Elián González Poised To Become Lawmaker After Nomination To Cuba’s National AssemblyHow To
Elián González, the Cuban national whose precarious boyhood arrival in the U.S. in 1999 prompted a fierce international custody battle, is set to become a lawmaker. González was nominated by his local municipal assembly on Sunday to serve in Cuba’s National Assembly.
While González’s seat in the 470-seat National Assembly has yet to be ratified with a vote, his nomination is expected to go through. The development was first reported by the Communist Party-run newspaper Granma, which wrote that González represents “the most worthy of the Cuban youth.”
González was en route to Florida with his mother when their boat capsized on Thanksgiving 1999 and she and other migrants drowned. The boy’s fate thereafter became a flashpoint in U.S.-Cuba relations.
His father, a waiter named Juan Miguel who had remained in Cuba, famously fought for his son’s return. Distant relatives in Miami, however, launched a legal battle to keep the boy in the U.S. — and feared González would become a political pawn of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
U.S. immigration officials eventually decided to place González in the custody of his father, which the boy’s family in Miami refused to accept. A nighttime raid in April 2000 saw federal agents storm the house where González was staying, spurring protests and counter-demonstrations.
González was flown home to Cuba after the Supreme Court rejected the effort to keep him in the U.S. The island nation celebrated the return of González, who later said the government bodyguards ordered to protect him had become some of his closest friends.
Castro himself was a guest of honor at González’s seventh birthday back home. In 2013, González told state-run media that the Cuban leader was “like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path.” He would later profess that Castro had become a father figure for him, and held back tears when the bearded authoritarian died in 2016.
González’s own father was also reportedly nominated to the National Assembly in 2003 but stepped down without an explanation.
“I don’t profess to have any religion,” the younger González told state-run media in 2013, according to CNN, “but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro.”