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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 02:00 GMT 03:00 UK
Elian's Miami home turned into shrine
Elian Gonzalez is taken from his Miami home
Elian was snatched from his home by federal agents
Relatives of Elian Gonzalez - the Cuban boy at the centre of a custody dispute between Cuba and America two years ago - have turned his temporary Miami home into a museum.

Toys, clothes and gifts given to Elian by well-wishers have gone on display, as well as photos of his five-month stay, including a dramatic picture of the moment he was snatched by federal agents.

We wanted... to keep alive the hope that one day Elian will live in freedom

Delfin Gonzalez
The house, in the district of Little Havana, became the focus of the highly politicised legal tussle which ended with Elian being returned to his native island.

"This was an historic case", said Elian's uncle Delfin Gonzalez. "We wanted to keep the memory and to keep alive the hope that one day Elian will live in freedom."

Earlier this year, Cuban leader Fidel Castro opened a museum to the "battle of ideas" in Elian's home town of Cardenas, that recalls Cuba's version of the Elian story.

The house in Miami has been stripped of its furniture and lined with display shelves showing memorabilia of the saga.

Elian rides a go-kart
Many of Elian's toys have gone on display
Elian, then five years old, was rescued off the coast of Florida after being shipwrecked along with his mother, who died while trying to bring him to the United States.

A custody battle ensued and Elian became a cause celebre for Cuban exiles in Miami.

Thousands of expatriates rallied round Elian's family's attempts to keep him in America, while in Cuba, mass demonstrations were held to accuse the US of kidnapping the youngster and demand Elian's return.

The dispute ended after US agents seized Elian in a pre-dawn swoop on the house and the US Supreme Court ruled he should be returned to Cuba with his father.

The door of the bedroom where Elian was snatched by heavily armed agents still bears the holes the boy's relatives say were caused in the raid.

Cuban rally for Elian
Demonstrations for Elian were held in America and Cuba
Elian's bedroom has been preserved, replete with his bed designed to look like a racing car.

His bicycles, pedal car and roller skates are also on show, as well as a poster of Elian which describes him as The Miracle Child.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled former US attorney Janet Reno can be sued for ordering the raid on Elian's home.

Fifty-two plaintiffs are claiming more than $100m, alleging they were beaten and gassed when agents stormed the house.

Since he was returned to Cuba, Elian has lived with his father and stepmother in Cardenas, where he has been kept largely out of public view.

See also:

15 Jul 01 | Americas
Castro opens Elian museum
04 Oct 01 | Americas
Court allows Reno case over Elian
02 Jun 00 | Americas
Cuban anger at court ruling
01 Jun 00 | Americas
Court rejects Elian asylum bid
11 May 00 | Americas
Legal fight over Elian
26 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Elian strike
29 Jun 00 | Americas
Elian's story: Special report
28 Jun 00 | Americas
Analysis: Castro's victory?
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