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Cuba Libre!

4/6/2010 1:14 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

The handsome 16-year-old resurfaced at some communist event in Havana on Easter Sunday, looking indoctrinated.

Elian Gonzalez
On April 22, 2000, Elian was taken from the home of his Miami relatives by U.S. federal agents and eventually returned to Cuba.

In 2008, Elian became a member of the Young Communist Union of Cuba.


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I love a man-boy in uniform!

1598 days ago


Mygawd, this boy looks like a killer/war criminal in training.

1598 days ago


Because, really, when I think of celebs, the first person who comes to mind is Elian Gonzalez. Any fresh dirt on the president of Peru?

1598 days ago


Upon Elian's return to Cuba, his father was given a parliament position, which he still retains. Both father and son are reportedly closely monitored by the government. No one can know what this young man is thinking, but he has been treated as a "national hero" since his return, and property of the government. It is doubtful he has had any choice in what he does, but hopefully is content with his life and not affected by the trauma of his earlier life.

1598 days ago


At first I was, "I don't even know what to think about that." then on second thought, I'm glad the Cuban gov took care of him.... politics aside.

1598 days ago


Well if we are going to get political, his father should have realized when Castro did not ALLOW him to come to the US to get his child, that Cuba ain't all that grand. Still, I don't think Cuba is so bad that his mom had any right to to endanger her child the way she did. I understand wanting freedom but I can't imagine going into shark infested waters for days on end with a five year old! It wasn't as if she was in the middle east or some place COMPLETELY repressive. Thank God I am not in the situation that this family was in.

1598 days ago


First of all, Trish, #15: You need to go back to your government classes. You are NOT "automatically" a citizen if your feet touch land in America. Cubans are given an opportunity to puruse residency a YEAR later and to pursue citizenship after 7 years. Look up the "Wet Feet/Dry Feet" policy for the CORRECT information instead of perpetuating ignorance.

As for Elian, I followed this very closely when it was happening. His mother took him on a DEADLY journey to another country without the father's consent/knowledge. She was GROSSLY irresponsible in doing this, as her own death illustrates.

She was NOT a good mother and any one of you would be out of your minds if your ex-spouse took your kid on a DEADLY journey to another country without your consent, you never to see your kid again.

As a minor with a living, loving parent, why in the world should distant, unknown "cousins" be allowed to keep a child that was brought to this country illegally and against that parent's wishes?

If ANY of you had an ex spouse take your kid ANYWHERE without your consent in order to establish residency/citizenship, ex spouse DYING in doing so, and then had to battle it out to get your kid back to his native country, again, you'd be out of your mind.

Just because WE don't like what we THINK we know about Cuban politics, lifestyle, etc., doesn't give US the right to keep a father from his child. I was actually surprised this whole saga went on as long as it did and resulted in such a violent apprehension of the boy to return him to his father. As I recall, they went into the house, guns drawn, and had to take him by force because the "cousins" wouldn't surrender him.

Bottom line is that NOBODY "knows" that he would have had a "better" life in the U.S. than he has in Cuba. Would growing up around street thugs (kidnappers) who made such a spectacle out of the whole thing be "better" than a quiet life with his father in his native country?

Get off your political high horses and realize where jurisdiction lies. It lies with the FATHER, who did NOT risk his child's life on a haphazzard scheme to get to another country.

And if it were ANY of you, you would agree... You would want your kid back, at HOME, with you and not with a bunch of strangers that were using your kid for fame and fortune in another country.

1598 days ago


#28 samper ---You make some good points, but if things were so great in Cuba why is it that people are risking their lives to get out of the oppresive Cuba ? No doubt this child was dramatized by the use of force to obtain him from that closet. We will never know now if he would have been better off here in the United States. But a picture says a thousand words and this picture shows me a very unhappy young man who has been forced into a communist uniform under the rule of Castro. My nephews are half Cuban and their grandparents escaped the same way all the Cuban's escape. They took the life threatening journey here. Its amazing how desperate the Cuban's are to get away that they would risk their lives to do so. That speaks volumes to me !

1598 days ago


Barbie: MANY people HERE are also dissatisfied with our country. It doesn't make it right to take a child into deadly situations to escape it. Nor is it right, upon DYING, that the child be denied his other living, loving parent and homeland and instead placed with strangers. For what? Because WE think WE know how best to raise someone else's child from another country?

Elian wasn't abused, malnourished, homeless, or without all necessities and schooling in Cuba. Not liking the politics of that nation is NO REASON to demand he stay here.

It doesn't MATTER how many Cubans want to leave Cuba. Elian's father DIDN'T/DOESN'T and he should be able to raise his son as HE sees fit, not how a bunch of Americans see fit. As long as he isn't in danger otherwise, WE don't have a say in the matter. Even then, we don't have a say... he's not a U.S. Citizen.

No matter where he ended up, we would "never know" how his life would have been on the other side.

As for the photo, it was a split second in time. He could have just sneezed for all we know. It certainly shouldn't be considered representative of his overall demeanor.

Bottom line is that it was an embarrassment to this country to have the world thinking we could rip a child from his only living parent (who WANTED him) just because WE think we are "better".

Again, if it was your kid, you'd be out of your mind sitting here while your kid was in some other country that wouldn't give him/her back to you.

1598 days ago


One other thought... if his mother lived and they made it here safely, WE should have taken him from his mother anyway. She put him in a life threatening situation and was unfit to be deemed able to make responsible decisions in raising her son.

So where does he "win" by being here? He then would have lost BOTH parents (and came close to doing so with this whole situation as it was).

1598 days ago


Generally Cubans work for 25 CUC per month. Food is often in shortages, if you do not have a child at home or if you are not pregnant you do not qualify for milk, so you don't get any, don't think you can buy that with your 25 CUC, because prices of all things (tooth brushes, shampoo, toothpaste, lightbulbs) is either black market which shampoo could see prices of $6-9 or Lighbulbs are going for $6. You may not speak freely of your thoughts of the government, you can be accused at anytime and taken for questioning. Healthcare is government provided but medicines are hard to come by. Ya, sounds like he's in a better situation as a ward of "The Leader of Cuba" . . . NOT! Castro doesn't look after anyone but himself.

1598 days ago

Julie Vinette    

Yes poor guy indeed. He has free education, health care and discipline but absolutely no freedom. What of the probability of him ending up in a street gang in Little Havana, Miami, carrying a weapon. A third world country of it's own right.

1598 days ago


jax76ca: You are WRONG! First, Cubans aren't paid in CUC, which is the Tourist currency. Second, they get their soap, toothpaste, and other items plus various food items via their "ration booklets" (a social program). Their cost of living is extraordinarily low and therefore so are wages, but NO ONE starves in Cuba.

They live simply, but that doesn't mean they live uncomfortably.

1598 days ago

Mike S    

As much as I hate communism a child belongs with his Dad period!

Elian can make a decision as an adult as to what political system he can live in.

1598 days ago

Thunder Thighs    

Kudos for samper! Such an objective comment like yours is a rarity on tmz. I wonder if you live in the USA.
To the other commenters: just compare Haiti to Cuba, then you can see for yourself whether life in Cuba really is that bad.

1598 days ago
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