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Photographer Who Took Iconic Elian Image Dies

Alan Diaz was 71
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 4, 2018 4:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Retired Associated Press photojournalist Alan Diaz, whose photo of a terrified 6-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez earned him the Pulitzer Prize, has died. He was 71. Diaz's daughter, Aillette Rodriguez-Diaz, confirmed that he died Tuesday. The cause of death wasn't immediately known. "He was the king of the family," Rodriguez-Diaz tells the AP. "He cared about all of his friends and colleagues. His life was photography and my mother." Diaz's wife, Martha, died nearly two years ago. Diaz's iconic 2000 image shows an armed US immigration agent confronting the boy in the Little Havana home where he lived with relatives after being found floating off the Florida coast. "I have no opinion on it. I shot the moment. That's all," Diaz said of the photo last year. "Good or bad, that's what happened that morning."

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Diaz was born in New York to Cuban parents. He spent his adolescence in Cuba, where he studied photography, and moved to Miami in 1978. The AP hired him as a staff photographer two months after the Elian raid, kicking off a 17-year-career with the wire service. "Alan Diaz captured, in his iconic photographs, some of the most important moments of our generation—the bitter, violent struggle over the fate of a small Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez, the magnified eye of a Florida election official trying to make sense of hanging chads and disputed ballots in the 2000 presidential election," AP executive editor Sally Buzbee says. "He was gravelly-voiced and kindhearted, generous with his expertise. And like all great photographers, he was patient. He was able to wait for the moment." Check out his work in the gallery.

(Read more photojournalist stories.)

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