Elian Gonzales is still living in his native Cuba. He’s now 21 and engaged to be married.
(Do you feel old yet?)
Elian, who is studying engineering, stated in a recent interview with ABC that he wants to return to the United States.
The Bitter Custody Battle Over Elian
Elian was a frightened 6-year-old boy when rescuers found him holding onto a makeshift life raft off the coast of Florida in November 1999. The rickety boat filled with desperate refugees, including his mother, had capsized; only Elian survived.
Elian went to live with relatives in nearby Miami, but a heated custody battle ensued with his father in Cuba. The elder Gonzales demanded that authorities return Elian to him.
The boy’s relatives and the local Cuban-American community rallied to try to keep Gonzales here in the U.S. However, after much deliberation (and media attention), the court awarded custody to his father.
You may recall the heart-rending footage of armed federal agents taking the terrified youngster from his new home. Television viewers on both sides of the issue could at least agree that the whole ordeal must have been terrible for Elian; he was only six.
Once he left for Cuba, we heard little about Gonzales, and the U.S. media moved on without missing a beat.
Elian Gonzales Today: He’d Love to Visit
Today, Elian is a young adult with a promising future. He’s still grateful to the Americans who took him in and fought to keep him, and that appears to be all that’s left of the harrowing experiences he endured as a child.
Where were you when Elian was taken from his Miami protectors by federal agents? Do you remember watching the saga unfold on the news? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the historic case, so share them on our Facebook page.