Cuban castaway boy says thanks a decade on

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The Independent US

Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban castaway boy who became the object of an international custody battle a decade ago in Miami, has said he was happy he ended up back in Cuba. But, in his first public comments in several years, he added he had no hard feelings toward his relatives in Miami who fought to keep him there.

"This is the place I belong. Here I feel good," the 16-year-old said after a Havana church service commemorating the tenth anniversary of his return."Today I'm with my father, and that is everything." Elian was a photogenic five-year-old when he was found floating on an inner tube of a tyre off the Florida coast in November 1999. His mother died on the 90-mile voyage to the USA. He was controversially repatriated the following June.

During this week's service, President Raul Castro sat next to Elian, who has joined the Communist Party and is training to join the Cuban military.