By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
*(Fr.) a fixed ideal; obsession.
Morning in the Subtropics
A new development in local presidential politics emerged last week on the sidewalk outside the Versailles restaurant in the photogenic persona of 62-year-old Santiago Portal, who is president and founder of the 11-week-old, virtually microscopic Peace Justice Progress Party. His picket sign read: "No Kerry. No Bush. A Cuban for President Now."
What's wrong with Bush? "Bush doesn't have any plan for governing," Portal complained. And what's wrong with the junior senator from Massachusetts? "The problem with Kerry is the same," he submitted.
But don't think that Portal, an adiabatic engineer who is trying to invent a motor powered by water and water pressure, is the rare exile who praises Fidel Castro. Like many Cuban Americans, the inventor was an early Castro supporter until el comandante's obsession with Marxist-Leninism took hold after the 1959 ouster of the Batista regime. Today he has a different issue with Fidel: "The problem with Castro is that Castro is an official of the government of the United States."
Portal says the PJP doesn't have a candidate yet but is currently accepting applications for that position. Candidates for candidate should familiarize themselves with the PJP platform. Among its 24 planks are:
1. Eliminate taxes paid by retirees.
2. A comprehensive insurance plan for everybody.
3. Minimum wage: $7 per hour.
4. Two weeks vacation for everybody.
5. A 50 percent discount in gas for owners of four-cylinder cars.
6. Prison without bail for negligent parents.
7. Total elimination of drug traffickers.
8. Eliminate the power of all child abusers.
9. Televised trials of corrupt police officers.
10. People who are not born in the United States can be president.
11. The White House should be in Miami.
12. Immediate naval and aerial blockage against the Castro-communist regime.
"This movement has shark's teeth," Portal warned.
Some political watchdogs might have missed Portal's manifesto unveiling while their attention was on a press conference inside Versailles. There, Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez said the Democratic Party is attracting many new, friendly Latin members. As evidence he noted that listeners respond to him differently when he does radio guest spots. "I used to get cremated. Not anymore," he assured. Then ubiquitous pollster Sergio Bendixen presented some new data that held both bad and good news for Democrats. "We're not going to get the Hispanic vote in Miami-Dade County," he declared. "But we're going to win enough of it for Kerry to win Florida."
Observing While Black
King Downing, the man in charge of the American Civil Liberties Union's national racial-profiling awareness campaign, came to Miami Beach for Memorial Day weekend to assess the city's tension level as police and mostly young, black revelers met in the streets amid allegations of hip-hop surveillance and hostility from cops toward partiers.
The 51-year-old Downing, who is African American, was promptly arrested.
"It's a perfectly ironic situation," says Downing's local attorney (and occasional Bitch tormentor), John De Leon. "He's one of the foremost profiling experts in the country."
Downing was on the phone with Terry Coble, president of the local ACLU chapter, when police arrested him early on the morning of Tuesday, June 1. Downing was observing an arrest on Ocean Drive, standing about 50 yards from the officers, talking on his cell phone and taking notes. "He was surrounded by a group of police and told to clear the area," DeLeon says. Coble, on the other end of the phone, heard Downing arguing with the police, saying, "I'm a reasonable distance away."
Downing says the officers threatened to break his wrist if he didn't comply with their orders. He was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest without violence. But doesn't someone have to be doing something worth getting arrested for in order to resist arrest in the first place?
Police reports give a little context to the situation: Officers were called to Ocean Drive to break up a fight. Michael Zelaya of Pembroke Pines, who was involved in the fight, broke away from the group and ran from the police. In his unsuccessful escape attempt he forearmed a police officer, who was knocked off her bicycle and injured. Downing was watching police arrest Zelaya when the cops told him he was standing in the crime scene -- none of the police documentation says where Downing was standing.
Murder in Coconut Grove
Defense attorneys for Anthony Lee, the man accused of gunning down Coconut Grove businessman and socialite José Calvo in Calvo's driveway in September 2003, say a ballistics report from the Miami-Dade Police Department crime lab bolsters their theory that Calvo's wife Denise was the killer, not Lee. Since the shooting, police have recovered only one gun fired in the incident: a .38-caliber Colt revolver Denise told police she emptied at Lee while he fled. A DNA analysis found Lee's blood in the stolen 1989 blue Honda Civic hatchback that served as his getaway car. But detectives have only one spent bullet in their possession. They got that from Denise's father, Michael Caligiuri, two months after the shooting. Caligiuri said he found the projectile on a windowsill inside the Calvos' garage. (The feds called Caligiuri a member of the Gambino crime family while he was a fugitive for nine years; he eventually served five years in prison for racketeering and cocaine possession with intent to distribute.)