In this April 22, 2000 file photo, Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, early Saturday morning, April 22, 2000, in Miami. Armed federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives before dawn Saturday, firing tear gas into an angry crowd as they left the scene with the weeping 6-year-old boy. As the ten year anniversary approaches, almost no one involved in the custody case that once polarized the nation wants to talk about Elian, who is now a teenager back in Cuba.
The now 16-year-old boy said he's not angry at his Miami relatives who fought to keep him in the United States during a nasty international custody battle a decade ago.
And he says he has "thanks to a large part of the American public" that he was reunited with his father in Cuba.
The comments came during an event to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Gonzalez's return.
"Even though they didn't help me in every way possible - they didn't help me move forward - they are still my own family," Gonzalez said of his South Florida relatives, speaking in a shy, almost timid voice.
"I don't have anger for them," he said. "It's only that it wasn't the best effort possible, and thanks to a large part of the American public, and our public, today I'm with my father and I feel happy here."
After hearing the comments, Elian's Miami family members said their shouldn't be any beef, but contradict a few of his statements.
"He doesnt have a grudge against us because we helped him when he needed it the most," said Delfin Gonzalez, Elian's great uncle said. "His father told us to take care of him until he could come to the United States, but the Cuban government got involved and began to create an image that they care about their people, but thats a lie."
But this story doesn't quite have a happy ending.
When asked about the family's Miami relatives, however, Gonzalez's father, Juan Miguel, shot back that he was still angry, "because, at any moment, having the boy there and with me giving them opportunities so they could reunite the family, they let themselves get carried away in other things."
Asked if bringing his son back to him homeland was the right thing to do, Gonzalez said, "Today I'm more sure than I was then."
Gonzalez was a photogenic 5-year-old when a fisherman found him floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day 1999, after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach American soil. Elian's father, who was separated from his mother, had remained on the island.
U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles.
Gonzalez's Miami relatives refused to give him up, while in Cuba, Fidel Castro led marches calling for his return.
Federal agents raided the Little Havana home of Gonzalez's uncle with guns drawn on April 22, 2000, and seized the boy from a closet to return him to his father.