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This Day in History

World History

Saturday, April 22, 2000. :   Six year old Cuban refugee, Elian Gonzalez, is seized by armed federal agents at his relatives' home in Florida.

     Each year, thousands of refugees leave Cuba and attempt to cross to Florida, USA, in unsuitable vessels. Many such attempts result in the deaths of the refugees. In November 1999, a young Cuban mother and ten others died making the crossing, but her six year old son, Elian Gonzalez, together with three other survivors, floated safely in to the Florida coast on an inner tube. The boy, staying with his mother's relatives in Florida, became the centre of an intense custody dispute as his father sought to bring Elian back to Cuba.

On the morning of 22 April 2000, around two dozen US federal agents broke down the door of the house where Elian was staying and seized the boy. The raid was ordered after negotiations failed with Elian's relatives, and crowds gathered outside the house to prevent Elian from being taken. Outrage followed the publication of a photograph showing a terrified Elian and a caretaker hiding in a closet while a masked agent pointed a gun in their direction. Following a series a court hearings, Elian returned to Cuba with his father in June 2000. He is purported to have settled back into life in the small town of Cardenas, in central Cuba.

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