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Sun Jun 28, 2015, 09:58 PM

How The Battle Over Elián González Helped Change U.S. Cuba Policy

How The Battle Over Elián González Helped Change U.S. Cuba Policy
June 28, 201512:43 PM ET

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the end of the Elián González drama — the international custody battle that gave the cable news networks bizarre fodder for seven long months in 1999 and 2000.

Elián was a 5-year-old boy found drifting off the Florida coast after his mother drowned during their attempt to escape communist Cuba. Miami's anti-communist Cuban-American leaders demanded Elián be allowed to live with relatives in Miami. The boy's father wanted him back in Cuba. So did Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

International law was on Cuba's side. Which is why that Easter weekend, U.S. agents had to seize Elián during a controversial raid on the Miami family's home in Little Havana. Two months later, on June 28, all the court appeals ended and Elián returned to Cuba. In his wake, he left a Cuban-American community in disarray — but more poised to update its geopolitical outlook.

"It was a pivotal event," says millionaire Miami businessman Carlos Saladrigas. "It changed the whole dynamic of the Miami community. It changed me." Saladrigas was one of the hardline Cuban-American leaders involved in negotiating Elián's fate with the feds. But when it was all over, he says he and many others began some serious soul-searching.


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Reply How The Battle Over Elián González Helped Change U.S. Cuba Policy (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jun 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Jun 2015 #1
Joe Chi Minh Jun 2015 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Jun 28, 2015, 10:33 PM

1. On the streets of Cuba

On the streets of Cuba

Painstakingly maintained cars are a 'living museum' of pre-1959 design

By Bradford Wernle RSS feed
Published June 28, 2015 - 12:01 am ET

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba — I climb into the back seat of a fire-engine red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air taxi owned by Argelio Pena Mendoza here in Cuba’s second largest city. Mendoza turns the key, and the ancient inline six-cylinder engine wheezes and rumbles to life in a haze of exhaust smoke. He shoves the car’s three-on-the-tree shift lever into first, and we’re off.

Only Mendoza knows the secret of how the door handles work, so he lets me and my friend Tom in and out of the 58-year-old car as we tour Santiago’s highlights, including San Juan Hill, where Teddy Roose-velt’s Rough Riders won their biggest victory of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Mendoza, a 60-ish man, pulls into a gas station. I wait for him to flip open the little chrome door on the left rear fin behind which the 1957 Chevy’s gas cap is famously concealed. But Mendoza’s car has no gas tank. Instead, he hoists the hood and pumps gasoline into a pair of 1-gallon plastic bottles under the hood in front of the radiator. These bottles are connected to the fuel pump by plastic lines. Mendoza opens the trunk to show me a hole in the floor through which I can see the road below.

“Maybe someday I will find a gas tank,” he says with a shrug. For now, he must make do, as do so many Cubans, whose mechanical resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Jun 29, 2015, 07:47 AM

2. I remember the brilliant epigram of a British journalist at the time: 'He needs his father more

than he needs a Western, capitalist economy.' Words to that effect, anyway. I believe he was put up by the family of a former enforcer of Battista or Santos Traficante, the boss of the Cuban mafia.

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