By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Those incomparable, indefatigable (and sometimes incorrigible) Odios!
Last month, when the U.S. Attorney's Office bagged then-Miami City Manager Cesar Odio on corruption charges, a groundswell of indignation rose from the community. The radio airwaves fairly crackled with outrage at the injustice. Defense fund machinery was quickly cranked up, with promises of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal aid. But perhaps nowhere was the surge of support more in evidence than at Odio's initial court appearance, where he was surrounded by a phalanx of relatives.
They stood stoically while Odio angrily asserted his innocence. They collectively shouted down the questions of presumptuous reporters. "Don't believe everything you read!" roared Odio's brother Javier when someone asked Cesar whether he was wearing the $4000 watch the FBI alleged he wanted to purchase with dirty money.
The message was clear: No matter how tough the days ahead might prove to be, those nearest and dearest to Odio would be there every step of the way to see him through.
We here at New Times have quite a soft spot in our journalistic hearts when it comes to family unity. Still, such a prodigious outpouring -- there must have been two dozen brothers, sisters, children, uncles, and in-laws at that courthouse! -- left us with just one question: Who in the heck are all these Odios? And if there's one thing that tickles us more than family values, it's an unanswered question. So, figuring that we'll all be seeing a lot of this uncommonly loyal bunch in the coming months, we set out to chart the Odio clan.
Setting a goal of tracking the entire Odio lineage would be unrealistic, for several reasons. For one thing, the family is huge. Amador Odio, Cesar's father, sired ten children. By the time he died in 1991, there were also twenty-eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren; the offspring are scattered across several states and foreign countries and carry a bewildering array of married names, maiden names, and (in a few instances) creative aliases.
In assembling this abridged list, we looked to obituaries and civil and criminal lawsuits, not to mention the final report of the Warren Commission. We talked to current and former city employees, as well as developers who did business with the city during Cesar Odio's nearly eleven-year reign as manager. Even considering the obstacles, the resulting family tree was so broadly limbed that for space reasons we pruned anyone we figured wouldn't be of interest to our readership. Three of Cesar's sisters and two of his children, for example, failed to make the cut. We did, however, try to make room for everyone whose adventures had done the Odio name proud -- and, of course, for those whose misadventures appeared to have afflicted the family tree with a touch of Dutch Elm disease.
So pay close attention, info junkies. You're holding in your hands the key to the most interesting political family to have hit the headlines in Miami in . . . oh, a year at the very least.
Before arriving in Miami in 1967, Cesar Odio's mother (1) Sara spent six years in a Cuban women's prison for her political activities. In a twist on house arrest, part of her sentence was served in her own home, which had been converted into a jail by Fidel Castro.
The family matriarch wields considerable power in the City of Miami. In an interview on WQBA-AM (1140) last year, Cesar Odio told host Marta Flores that his 82-year-old mother knows more about Miami than he does. That's probably not an exaggeration. Top city staffers have confided to us that Sara often called to monitor their work or lobby for a program her son wanted to implement; a developer told of seeking a zoning change and feeling compelled to leapfrog Cesar and plead for the variance directly with Sara. Such clout apparently came with perks: A former city staffer says she routinely used a city car to chauffeur Sara to the beauty parlor, the bank, and the drugstore -- on city time.
Joining Sara on the rolls of Cuban political prisoners was (2) Amador Odio, Sr., her late husband and Cesar's father. Amador ran what is popularly described as Cuba's most successful transportation company. He was also great friends with Carlos Prio Socarras, the allegedly corrupt leader who was overthrown by Fulgencio Batista. Soon after that 1952 coup, Amador escaped to Guatemala with Cesar. They returned to Cuba two years later, and Amador supported the early days of Castro's revolution. Doubtless his backing came to an end sometime before Castro sentenced him to 30 years in jail for his political activities.
With both parents incarcerated, the task of raising the family was left to (3) Cesar, who by then had fled to Miami. The eldest Odio offspring was busy enough, first helping to manage Maurice Ferre's family concrete empire, Maule Industries (which went bankrupt), and then founding his own company, Trans Florida Truck Lines (which also went bankrupt). Given access to public money when then-Miami Mayor Ferre had him hired as an assistant city manager in 1980, Cesar began moving into position to steer Miami toward what Police Chief Donald Warshaw now calls "the worst financial crisis in the city's 100-year history."