Where are they now: Elian Gonzalez

Elian Gonzalez (photo: Reuters)

Elian Gonzalez (photo: Reuters)

Some of us are young enough to remember the little boy who was found drifting off the coast of Florida.  Elian Gonzalez and his mother were escaping the country of Cuba and headed to the panhandle state for a presumed better life.  This became a huge political spectacle in early 2000.

Florida has a “wet foot/dry foot” policy that allows for Cubans to remain in the U.S. as long as one foot is on U.S. soil.  Unfortunately, Elian was found floating in the water, thus, a political battle began to take shape.

As Elian’s father called for his son to be returned to him, his family was busy in Florida applying for asylum for Elian.  A federal judge dismissed the relatives petition.  As Elian was paraded around politicians, his relatives continued to appeal to the higher courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, who refused to hear the case.  This would lead to then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, making the biggest decision of her career.

Janet Reno ordered Elian Gonzalez to be returned to his father and the relatives refused.  On April 22, 2000, Reno authorized federal agents to seize Elian.

Federal agents retrieve Elián from his relatives' home in Miami. This photo would win the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News

Federal agents retrieve Elián from his relatives’ home in Miami. This photo would win the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News

A televised government raid on the home in Little Havana would produce the iconic photo above.  Elian Gonzalez believes he would have suffered had he remained in the United States.  Click here to read his full story on why he feels he is better off in Cuba.

The United States continues to enforce embargos, against Cuba, to undermine the economic growth of the communist country.  As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, we are reminded of his love for the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, for Castro opposed apartheid and supported the African National Congress (ANC).  The ANC, Mandela’s organization, was legalized due to the support from Fidel Castro and the Cuban military in 1992.  However, it must be noted, that the U.S. did play a part in Mandela’s 1962 arrest, labeling him a terrorist.

Will the United States ever change their position on communism?  This very position is what led to the unfortunate chain of events surrounding the handling of Elian Gonzalez and his mother taking that fateful boat ride to her subsequent death.

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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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