Miami mayoral candidate Tomas Regalado once raised cash for a terrorist

Tenacity. Vision. Honesty.

Tomas Regalado seems pretty upfront about his core values. Those three words are printed in bold atop hundreds of blue-and-red billboards and bus ads proclaiming his run for mayor of Miami.

So why won't he admit he once helped raise thousands of dollars for a convicted terrorist?

The record seems pretty clear-cut. It's right there in a 1983 Miami Herald headline: "$21,000 Raised for Alleged Terrorist." In the third paragraph, Regalado proudly proclaims his radio station — WRHC (1550 AM), where he worked as news director — pulled in thousands with an on-air pledge drive.

The cash went to a fund to pay for the legal defense of a guy named Eduardo Arocena. Ring a bell? Arocena is only the most notorious Cuban terrorist ever prosecuted in the United States.

The Miami dockworker was convicted in 1984 of igniting 32 bombs from Little Havana to Times Square. Once, in 1975, he set off a little beauty at Lincoln Center because a Cuban ensemble was scheduled to play there. In 1979, Arocena's goons machine-gunned a New Jersey political activist to death in front of his 13-year-old son. The terrorist is serving consecutive life sentences for his crimes.

And Regalado apparently thought the guy was pretty swell, at least back in 1983. Not that he'll admit it today.

"Commissioner Regalado has never planned or held a fundraiser for Mr. Arocena," says Eric Duran, a spokesman for Miami's longest-serving commissioner, who was first elected in 1996.

Huh? Just in case the Herald went all Jayson Blair with its 1983 dispatch, New Times talked to Dionisio de la Torre, who leads a loose coalition of more than 45 Cuban groups that collected petitions last year asking then-President George W. Bush to pardon Arocena.

"Regalado has shown he's a supporter of Arocena," de la Torre says. "Just about two months ago, someone mentioned Arocena on his radio show and [Regalado] said he thinks he's served more than enough time in jail."

In a town where noted anti-Castro terrorists Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles are still walking free — and hailed as heroes by some — it's not as if supporting Arocena would cost Regalado too many votes.

So why not fess up, commish?

 
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