Miami Herald staff and wire services
On the 14th anniversary of his rescue from a raft in waters off Fort Lauderdale, Elián González said he blames the Cuban Adjustment Act for his mother’s death and the international custody battle it sparked on his behalf.
In an interview with the Cuban weekly Girón published on the cubadebate.cu website, Elian, now 19, said his experience in Miami when he was 6 “marked me for life.”
Clearly echoing the wishes of the Cuban government, González used his interview to ask President Barack Obama to free the five Cuban spies convicted of espionage in Miami, denounced historic Cuban exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation and Alpha 66 and called Operation Pedro Pan, which allowed thousands of Cuban children to escape indoctrination by Fidel Castro’s regime, “an imperialist hoax based on deceptions and used to cause pain.”
In the interview in Spanish, he said his basic rights as a child — “the right to be with my father, the right to maintain my nationality and remain in my cultural context” — were violated in the United States.
On Thanksgiving weekend 1999, the little boy was rescued by two Broward County fisherman. He was the youngest survivor after an overcrowded boat capsized en route from Cuba to Miami. His mother and 10 others seeking to enter the U. S. drowned at sea.