The Fight for Elian

Esai Morales in A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story (2000)

When a 5 year old Cuban boy is found floating in raft off of the coast of the U.S. it appears he is a survivor from a refugee boat which sank when it hit a storm. In hospital they discover the boy is Elian Gonzalez (Alec Roberts) the son of Juan Gonzalez (Esai Morales) a proud Cuban who was unaware that his ex-wife was going to sneak him into America. With the authorities temporarily placing Elian with his uncle Lazaro (Miguel Sandoval) who lives in Miami with his family it leads to a custody battle as Lazaro refuses to let him return to Cuba whilst Juan fights for him to come home. With the discovery of Elian in the sea being big news his custody case becomes major news as well as the public are divided over what is best for a young child.

Evidently "A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story" is based on a true story which started in November 1999 when Elian's mother and her boyfriend along with Elian tried to cross the Straits of Florida as refugees. After Elian's discovery there was the legal battle over custody which was played out under the median spotlight with things finally being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of June 2000 as to who should care for Elian. And then roughly 70s days later "A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story" had its TV debut, not unsurprising as these sorts of movies are typically rushed out when the story is still fresh in the public's mind.

The thing is that I have never heard of Elian Gonzales, I found the facts of his story online and sadly this TV movie again seems like a production not made with heart or soul but made to appeal to those who still have the true story fresh in their minds. That isn't to say it isn't interesting and a little entertaining but it doesn't make the story come to life and ends up a walk through of a true story in a basic manner.

What this all boils down to is that maybe back in September 2000 "A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story" entertained an audience because the true story was still fresh it doesn't work so well now and ends up feeling hastily made with little soul although it does bring to light the divide between those who stayed and those who left Cuba.

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