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This Happened

This Happened - April 22: ​A Child Held At Gunpoint

Elian Gonzalez is a Cuban national who became the subject of an international custody battle. He was five years old at the time. On this day in 2000, federal agents raided the Miami home where Elian was staying with his relatives and forcibly removed him, holding him and his relatives at gunpoint.

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What happened to Elian Gonzalez?

In 1999, Elian's mother and stepfather took him on a boat from Cuba to the United States. Elian's mother died during the journey, and Elian was taken in by his relatives in Miami, Florida. A custody battle ensued, with Elian's father in Cuba seeking to have his son returned to him. After months of legal battles and political maneuvering, the U.S. government ultimately ruled that Elian should be returned to his father in Cuba.

Why was Elian Gonzalez's case so controversial?

Elian Gonzalez's case was controversial because it raised questions about U.S. immigration policy, the role of the federal government in family law matters, and the political relationship between the United States and Cuba. Many in the Cuban-American community in Miami saw Elian's case as a symbol of their opposition to the Cuban government, while others saw it as a matter of basic human rights for a young child and his father.

What happened to Elian Gonzalez after he was returned to Cuba?

After returning to Cuba, Elian Gonzalez became a symbol of the Cuban government's success in challenging U.S. policies towards Cuba. He was given a hero's welcome and was later enrolled in a military academy. He has since kept a low profile and has not spoken publicly about his experience. Fidel Castro met with Elian Gonzalez after his return to Cuba, and hosted a large public rally in Havana to celebrate Elian's return. The meeting was widely publicized in both Cuba and the United States, and it further heightened tensions between the two countries over the custody battle.

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