MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle five years ago, calls Cuban President Fidel Castro his friend and says he hopes someday to see his Miami family again.

"Despite everything they did, it was wrong, they are (still) my family ... my uncles," the boy said in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes." Excerpts were released Thursday for the program that airs Sunday night.

Elian, now 11, set off a seven-month custody battle after he was rescued off the Florida coast in 1999 during a failed attempt to reach the United States. His mother died at sea, and his Miami relatives and Cuban exile groups fought to prevent his return to Cuba.

The boy was reunited with his father in Cuba -- his legal guardian -- after an armed federal raid April 22, 2000, on his relatives' home. Since then Elian has been treated as a hero in Cuba; Castro had him give a highly publicized speech on the fifth anniversary of the Miami raid.

The boy in the interview said he considers Castro "not only as a friend, but also as a father."


So glad he is doing well! I always wondered what happened to him once he was returned to Cuba.