Elian Gonzalez Recalls 'Father,' 'Friend' Castro

Says Fidel's friendship was 'extraordinary honor'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2016 9:03 AM CST
Elian Gonzalez Recalls 'Father,' 'Friend' Castro
Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban rafter at the center of a bitter custody battle in 2000 between relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba, attends a gala for the 90th birthday of Cuban Leader Fidel Castror in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016.   (Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate via AP)

Among the tributes and recriminations pouring in in the wake of Fidel Castro's death is a youthful one: Elian Gonzalez, who as a 5-year-old turned into a pawn in US-Cuban relations when he was returned to his father's custody in Cuba. Says Gonzalez, now 22, per ABC News: "Fidel began to be that father like all who start off as fathers, but the difficult thing is for a father to become a friend without ceasing to be a father. He started as that father until he became a friend. And like my father, I wanted to show him everything I achieved so that he could be proud of me." Gonzalez recalls how, at his sixth-grade graduation, Castro "in a public act (said) he considered me his friend," calling it "an extraordinary honor, but also a heavy load." Castro, he says, "prepared us for exactly this moment ... it's up to us to lead the way, it's up to us to fulfill the revolution." (Another key player in the Gonzalez saga, Janet Reno, also recently died.)

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