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Miami reunited with Elián 17 years later and in a cinema

The documentary “Elián” has led the Cubans in Miami to rediscover a story that shocked their community 17 years ago and with that five-year-old rafters, whom everyone wanted to protect, become a person who reveres everything they reject .

As Silvia Iriondo, a leader of one of the exile groups, said at the end of the screening, the documentary directed by Tim Golden and Ross Mcdonell shows that those who, like her, objected to having the child returned to her father and to Cuba “did the right thing “.

The time when a twenty-year-old Elian claims he has no religious ideas, but if he had any Fidel Castro would be his god, it was perhaps the one that most impacted the audience that attended a special session in the Tower Theater of Little Havana.

A few streets away is the home of the Gonzalez family, Elian’s uncles, who was taken after two American fishermen rescued him when the truck tire on which his mother left him, before drowning, was About to sink into the Florida Straits.

It was Thanksgiving Day 1999, so Elián was seen as a “miracle” or a divine “gift”, according to many of the people who appear in the powerful archive footage reproduced in the documentary, as well as in interviews Current.

“Elián” parade him and his relatives from Cuba and the United States, as well as Fidel Castro, who took the case personally; The then US President Bill Clinton and those who followed him in the White House, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Also seeing the current president, Donald Trump, speaking of Elian in an act of the Cuban American Foundation and press reports on the last election campaign in which he announces that it will change the policy of opening to Cuba that Obama adopted, something that Has not yet happened.

But, above all, the Cubans on foot, both in Miami and Cuba, appear divided and faced also in the case of Elián.

The then Attorney General Janet Reno, who gave the order to rob the Gonzales house to take the child and give it to her father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who took him with him to Cuba, was considered by the Cubans of Miami a traitor .

There was, however, no clear reaction when she appeared on the screen, as happened every time Elian or her father spoke or as when Fidel Castro’s funeral was seen in Cuba and the party set up in Miami to celebrate his death .

The clapping sounded in the crowded room, reaching that part of the balserito’s story.

After the screening a debate was held in which one of the directors of the film, Tim Golden; Iriondo, Democrat of Cuban origin Joe Garcia and journalist Nancy Acrum, editorial editor of the Miami Herald,

Golden said that Elián’s story needed to be told, because in these 17 years a book and a good film have not been made, and that he and McDonnell wanted to give voice to both sides of the story, thinking that “it would be valuable” to All Cubans, on both sides.

Iriondo, president of the organization Mothers and women against repression (MAR for Cuba), acknowledged that it is a “balanced” film and stressed that it shows that everything was controlled by Fidel Castro and that the Cuban community in Miami “took the position that should Take, “seeing what has happened to that child they all courted.

In his opinion, Elián González, who appears in several scenes always praising Castro and the revolution, shows that his fears were certain that the child would be subjected to intensive indoctrination if he returned to the island.

Elián’s cousin, Marysleisis González, who took care of him in the five months that the child spent in the United States, received a long applause from the audience at the end of the screening, after Iriondo from the stage thanked him for what he did for him.

Perhaps because of the memory of the mobilization and the strong resistance of the Cuban-American community not to take the child in 2000, Miami police protected the cinema during the presentation.

“Elián” was first performed at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and from Friday will be seen at a Miami Beach cinema.

The Miami Film Festival, whose director, Jaie Laplante, moderated the debate, and Miami Dade College organized this special presentation of the documentary.

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