At a youth conference in Ecuador this week, Elian Gonzalez, famous as the focal point of an immigration battle back in 2000, spoke out against the United States' policy on Cuba, which includes a strict embargo that has persisted since the Kennedy administration.

Gonzalez spoke with CNN en Español:

"Just like her [Gonzalez's mother], many others have died attempting to go to the United States. But it's the U.S. government's fault. Their unjust embargo provokes an internal and critical economic situation in Cuba," Gonzalez said.

"But, despite that, Cuba, even with all its problems has progressed over the years. The progress we've made is all thanks to Cuba's courage, our dignity, our continued fight for a more just model."

The comments coincidentally occurred the same day that President Obama did the unthinkable—shaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

The trip to Ecuador was the first trip abroad for Gonzalez since he was taken from relatives in Miami at gunpoint and returned to Cuba 13 years ago. In the intervening period, he mostly kept out of the public sphere, attending a military academy and studying engineering.