HAVANA – “Rafter boy” Elian Gonzalez, now 16, declared on television his great commitment to the Cuban Revolution and said he would shed his blood to defend his country.
Elian, who 10 years ago was the focus of a bitter custody battle between his Cuban father and some distant relatives living in the United States, granted an unusual interview Monday to Venezuelan state television, which was also aired in Havana.
Gonzalez is currently studying at the Los Camilitos Military School and said he is not really sure what his professional future will be, though he mentioned that his school trains future military officers and engineers for the defense sector.
Asked if he feels committed to the Cuban revolution, Elian was unequivocal: “My commitment is very great, and especially to my country, to the point that I’m ready to give everything for it, even shed my blood to defend it as any other youth would do who loves the land of his birth.”
Gonzalez has been presented on several occasions by Cuban media and with particular frequency over the last few months, 10 years after his return from the United States. In his appearance Monday he was accompanied by his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez.
“The people are like any other, with their virtues and defects,” Elian said when asked for his views of the United States. “The problem is with its form of government, with its capitalist ideas and its expansion as a power wanting to take over the world, which is why it’s waging war to dominate a large part of the world.”
Echoing the recent warnings of Fidel Castro, Elian called on U.S. President Barack Obama to make his own decisions and avoid a nuclear war, which will make him to go down in history as the savior of mankind.
In November 1999, Elian Gonzalez survived the shipwreck of a boat full of illegal emigrants in which his mother, Elizabeth Brotons, and another 10 people died trying to reach the Florida coast.
The boy was rescued from the sea by two fishermen and handed over in Miami to some distant paternal relatives, who were given temporary custody and who later refused to return him to his father.
That sparked a complex legal and political dispute, as well as a family drama, which only ended when federal agents seized Elian from his relatives and handed him over to his father, securing his final return to Cuba. EFE