IT isnt just a battle for custody, its more a political drama, a resurrection of the simmering Cold War rivalry between the US and communist Cuba. And its being played over the body of a six-year-old child. On November 25, 1999, which, incidentally, was Thanksgiving Day in the US, Elian Gonzalez was found floating on an inner tube off the Florida coast after the 16-foot motor boat taking him from Cuba sank. Ten passengers, apart from Elians mother, died in this tragic attempt to sneak illegally into the US. Now, five months later, the boy is a figure of global attention as Cuban and US authorities wrangle over who should possess him.
Soon after his rescue, Elian was handed over to his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez in Miamis Little Havana under a temporary custody arrangement granted by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS). This branch of Elians family is part of Floridas politically crucial Cuban-exiles community. The family maintains that since Elians mother died trying to bring the boy into the US, he deserves a chance to grow up in the US. Other Cuban exiles in Miami endorsed this view, and pledged they would not allow the boy to be returned to Cuba.