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KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee professor of Latin American studies says the Elian Gonzalez case shows that US-cuban political relationships have improved little in 40 years.

Dr. Todd Diacon says the case is a prime example of how Cold War grudges between the United States and Cuba are still going strong.

“You could not find an better example than the Elian Gonzalez case to show the rhetoric and tension that has shaped U.S.-Cuban relationships for the past 40 years,” Diacon said.

“It happens to be over Elian now. In the past it has been over Cuban troops in Africa, Cuban support of revolutionary movements in Latin America, or other incidents, but the rhetoric is the same.”

Although the Clinton administration and Cuba’s communist government have shown cooperation on Elian’s circumstances, Diacon says the discussions have contained codewords that have been a familiar part of the U.S.-Cuban government dialog.

“On the U.S. side are certain codewords such as communism, freedom and oppression; on the Cuban side are codewords like exploitation and imperialism,” Diacon said.

“Those words are seen extensively throughout the Elian Gonzalez case, but they have been applied to many other historical events in these countries’ relationship.”

The six-year old Cuban boy was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean on Thanksgiving Day. Miama relatives wanted to keep him in the United States but government officials sought to return him to his father in Cuba.

U.S. federal agents seized the boy Saturday from relatives’ home and transferred custody of Elian to his father.