Those old enough to recall the Elian Gonzalez case may always picture him as a six-year-old boy shrieking in terror as federal marshals retrieved him at gunpoint from relatives in Florida. The case became a cause célèbre in the US, and especially in the Cuban ex-patriate community in Florida in 1999, generating anger and resentment against the Clinton administration for forcibly reuniting Elian with his father in Cuba after his mother perished in their desperate escape from the island. Now a young man, Gonzalez tells ABC News that he’d like to come back to the US and thank people for the “love” they showed him, but he has no intention of staying this time either:
Today, Gonzalez says he’d like to come back to the United States, but only as a tourist, telling ABC News he’d like to see a baseball game, visit Washington museums and talk to Americans.
“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 said. “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.” …
“To the American people, first I say thank you for the love they give me,” Gonzalez said. “I want the time to give my love to American people.”
It’s a big puff piece from ABC News, which is jumping on the bandwagon of the opening with Cuba to offer this human-interest story. It’s particularly interesting that they farmed out the interview in part to a Cuban photographer who has worked with Elian in the past. That suggests that ABC basically worked through a Castro regime handler, given the control Cuba exerts over its media, and makes this whole project look a little suspect — especially the tease at the end of the interview, in which Elian has a mysterious condition to demand for reconciliation for the relatives who tried to keep him in the US sixteen years ago.
One hint of the life Elian leads also comes at the very end. The news crew helps Elian take “his first selfie” with his fiancee, which he promises to use as his Facebook profile picture … just as soon as he’s allowed enough Internet access to post it. Why isn’t Gonzalez, who has been a propaganda subject for the Castros since his return from the US, allowed Internet access? Even better yet, why aren’t all Cubans allowed sufficient Internet access to participate in open social media networks and get access to a wide range of information?
Oddly, ABC doesn’t ask those questions. Maybe Elian will when he comes to the US for his vacation.