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Elian Gonzalez: US Is Place He'd Visit If He Could Go Anywhere

Image: Elian Gonzalez: US Is Place He'd Visit If He Could Go Anywhere
(Adalberto/AFP/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 07:04 AM

Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who was returned to his home country after an international custody battle, said in a new interview that if he could visit anywhere in the world, it would be the U.S.

"For my family it has always been, we always have the desire to say to the American people, to say to each household our gratitude, appreciation and love that we have," he told ABC News. "Perhaps one day we could pay a visit to the United States. I could personally thank those people who helped us, who were there by our side. Because we're so grateful for what they did."

Gonzalez, now 21, was found floating off the coast of Florida in 1999. His mother drowned after the boat they used to flee the Communist nation capsized. Thereafter, the 6-year-old Gonzalez became the subject of a months-long custody battle between his relatives in Florida, and his father Juan, back home in Cuba.

During that time the country's Communist government organized marches and protests demanding that he be returned to Cuba.

U.S. Marshalls under direction of the Clinton administration ultimately took the boy by force from his relatives' home, and the image of an officer pointing a gun at a terrified Gonzalez became one of the most famous photos of the decade. He was soon returned to his father in Cuba, where he's lived since.

These days, the grown up Gonzalez is engaged to his high school sweetheart Ilianet Escaño, a 22-year-old college student, and he attends college as an engineering student. Several news stories have portrayed him as sympathetic to the communist regime.

ABC producers handed Gonzalez a smartphone so he and his girlfriend could snap a selfie photo, and he said he'd like to use it as his profile picture on Facebook someday — as soon has he has more Internet access.

"To the American people, first I say thank you for the love they give me. I want the time to give my love to American people," he added.



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Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who was returned to his home country after an international custody battle, said in a new interview that if he could visit anywhere in the world, it would be the U.S.
elian gonzalez, us, visit
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2015-04-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 07:04 AM
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