Alan Diaz, the AP photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for his famous photo of the 6-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez, has died at 71.
He had been freelancing for AP in November 1999 when a boater found the Cuban boy floating in an inner tube in the waters off Fort Lauderdale. Diaz spent the next few months chatting with Gonzalez’s relatives and neighbors, earning their trust by respecting an order from the boy’s uncle to not speak to the child.
Because of those relationships, he was the only photographer to capture the moment when U.S. immigration agents ended a bitter international custody battle with a pre-dawn raid the day before Easter in 2000. The Pulitzer-winning photo shows an armed agent reaching out to toward a terrified Elian, seconds before the boy was pulled out of his uncle’s home so he could be returned to his father in Cuba.