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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On November 25, 1999, it was Thanksgiving Day and a small Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez was rescued at sea after losing his mother in a deadly journey across the Florida Straits.

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November 25, 2016, exactly 17-years-later to the day, Fidel Castro, who was at the center of the international custody battle, has died.

Little Elian was rescued by a pair of sport fisherman off the coast of South Florida. Elian’s relatives in Miami fought to keep him in the U.S. while his father, with Fidel Castro’s staunch support, demanded his return.

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After a lengthy legal battle and a middle of the night raid on Elian’s relatives’ house in Miami, the boy was sent home in June, 2000.

In 2005, he told CBS’ “60 Minutes” he saw Castro as a “father”.

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Elian is now 23 years old and lives out of the public eye.