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Divisive Battle Over Elián González Reverberates on a Miami Stage


By NY Times
Elián González, the little Cuban boy at the center of a new play bearing his name, never appears onstage. Instead, audiences hear the sound of a child’s high-pitched giggle, a haunting echo of the events that, more than two decades ago, ripped Miami apart and riveted the nation. The lone survivor after a storm capsized the small boat carrying his mother and 11 others fleeing Cuba, Elián was the center of a monthslong custody battle — his father and the dictator Fidel Castro on one side, Miami relatives and Cuban exiles on the other — that became a proxy for a larger political struggle. After U.S. immigration agents launched a pre-dawn raid in Little Havana to reunite the boy with his father, who ultimately brought him back to Cuba, outraged opponents protested in the streets. For years, the story’s enduring image has been the dramatic photograph of a terrified 6-year-old boy, cornered by an armed federal agent. Miami New Drama now hopes to broaden that portrait with “Elián,” by the Cuban American playwright Rogelio Martinez, which examines the pain, rage, confusion and division that still resonates in a city filled with immigrants. “Elian was a pivotal event,” said Michel Hausmann, who directed the play and is Miami New Drama’s artistic director. “Let people get upset, let them argue. I think it’s part of our duty as artists.”
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