VIDEO: Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban castaway boy rescued off the coast of Florida in 1999 by a pair of sport fishermen, spoke fondly of Fidel Castro on Saturday, describing the late former Cuban leader as a father figure who became a friend.
Fidel Castro made it his mission to return the young Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba after his mother died while trying to defect to the United States with the young boy.
Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, right, as government officials search the home of Lazaro Gonzalez for the young boy in Miami, April 22, 2000.
PHOTO: Cuban President Fidel Castro puts his hand on the head of Elian Gonzalez, Dec. 6, 2005, in Cardenas Cuba.
Elian Gonzalez is shown here as a young boy accepting a copy of "La Edad de Oro" by Jose Marti, given to him and signed by former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
PHOTO: Elian Gonzalez looks out to the ocean as he tells ABC that he loves the sea and doesn't "see a reason to fear it."
VIDEO: Elian Gonzalez, Now a Grown Man, Discusses Custody Ordeal 15 Years Ago