Elian Gonzalez, whose rescue at sea on Thanksgiving Day 1999 when he was 5 years old set off an international custody battle, was nominated to become a lawmaker in the Cuban National Assembly Monday.
Mr. Gonzalez had been a passenger on a small craft fleeing Cuba along with his mother, Elizabeth Brotons. While Brotons would drown in the passage, Elian was found by fishermen and brought ashore to the U.S. where he entered the custody of relatives, Cuban exiles living in Miami.
Mr. Gonzalez’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, had other plans, pressing for custody and the boy’s return to Cuba with the help of Cuba’s communist authorities.
After a monthslong legal battle between Mr. Gonzalez’s father and relatives, American immigration officials raided their Miami home to recover Elian, who was subsequently reunited with his father.
After a few more weeks passed, during which Mr. Gonzalez’s Miami relatives exhausted their judicial appeals to maintain custody and keep him in America, Elian and his father returned to Cuba in June 2000.
While he wishes to reconcile with his Miami relatives, Mr. Gonzalez, 29, remains a partisan of the communist Cuban government that brought him back home.
“Living here is a debt I owe to the Cuban people. That’s who I will always work and fight for,” Mr. Gonzalez told CNN in a 2017 interview.
The Cuban government is just as effusive about Mr. Gonzalez. Granma, the official press organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, wrote that Mr. Gonzalez was the “protagonist of an episode that moved the homeland and the world, and representative of the most valuable of Cuban youth.”
Over two decades after his return to Cuba, Mr. Gonzalez has been nominated to serve as a lawmaker in the Cuban National Assembly, one of 470 candidates from across the island nation made eligible Monday for the 2023 Cuban elections on March 26.
If elected, he would represent his home district of Cardenas in the province of Matanzas.
Mr. Gonzalez, an industrial engineer by trade, works as assistant director of the AT Comercial Varadero company.