Photo: Elián Gonzalez
Elián Gonzalez, spent his 18th birthday surrounded by friends and his father, in a celebration held in his home in his native Cárdenas, 90 miles east of Havana.
It was Thanksgiving Day 1999 when a fisherman found then 6-year-old Elián González clinging to an inner tube, off the coast of Florida.
The young boy explained his mother and others fleeing the island perished along the way, and he was taken to live with relatives in Miami.
The boy’s father, who was separated from Elián’s mom and still living in Cuba, said the boy was taken without his permission, and demanded he was returned to the Island.
Following an intense and international legal dispute, it was decided the boy should be flown back to Cuba.
Elián’s Miami family refused to relinquish him, and on April of 2000, federal agents stormed Elian’s uncle’s home in little Havana and took the boy at gunpoint; Elian was on a plane to Cuba 2 months later.
Elián currently studies at a military academy on the island and took part in an 18th birthday celebration Tuesday alongside his father.
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