The Cuban boy at the center of a huge political battle between Dictator Fidel Castro and the United States is almost 20 and he’s demanding the release of four convicted spies serving lengthy sentences in federal prisons.
Elian Gonzalez also reveals, via the communist island’s official media, that his experience in the U.S. has scarred him for life. In 1999 Gonzalez lost his mother at sea during a voyage from Cuba to Florida and a dramatic custody battle ensued between his father in Cuba and his Miami relatives. Bill Clinton’s Justice Department eventually ordered a violent raid in which armed federal agents retrieved the boy, then 6 years old, from his uncle’s south Florida house in the middle of the night. Just look at the gripping picture of a federal agent pointing a rifle at a terrified Elian Gonzalez that night.
The boy’s Miami family was in the process of finalizing an agreement with then Attorney General Janet Reno that would have peacefully transferred custody to his father in Cuba. Despite the family’s efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution of its dispute with the government, more than 150 heavily armed federal agents descended on the Gonzalez family’s neighborhood during Holy Week.
Six federal agents broke down the Gonzalez’s front door and held the family, its lawyers, and negotiators at gunpoint while they searched for and removed Elian from the home. Neighbors and peacefully assembled supporters were gassed, kicked, beaten, cursed, and held at gunpoint by federal agents. Judicial Watch represented approximately 100 peaceful supporters who were harmed during the infamous raid on Easter Sunday, April 22, 2000.
During the raid, which was ordered by Clinton officials, including Reno, agents of the then-INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) used “excessive and unreasonable force” against supporters of Elian, including spraying CS Gas — or tear gas — in direct violation of government policy. On behalf of the victims, Judicial Watch sued the government for negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent of emotional distress. The United States Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the lawsuit and JW appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia.
Over the years Elian has appeared in a number of communist television clips, but this marks his first in-depth interview as an adult. Miami’s largest Spanish-language newspaper published it over the weekend, inserting comments about Elian’s obvious use of official communist regime language. He asks President Barack Obama to free Cuban foreign intelligence officers convicted in 2001 for espionage, conspiracy to commit murder and acting as an agent of a foreign government. One of the spies is already out on probation after serving a 13-year sentence but four remain in federal jails.
Elian Gonzalez compares the convicted agents to Cuban exile groups in the U.S., calling them “terrorist organizations” that support the “anti-Cuba mafia” that wanted him to suffer by keeping him away from his family during his ordeal as a kid in the U.S. Elian also blasts a 1960s program known as Peter Pan that allowed thousands of Cuban kids to “escape the indoctrination of the Fidel Castro regime.”