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Posted July 31, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Culture

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BY MAKI BECKER | New York Daily News

Elian Gonzalez, now 10, hits the books in Cardenas, Cuba, where he lives with his father.

Four years after little Elian Gonzalez was plucked from the seas off Florida’s coast and sparked an international custody battle, the young boy is leading a sheltered and almost normal life back in Cuba.

Elian lives with his father in their hometown of Cardenas and he still sports the same impish grin that captivated the world back in 2000.

In an interview with NBC’s “Dateline” to air Sunday, Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, says he has generally kept Elian out of the limelight, even moving to a secret location in town to avoid the press.

“The media (in Miami) intimidated him, pressured him most of all,” Gonzalez said in his first interview in three years. “It totally overwhelmed him.”

As Elian’s American relatives fought to keep him in the U.S. and his father sought to take him back to Cuba, hundreds of reporters camped out outside their Miami home, recording every movement of the photogenic little boy.

The custody clash even led to a war of words between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the boy’s fiercely anti-Castro American relatives.

The stalemate ended dramatically as heavily armed federal officers stormed the house in the middle of the night, snatched the terrified boy and took him into protective custody.

Elian still grieves for his mother who drowned when their boat capsized on its way to Florida, Gonzalez said, but he has adjusted to life well.

“I can truly say that since his return, my son has never had to see a psychologist, or anyone else,” Gonzalez told “Dateline NBC.”

Elian is learning karate and has two girlfriends, Gonzalez reports.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on August 01, 2004 by Ralph

    Despite that Elian the boy, is living an almost normal life,
    Sadly, he will be marked for the rest of his life,because the
    sunk and the forever painful experience of missing his Mum.Just
    GOD can give him healing,but none else.The E lian experience,
    sadly it is not rare,when you see the palestinian struggle,or
    the israelis boys ,many of them have lost families,all and many
    have died,what I am saying is all of us,the adults,are guilty
    for the death or the permanent suffering of the world’ children.-

  2. Follow up post #2 added on August 02, 2004 by Dana Garrett

    Ralph, you are a naturally compassionate and wise person because only a wise and compassionate person can show so much insight and speak so much truth in the space of one post.

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