The image of a young Elian Gonzalez is forever seared in the world’s collective memory. In 2000, Gonzalez, then seven-years-old, was forcefully taken from his relatives’ home in Miami by armed FBI agents and returned to his father in Cuba.
Exclusive: Elian Gonzalez reveals life experiences since returning to CubaThe image of a young Elian Gonzalez is forever seared in the world's collective memory. In 2000, Gonzalez, then seven years old, was forcefully taken from his relatives’ home in Miami by armed FBI agents and returned to his father in Cuba.
The dramatic event followed months of debate on whether Gonzalez belonged with relatives in Miami or his father in Cuba. He had reached the United States from Cuba after a flimsy boat carrying Gonzalez, his mother, her boyfriend, and nine sank, drowning everyone except Gonzalez. U.S. authorities rescued him initially placed him with relatives in Miami.
What followed was one of the most emotional international custody battles covered by the media in recent memory. The relatives in the United States wanted to keep him in Miami while his father demanded his return to Cuba. Eventually, a U.S. federal judge ruled Gonzalez had to be returned to his father. Gonzalez returned to Cuba to a hero’s welcome.
Today, he is a 20-year-old young man who has grown up out of the spotlight except for the occasional visits from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, a man Gonzalez considers a grandfather, and current President Raul Castro.
Correspondent Michael Voss met with Gonzalez recently for an exclusive interview about the young man’s life since returning to Cuba, his relationship with the country’s leadership, and his desire to maintain a private life as he pursues a military career.