US

The Latest: Elian Gonzalez says Castro will be with Cubans

  • A couple of residents stand framed by a window of their house next to an image of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and a Cuban Flag in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of U.S. presidents during his half century rule, died at age 90.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

    A couple of residents stand framed by a window of their house next to an image of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and a Cuban Flag in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of U.S. presidents during his half century rule, died at age 90.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman sits in the doorway of her home, decorated with a Cuban flag in honor of the late Fidel Castro in the town of Regla on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Cuba will observe nine days of mourning for the former president who ruled Cuba for half a century.  (AP Photo/Enric Marti)

    A woman sits in the doorway of her home, decorated with a Cuban flag in honor of the late Fidel Castro in the town of Regla on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Cuba will observe nine days of mourning for the former president who ruled Cuba for half a century. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)  (The Associated Press)

The latest on the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (all times local):

11 a.m.

The Cuban who as a boy survived a shipwreck and became the center of an international custody battle in Florida in 2000 says Fidel Castro will still be with Cubans even after his death.

Elian Gonzalez says in an interview with Cuban state television that it's "not right to talk about Fidel in the past tense ... but rather that Fidel will be." He says Castro "is the present and the future."

Gonzalez said Sunday that Castro was a friend to his family at a difficult moment and made it possible for him to return to Cuba and be reunited with his father.

Gonzalez was a young boy when he, his mother and others attempted the sea crossing between Cuba and Florida nearly two decades ago. His mother drowned on the voyage, but he survived and was taken to Florida.

A bitter dispute broke out between his relatives in the United States, who wanted him to stay there, and his father back home in Cuba.

Castro made the issue a national cause and led huge demonstrations demanding the boy be returned to his father. U.S. authorities eventually sent Gonzalez back.