Elían Gonzalez, Rafter Boy Turned National Assembly Nominee

Elían González, the Cuban boy whose custody battle once sparked Cold War tensions, has been nominated to serve in the island's National Assembly, the communist-party daily Granma said Monday.[0] On Thanksgiving Day 1999, the then-six-year-old González was rescued from the Florida Straits, becoming a global sensation.[1] His father, Juan Miguel, travelled to the United States to press for his son's return, and the two sides fought out the high-profile case in court.[2] US immigration officials decided to put Elían in the custody of his father, prompting a nighttime raid by federal agents who seized the boy.[2]

Elían was reunited with his father and the two flew home to Cuba, where the government celebrated his return with a massive demonstration.[2] Fidel Castro was the guest of honor at Elían’s seventh birthday party, and his image celebrating with the rafter-boy was transmitted around the world.[2] Now 29, the newspaper referred to González as “representing the most worthy of the Cuban youth.”[0]

Serving in the National Assembly would be the highest profile position for González since his custody battle, which was a new flashpoint in the feud between supporters and opponents of Castro’s revolution.[3] His father, a waiter who had received invitations to defect while in the United States, was appointed to the island’s National Assembly but later stepped down without any official explanation.[3]

[2] In an interview with Cuba’s state-run media in 2013, he said, “I don’t profess to have any religion, but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path.”[2] He added, “Living here is a debt I owe to the Cuban people. That’s who I will always work and fight for.”[3]

Gonzalez’s nomination all but secures his post in the 470-seat National Assembly that meets several times a year to discuss proposed laws, which the body usually votes unanimously to approve.[2] It is a remarkable turn of events for a boy who was once at the center of an international custody battle.

0. ““…the most worthy of the Cuban youth,” Elián Gonzalez nominated for seat in Cuban's National Assembly” Islander News.com, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.islandernews.com/news/the-most-worthy-of-the-cuban-youth-eli-n-gonzalez-nominated-for-seat-in-cuban/article_79950540-a7ab-11ed-b9ba-872a637776f1.html

1. “Cuban man who was part of international custody battle in South Florida goes into politics” WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale, 8 Feb. 2023, https://wsvn.com/news/politics/cuban-man-who-was-part-of-international-custody-battle-in-south-florida-goes-into-politics/

2. “Elian Gonzalez set to become Cuban lawmaker | Parliament | waow.com” WAOW, 7 Feb. 2023, https://www.waow.com/townnews/parliament/elian-gonzalez-set-to-become-cuban-lawmaker/article_ed9b84c1-bc6d-5b43-9b39-8e849ba03192.html

3. “Elian Gonzalez set to become Cuban lawmaker” kuna noticias y kuna radio, 7 Feb. 2023, https://kesq.com/news/2023/02/06/elian-gonzalez-set-to-become-cuban-lawmaker/