This Miami car dealership operated shorthanded for months, unable to find two desperately needed employees. Then Elian arrived and dealership owner Lombardo Perez, a Cuban American National Foundation director, learned Lazaro Gonzalez lacked a steady income. Perez needed a body worker. Lazaro needed a job. Let's make a deal! For good measure Perez also hired Nivaldo Fernandez, another survivor of Elian's raft. And he treated both men to extremely flexible hours. What luck!
In early January, long before Miami Mayor Joe Carollo promised that his police department would “not participate in taking Elian Gonzalez away from his Miami family to be sent to Castro's hell,” members of the city's SWAT team visited Elian at his temporary home in Little Havana. In a televised gift-giving fete, they presented the smiling child with a black SWAT team shirt. Emblazoned on the chest, fittingly, was a giant white bull's-eye.
Winner: City of Miami zoning code
Cash-strapped Miami has long struggled to maintain order in Little Havana, a neighborhood populated by driveway mechanics, haphazard home repairs, and streets strewn with broken glass. The extent of the lawlessness grows glaringly when one crosses into Coral Gables, where code inspectors act like imams enforcing Sharia law. Yet when Lazaro Gonzalez began erecting a makeshift privacy fence to shield Elian from the world's eyes, Miami swiftly cracked down on his unpermitted construction project. The rule of law, Lazaro, cannot be avoided.
Loser: The MiamiHerald's Elian winners and losers list
What was up with this? Published on the front of the local section on Sunday, July 2, Miami's paper of record advertised its Elian retrospective as “Wins and Losses.” Yet the paper failed to pronounce judgment on any of its 22 listees. For example Lazaro and Marisleysis “will likely remain heroes among Cuban exiles and objects of derision to many others.” How wishy-washy can you get? A much better job was published immediately after the raid by Tony Doris of the Daily Business Review. We've got the stones to say it: He's a winner.