Remember Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old Cuban boy was seized by immigration officials and forcibly sent back to Cuba in 2000?
After fifteen years back in Cuba, it turns out he still dreams of America.
In a recent interview with ABC News–his first in a decade–the now-21-year-old Gonzalez was asked: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
His answer? The United States of America.
He said he’d love to see a baseball game, visit the museums in Washington, D.C., and–most importantly–thank the American people for everything they did for him.
“I want the time to give my love to the American people… We always have the desire to say to the American people, to say to each household our gratitude, appreciation, and love… [I wish] I could personally thank those people who helped us, who were there by our side. Because we’re so grateful for what they did.”
Gonzalez’s story first made headlines in 1999–when he was found on a raft from Cuba. His mother, who had drowned during the trip, ultimately gave her life to get her child a better one in America. Gonzalez was initially placed with relatives in Miami, until a U.S. court finally ruled that he would have to return to Cuba, where his father was waiting.
The gut-wrenching images that appeared in many newspapers and magazines–the U.S. immigration officers taking the crying six-year-old out of his relatives’ house at gunpoint in July 2000–represent the last time Gonzalez set foot on American soil.
Gonzalez is currently studying engineering and is engaged to a fellow student.
ABC News producers also helped Gonzalez and his fiancee take their first selfie–which he plans on uploading to Facebook, when his hometown gets strong enough internet to make a profile.