Miami exiles knew this would happen if Elián González was sent back to Cuba | Opinion

Jack Gruber/Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

There were two significant events this week related to Cuba.

One was a Cuban baseball player’s defection in Miami during the World Baseball Classic.

The other comes from the island, news that Elián González — yes, that Elián González — will be elected to the Cuban parliament on Sunday. At 29, he is a show pony for Cuba, as many exiles feared.

Many historic Cuban exiles in Miami will look away from this news with heavy hearts.

In 1999, they fought in support of 5-year-old Elián, whose mother took him on a dilapidated boat pointed toward freedom. She died on the sea journey along with other adults. Elián was found floating off the waters of Fort Lauderdale on Thanksgiving Day.


A protracted and highly emotional international custody battle between the boy’s father on the island and his relatives in Miami followed, riveting the nation, and the world. After several months of high-level negotiations, street-level protests and so much division in the community, Fidel Castro got his way. The tortured saga ended with a federal raid on Easter Sunday at the home of Elián’s Little Havana relatives, yet another painful memory for many exiles.

Elián returned to Cuba with his father.

Now married and father of a 2-year-old girl, González said in an interview with the Juventud Rebelde newspaper that he had been encouraged by the Castro brothers to enter politics and thought Fidel Castro “would be proud” of his nomination, the Miami Herald reported this week.

The fight to claim Elián was the last great battle between Castro, U.S. “imperialism” and Miami exiles. And the dictator won.