On November 25, 1999, a U.S. child custody case became an international incident. On that day, six-year-old Elian Gonzalez and two other Cuban refugees were pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean by a couple of fishermen. Elian's mother and nine others had drowned when their boat capsized, and the three survivors were turned over to the Coast Guard, then the INS, who gave temporary custody of the boy to relatives in Miami.
When Elian's father learned of the rescue, he promptly called for his son's return to Cuba, saying the mother took the boy off the island without his knowledge. But Elian's cousins in Florida wanted to keep the child, and sought support from the courts and Florida's Castro-hostile politicians. Spain's foreign minister weighed in, arguing that holding the boy in the states violated international law. Public opinion polls showed most Americans favored Elian's repatriation.
After seven months of this drama, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the boy be sent back to Cuba, but the Miami relatives refused to hand him over. Then early one morning, the INS and Border Patrol raided the home where Elian was staying and forcibly removed him; taking him to Andrews Air Force Base where he was reunited with his father.
Upon his return to Cuba, Elian was given a hero's welcome. A few years later he joined the communist youth group and later, the military. He's still considered a hero in his country.