This video installation for three monitors tells the story of Elián González, the little boy rescued from the waters of the Florida Straits in 1999 by the United States Coast Guard. His mother had drowned during their attempt to flee Cuba, and his father had stayed behind on the island. This story generated extraordinary media interest and diplomatic repercussions: public opinion and political policy were divided on the question of whether or not the child should be returned to his father in Cuba. The affair culminated in a decision by the U.S. Attorney General to return the child to his homeland.
With the framework of a famous children’s book by the Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí, La Edad de Oro [The Golden Age], the film narrates this episode in the Cuban-American stand-off from both sides of the Elían story, as told by media coverage – in print and on television – of the event in the United States and in Cuba, setting up two contradictory, but parallel visions of a single story. The artists then “rewind” the film and send it back in time, revealing in a barrage of documentation the historical roots of the conflict between the United States and Cuba – the Marielitos, the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, and so forth – in an immemorial dialectic. Under the guise of media coverage of little Elián’s adventure, we glimpse the complex forces of History at work.