The Elian Gonzalez Custody Battle
Relatives in Miami opened their arms to Elian. Marisleysis Gonzalez, his 21-year-old cousin, became Elian's primary caregiver. "I guess he saw that mother figure in me," she says. "He was always attached to me."
As the months wore on, Elian's story became the focus of a fierce international debate. Some believed he should stay in the United States, while others thought he should return to his father in Communist Cuba. "We just wanted the best for Elian," Marisleysis says.
With the U.S. government's help, Marisleysis says she and her family arranged for a psychologist to help determine where Elian should live…but that meeting never happened. One day, Marisleysis says federal agents stormed her house with their guns drawn and took Elian away. "It was terrifying. It was something I never expected," she says. "[Elian] was begging for nobody to take him."
Marisleysis says she hasn't been able to communicate with Elian since that day. If she could speak to Elian, she says she'd tell him she still loves him.
In 2008, it was widely reported that Elian joined Cuba's Young Communist Union. Since then, he's been seen in the front row at government functions, leading parades and attending Communist party celebrations.
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