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Especially when a Cuban takes credit for Gore's defeat: I was born in Miami in the mid-Sixties (third generation), and it always irks me when some hyphenated American makes the claim that Miami would be nothing without his presence. As if our city would never have evolved beyond the Stone Age had it not been for his specific immigrant community.
In his letter, Alfredo Garcia writes that it was Cuban Americans who helped turn Miami into a vibrant, thriving city. If vibrant means overpopulated, then I agree. But Garcia wants to be divisive, so let me break it down.
He mentions politics: "[New Times] writers always like to take a shot at the Cuban community [they] hate so much mostly because of our great influence on politics." But it seems most local Cuban politicians are more concerned with a future run for office in a free Cuba than they are with their civic duty here in Miami. Their blatant sellout of local land to developers is a prime example.
Garcia states it was the Cuban community that helped defeat Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race by overwhelmingly voting for Bush. Well, what a big surprise. A Democrat is unlikely ever to claim the Cuban-American vote. The last three Republican presidential victories were supported by at least 80 percent of their vote. It was no different this time around. However, the Cuban-American voting bloc makes up just seven percent of registered voters in Florida. In the 2000 race, the U.S. Supreme Court was a much bigger factor in Bush's victory than any one voting bloc.
Garcia says Al Gore's defeat was revenge for the Elian Gonzalez incident, but that is illogical. Gore was the only Democratic candidate advocating that the child stay in the United States, when most Americans, including Republicans, felt it was simply a case of a father wanting his son back. (See? Family values.)
I will never understand the Cuban-exile loyalty to the Republican Party; I suppose it dates back to the hatred of Kennedy. However, if it weren't for Kennedy, both Cuba and South Florida would have been reduced to a smoldering radioactive ruin. Since that time there have been five Republican presidents. With the exception of Ford, all of them made campaign stops in Miami and repeated the same tiresome promise of bringing freedom to the communist island. So where are the results? Anyone can continue with the failed embargo policy, but how about something unconventional that might actually work?
Democrats have not been able to break the grip of Castro either. But at least they attempted different concepts. Clinton signed the Helms-Burton act, and although it still lacks the teeth required, it was an important first step that George W. Bush could have taken further. Carter allowed more than 125,000 Cuban refugees to enter the United States to escape Castro's dictatorship, and this decision became one of the factors in his 1980 defeat. Not too long ago Carter traveled to Cuba to throw his support behind Oswaldo Payá and the Varela Project, an attempt to peacefully plant the seeds of democracy. Has President Bush even acknowledged Payá and his efforts? If Cuban Americans were not voting Republican in large percentages, this party would not even pay them lip service, which is the case for most other refugee groups in this country.
Most Democrats have come to the realization that Cuban exiles will continue to blindly follow the GOP as they disregard any attempts from the other side to reach out. Democrats can only hope that someday a new generation of Cuban Americans will shed the biased outlook of the past and find the objective truth.