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Elian Gonzalez Joins The Communist Party

The Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union.

Gonzalez drifted into U.S. history on Thanksgiving Day in 1999, a young boy clinging to an inner tube off the Florida coast. His mother and 10 others died trying to reach the U.S. on a raft.

Now 14, Elian was 6 when Miami relatives lost their 4 ½-month fight to keep him in the United States. They argued that his future was much brighter in a free, capitalist America than a closed, communist Cuba. His father Juan Miguel Gonzalez fought just as hard, arguing nothing trumps a father's love and Elian was returned to Cuba in mid-2000.

CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports Elian has spent the past eight years living in Cuba with his father, now a member of the Cuban National Assembly. His "American" home is a museum today. Relatives have moved on and rarely talk to the media.

Cobiella reports that many in south Florida's exile community see the boy's acceptance into the Communist Party as proof he has grown into Fidel Castro's pawn and propaganda tool.

"He's been using Elian as a needle in the side of free democratic loving Cuban exiles," says Cuban-American Marc Smit, "and he's going to continue using that."

Elian was one of 18-thousand young Cubans officially inducted into the party last weekend. The communist youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, quoted the 14-year-old as saying he would never let down ex-President Fidel Castro or his brother, Raul.

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