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Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle

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Elian Gonzalez, who was embroiled in a international custody dispute after he was rescued at sea as a boy more than a decade ago, has traveled outside his native Cuba for the first time since being returned by U.S. authorities.

Mr. Gonzalez, who turned 20 on Friday, traveled to Quito, Ecuador, as part of a 200-member Cuban delegation to a weeklong youth conference, CNN reported.

Mr. Gonzalez was 6 when he was found clinging to an inner tube off the coast of Florida. His mother and nine others drowned.

He was placed with relatives in Miami, but his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, successfully fought, with the massive support of then-President Fidel Castro, to have the boy returned to Cuba.

Elian Gonzalez's uncle in Miami refused to give him up, and armed federal agents raided the home and seized the boy, CNN reported.

"Fidel Castro for me is like a father," Mr. Gonzalez said in the recent interview, CNN reported. "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."

Mr. Gonzalez is now a military cadet studying industrial engineering.

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