Gonzalez, now 21 and in college, said in an interview with ABC News aired Monday that, if he could visit anywhere in the world, it would be the United States to see a baseball game and visit museums in Washington as a tourist.
“To the American people, first, I say thank you for the love they give me,” Gonzalez told ABC News. “I want the time to give my love to American people.”
Gonzalez became a flashpoint in U.S.-Cuba relations, when he was found clinging to an inner tube off the coast of Florida. A raft he was traveling on with his mother and others from Cuba for the U.S. had capsized, drowning her and nearly a dozen others.
He was brought to Florida and placed in the care of maternal relatives in Miami, sparking a months-long custody battle between Washington and Havana, which sought to return him to his father in Cuba.
U.S. federal agents eventually stormed his uncle’s home in Miami to take custody of Gonzalez and return him to Cuba. Gonzalez was famously seen in a 2000 photo looking frightened at gunpoint during the raid.
The U.S. has loosened travel restrictions to Cuba and has spent months working to establish an embassy there, after President Obama announced in December that the two nations would work to normalize relations after more than five decades.