Elian Gonzalez turns 18


Elian Gonzalez during the 10th-anniversary celebration of his return from Miami, on June 30, 2010.


Adalberto Roque

Remember Elian Gonzalez, the 5-year-old Cuban boy who caused a major international incident between Cuba and the United States?

He turns 18 today.

Cuban nightly news broadcast images of Gonzalez, who is studying at the military academy on the island, celebrating with his father in his hometown of Cadenas, reports the AP.

Gonzalez was 5 years old when a fisherman found him floating on a raft off the coast of Florida. He went to live with relatives, but his father claimed Elian's mother had taken him without consent and demanded the boy be returned to Cuba.

U.S. courts agreed, but Elian's relatives refused to relinquish him, so federal agents raided their home and Elian was sent back to Cuba.

Cuba treated him as a hero when he returned, and his father — a restaurant employee — was elected to parliament, reported the AP.

Cuba usually marks his birthday with parades. On Elian's 16th birthday, Cuba released images of Elian attending a Young Communist Union congress.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephaniegarlow