The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions
Herald staff |
Published: Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

April 22, 2000: Elian Gonzalez seized by SWAT team

On Nov. 25, 1999, Thanksgiving Day, fishermen off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida found a five-year-old boy clinging to an inner tube. His mother and 11 others had drowned while trying to cross into the United States from Cuba.

His name was Elian Gonzalez.

After an overnight hospital stay, he was released into the custody of his uncle and other family members. The Cuban government sent a note on behalf of the boy's father to the U.S. mission in Havana later that day.

Juan Gonzalez wanted his son back.

For the next five months, a custody battle raged between the boy's father and his relatives, between Cuba and the U.S., until April 22, 2000, when a SWAT team of federal agents rushed the home of the boy's Miami relatives with semi-automatic weapons in a predawn raid. He was reunited with his father within hours.

The Herald went to press that morning with a front page that said "SWAT team takes Elian." Here's an excerpt from one of the related stories:

"Crying 'Help me! Help me!' in both English and Spanish, the frightened 6-year-old was hurried from Miami's Little Havana neighborhood in a predawn raid, taken by helicopter to a waiting government jet and flown to Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Washington, D. C., where he was turned over to the long-waiting arms of his father, Juan Gonzalez.

The reunion was warm and emotional, said the father's attorney, Gregory Craig. It followed five months of anxiety and extremely harsh feelings that have consumed the case of the little refugee, whose mother drowned as he was set adrift on an inner tube in the Florida Straits."

It would take another two months before Gonzalez returned to Cuba with his father.

See The Herald's April 22, 2000 edition to read more of this story and others in our collection of historic front pages.

Story tags » History

Subscribe to Daily headlines
See sample | Privacy policy

Most recent Time Travels posts

No recent blog posts for the past 180 days.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

» More local news
HeraldNet Classifieds

HeraldNet highlights

Grab a gourd
Grab a gourd: Most pumpkin farms are opening this weekend
From park to kitchen
From park to kitchen: Produce harvested at demonstration garden given to food bank
A role she can relate to
A role she can relate to: Young deaf Everett actress, 16, stars in ACT's 'Sound'
How to sell a feeling
How to sell a feeling: 'Jedi Realtor’ is a keynote speaker at Everett Fall Home Show