopted" into the "more equals".
    My hope that no matter what happens as our governments evolve, the key lessons we all should have learned aren't lost.

    April 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kerry

    Handsome young man!

    April 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TWR2422

    I only hope that hs is happy considering what he went through at such a young age....Do any of you remember how terrified he looked in the photos when he was pulled away and returned to CUBA?

    April 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mauricio

    Compare the youth of South Florida with the youth of Cuba. That says it all. Hopefully he'll grow up and become part of the Cuban gov't where he can help improve US-Cuban relations.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john

    I bet that he will run for president one day... he is a symbol to them, and they are grooming him to become president one day... mark my words. he is going to be the future president of cuba.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Irene

    A very sad history! please do not forget that he saw his mother dying for freedom at the age of 6. He won't never forget that.

    April 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tyler

    Elian, It is good to see you! I hope the world realizes that you could have stayed here in America just as your beloved Mother wanted for you to. If it hadn't been for "la vieja" as you called her, Reno, you would have. But staying there serves you no good purpose other than to further indoctrinate your young and impressionable mind into a world of Communism that no child should have to live under much less endure. You are a FREE Soul, Elian. You should come to the United States of America to live and realize a dream that your Mother had for you. You could bring much to this country and Love is one of the virtues you would bring! BTW, Castro is no friend of ours as you may know. And if it wasn't for your rich history, could you honestly say he was a friend of yours? Think about it.

    April 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
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