When I was in 8th grade in 1999 when 5 year old Elian Gonzales was rescued from a raft off the coast of Miami - one of the few survivors from his family and a group of refugees trying to escape Cuba to get to the United States. There was a huge battle of custody between his father in Cuba and his mother's family in Miami. It became a huge international court battle and sensational news piece which ended with Elian's father being awarded custody in Cuba, his US family refusing to turn him over, and then Elian's eventual return to his home country.
While the rest of the world has had access to visiting Cuba, the United States has been cut off from any type of trade, travel, or aid to or from Cuba under the ruling of socialist dictator Fidel Castro. In recent years, Castro transferred power to his brother as he fell ill. Just this past year, through peacemaking with President Obama, Americans are able to, for the first time in decades, visit Cuba and relations are being repaired. The common opinion of Fidel Castro as a harsh ruler who was abusive to his people drastically contrasts with the people of Cuba who viewed him as a strong leader who stood up to the US and reformed their country to have amazing healthcare and medical treatments, some revolutionary to medical practices in the US. In the US, very little of the population even knew this deep love of Fidel Castro could be possible.
This drastic divide between the opinions of Castro have become prominent since his death yesterday. While Cuban refugees in Miami celebrated and cheered the death of a dictator that caused them to flee their country and risk their lives to get to the US, Cuban citizens mourned the loss and praised his work, hoping to continue what he had started.
In this article., Elian Gonzales, who Americans must believe went back to Cuba for a life of abuse and oppression, echoed the loving sentiments of his fellow Cubans. He shared in an interview today that he thought of Castro as a father figure and admired what he had done stating that his legacy will live on in everything Castro had done for his country, for medicine, for Haitians, etc. Prime Minister Trudeau as well as President Obama have also praised Castro, which was met by a large backlash.
This interview is interesting because American media has had such limited access to Cuba and Castro, seeing this side is shocking to Americans.
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