When rescued off the coast of Florida on November 25, 1999, Elián Gonzolas quickly became part of an international custody battle. Fidel Castro demanded that the boy be returned to his father in Cuba, while Florida's Cuban community insisted that he remain with relatives in the United States. Deeper controversies, however, soon revealed themselves. Castro welcomed the controversy as a way to promote nationalism at public rallies and downplay the economic hardship that had plagued Cuba in the '90s. In southern Florida, however, the battle over Gonzolas split the community. While the Cuban-American community outwardly opposed Gonzolas' return, many began to secretly express their belief that he belonged with his father. The ongoing protest also angered African- and Latin-American communities. Both believed that the Cuban-American political leadership in southern Florida had accomplished little for their communities. When Gonzolas was finally returned to Cuba, many questions remained: Would the southern Florida political leadership be more sensitive to Latin- and African-American issues in the future? And would the Cuban-American community continue to allow a small number of politicians to play the decisive roll in setting a Cuban-American foreign policy? Saving Elián offers insightful analyses of the seven-month custody battle over a six-year-old boy from Cuba.
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