By Bill Hutchinson AND Irving Dejohn / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 9, 2013, 10:31 AM
There's no question where Elian Gonzalez' allegiance lies. Gonzalez,
now 20, is a military cadet studying engineering. He left Cuba for the
first time since the bitter custody dispute in 2000.
Gonzalez, who turned 20 on Friday, traveled to Quito, Ecuador, with a 200-person Cuban delegation for a weeklong youth conference, according to reports.
RELATED: TEN YEARS LATER: GROWNUP ELIAN GONZALEZ ISN'T HOLDING A GRUDGE
The international fight over where Gonzalez would live ended with him returning to Cuba. In this picture, armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy.
“Wherever I go there’s always a child, an old woman that comes to me and wants to meet me,” Gonzalez told CNN. “Not because I’m famous, but because they suffered with my family.”
RELATED: OBAMA FREE TO CHANGE U.S.-CUBA POLICY
Then-leader Fidel Castro led the charge in Cuba to get Gonzalez returned to his native land. Gonzalez recently called the infamous Castro a 'father' figure.
He was placed with relatives in Miami, but his father Juan Miguel successfully fought to have him returned to Cuba.
RELATED: ELIAN JOINS YOUNG COMMUNISTS
Cuba's President Raul Castro (left) and Elian Gonzalez attend an official event in Havana in 2010. The two appeared together to mark the 10-year annivesary of the politcally charged custody battle.
Gonzalez is now studying industrial engineering and is a military cadet, CNN reported.
RELATED: ELIAN FINE 4 YEARS AFTER: DAD
Gonzalez, who has clearly become a die-hard Cuban nationalist, recently said that his reverance for Castro is boundless. Gonzalez’s image of Castro is an blend of deity and dad.
“Fidel Castro for me is like a father,” Gonzalez recently told a Cuban paper. “I don’t profess to have any religion, but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path.”
Follow me on Twitter: @IrvingDeJohn