Page last updated at 05:16 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 06:16 UK

Elian 'joins Cuba's communists'

Elian Gonzalez in Havana, Cuba, 14 June 2008
Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba with his father in mid-2000

Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the centre of an international custody battle eight years ago, has reportedly joined Cuba's Young Communist Union.

He was quoted by Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.

Elian, now 14, was six when relatives in Miami lost their battle to keep him in the US.

He was returned to Cuba in mid-2000 with his father.

Juventud Rebelde said in its Sunday edition the boy was among 18,000 people who joined the Young Communist Union on Saturday.

Elian was found floating alone in the Florida Straits in late 1999, one of the few survivors from a group of shipwrecked Cubans who had tried to reach the US in a handmade boat.

His mother was among those who died when the fragile craft hit a storm.

A bitter custody battle ensued between his relatives in Miami, backed by the anti-Castro Cuban American community there, and his father, supported by the Cuban government.

The US courts got involved, eventually ruling in favour of Elian's father and the boy was returned to Cuba.

Correspondents say the Cuban government carefully guards Elian's privacy.

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