Cuba Politics

60 Minutes: Elian Gonzalez calls Castro a ‘friend’

Posted September 29, 2005 by mattlawrence in Cuba Politics.

—Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle five years ago, said in a new television interview that Cuban President Fidel Castro is his friend, but also that he hopes someday to see his family in Miami again.

Associated Press
Posted September 29 2005, 3:23 PM EDT


``Despite everything they did, it was wrong, they are (still) my family ... my uncles,’’ Gonzalez said in the interview with CBS’s ``60 Minutes,’’ which released excerpts Thursday for the program that airs Sunday night.
Gonzalez, now 11, set off a seven-month custody battle after he rescued off the Florida coast in November 1999 during a failed attempt to reach the United States. Gonzalez was one of only three survivors _ his mother died at sea _ and his Miami relatives and Cuban exile groups fought to prevent his return to Cuba.

The boy was reunited with his father in Cuba after an armed federal raid April 22, 2000, on his relatives’ home. In the years since, Elian Gonzalez has been treated as a hero in Cuba, with Castro attending his elementary school graduation and having him give a highly publicized speech this year on the fifth anniversary of the Miami raid.

``It’s also very moving to me and I also believe I am his friend,’’ Gonzalez said of Castro in the interview. He said he considers Castro ``not only as a friend, but also as a father.’‘

The boy’s aunt, Angela Gonzalez, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she isn’t sure whether what Elian said in the interview represented his true beliefs because of Cuba’s controls on information. She said family members in the United States have been prevented from having any contact with the boy since he returned to Cuba.

``We love him. He is always on our minds,’’ said Angela Gonzalez, who had U.S. custody of Elian and whose former home was the site of the federal raid in 2000.

In the interview, Elian Gonzalez faulted some of his U.S. relatives’ actions during his time in Miami.

``They were telling me bad things about (my father) ... They were also telling me to tell (my father) that I did not want to go back to Cuba and I always told them I wanted to,’’ he said.

He also said that he had a hard time sleeping while in Miami. ``I would have nightmares and my uncles would talk to me about my mother. It was better not to remind me of that because that tormented me. I was very little,’’ he said.

Ramon Sanchez, founder of the Cuban exile group Democracy Movement, said he and other Cuban-Americans believe that Elian ``is under the control of the government’’ in Cuba.

``Obviously what we have seen after he was sent to Cuba is exactly what we feared, that he was going to be subjected to the control of the regime and that he would be brainwashed,’’ Sanchez said. ``It is very hard to determine if that is his own opinion or not.’’


Member Comments

On September 29, 2005, publisher wrote:

Why are radical Cuban exile groups always right and everybody else is wrong?

I guess it’ time that they start to HATE Elian since they think he is now part of everything that is wrong in Cuba.

“She said family members in the United States have been prevented from having any contact with the boy since he returned to Cuba.”

That’ probably because President Bush will not let them travel to Cuba. Or maybe it’ because they acted like lunatics and that maybe Elian’ father is protecting him like any good father would?

On September 29, 2005, yumaguy wrote:

LOL, yep, Elian’ a commie!  wink  Looks like they brainwashed him pretty good. This has got to be a bitter pill to swallow for the Miami crowd but the whole Elian debacle was just a crazy PR war on both sides. Castro won the first round, but only because of international precedent, and he must have promised a sweet deal to the father. If I was Elian’ dad, I wouldn’t trust Fidel 100% but I think he made the only rational decision he could at that time.

If the father had defected and stayed with Elian in Miami, there’ not a chance in hell he could ever go back to Cuba, or bring any more family members to the U.S. No way no how! Over Fidel’ dead body, literally! To abandon everything he knows and cut all ties with the island for years, perhaps decades, must have been too much to consider; better to take the boy back and become a “hero of the revolution.” It’ dangerous to deal with devils but what choice did the man have. . . ??

On September 30, 2005, crp236 wrote:

Elian is much better living in Cuba than living in the USA. He is living with his real family, that truly loves him. Here, he would only be living in a foreign country.