By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press – June 28, 2000
HAVANA (AP) _ Seven months after he was cast adrift in the Florida Straits, Elian Gonzalez returned to his native Cuba Wednesday evening, bringing to a close an international custody battle that stirred Cold War passions.
After a three-hour journey from Washington, Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, lifted the 6-year-old boy down the plane’s staircase to the tarmac in Havana, where they were embraced by Elian’s tearful grandmothers and other relatives.
“Elian! Elian! Elian!” chanted about 800 children from the first-grader’s elementary school, waving small red, white and blue Cuban flags in the celebration at the small Jose Marti Airport. They sang along as a military band struck up Cuba’s national anthem.