The reviews are in. Alex Penelas's performance last week was a giant flop. Here are excerpts from a few of the newspaper editorials condemning our mayor.
"No public official has been more disappointing than Alex Penelas, the ambitious mayor of Miami-Dade County. Penelas rushed to the front of the mob this week, promising to hold President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno responsible for any violence that occurs if immigration officials try to return Elian to his father in Cuba. In case that incitement of mob violence wasn't direct enough, Penelas also said he would not allow his law enforcement officers to help federal authorities remove Elian from his Miami relatives' home. George Wallace couldn't have said it better 40 years ago."
-- St. Petersburg Times
Read the full text of Tragedy Nears Disgrace
"In challenging the federal government's authority to carry out the laws that maintain control of its borders, Penelas, born of Cuban parents, appears to have forgotten that his allegiance is to the United States. He is fertilizing the seeds of doubt in many Americans' minds regarding the loyalty of immigrants even after the oath of citizenship. He is opening the door to violence in his city when Elian is rightfully returned to his father. If anti-Castro fanatics declare open season on federal officials, Penelas and his confrontational cohorts should be held accountable."
"Alex Penelas ... has exacerbated tensions" and "increases the chances of a confrontation with his irresponsible rhetoric."
"Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas is more than irresponsible in vowing not to cooperate with federal officials ... and in inflaming already white-hot passions. Penelas and others are within their rights to support the uncle in his effort to exhaust all legal remedies, but as leaders as well as defenders of democracy, they must show that they believe in and will uphold the law. Any heroes in this charged and tragic saga will be those able to restore calm and reason, not those who stoke the mob mentality."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
Read the full text of Stunning Recklessness Of Miami's "Leaders"
"... Alex Penelas, the shameless mayor of Miami-Dade County."
"... The mayor, along with Miami city Mayor Joe Carollo, went a long way toward smudging a key distinction between Cuba and the United States -- - that this is a country of law."
-- Washington Post
Read the full text of Elian and His Many Uses
"Apparently it isn't enough that the Cuban exile community in Florida has managed to distort utterly American foreign policy toward a pathetic little island nation and to inflate its pathetic bearded dictator into a 'threat' to U.S. national interests. Now they've got the Miami-Dade County mayor pandering to the point that he sounds almost like an old-time segregationist Southern pol talking about interposition and nullification. Did it ever occur to the mayor that as the duly elected leader of a polity on American soil, he ought to be urging his citizens to obey the law? Instead, he threw gasoline on the fire...."
-- Chicago Tribune
The full text of "Endgame of The Elian Case?" from March 31, 2000, is available at www.chicagotribune.com
"His statement is shameless in its demagoguery."
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-- New Orleans Times-Picayune
The full text of "Demagoguery in Miami" from March 31, 2000, is available at www.nola.com
"One thing that separates the United States from a dictatorship like, say, Cuba is the rule of law. That's why it is so disturbing to hear the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Alex Penelas, sounding like some demented white supremacist defending his patch of mountain top against an invasion by the government's black helicopters. How about a prisoner exchange of sorts? Instead of sending Elian back, let's ship Penelas. Then he could learn firsthand about the brutal consequences when one man places himself above the law and everyone else's rights be damned."
-- San Francisco Examiner