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Bring back our boy

There's nothing special about this little cafe in Guanabo except for the poster of Elian Gonzalez. Posters and t-shirts demanding Elian's return were all over Cuba. Elian's mother had taken with her in late 1999 on an ill-fated attempt to get to Florida on a small boat. Most of the passengers had drowned when the boat got into trouble during a storm, but Elian and two others had survived. He was placed in the care of family members in Florida, but his father and the Cuban government demanded his return, leading to a diplomatic controversy that was raging during our visit in April 2000. The people were baffled by the stance of the U.S., and the subtleties of U.S. electoral politics as a factor in the Elian struggle were beyond them. There were a variety of fairly wild theories about what was really going on. The best one was that the "Florida Mafia" (Cuban exile community in Miami) knew how much money the government was spending on public demonstrations, and kept the crisis going to weaken Cuba economically.

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