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Little Havana Doesn't Trust Miami Marlins

Luis Montealegre poured a café

Cubano on Tuesday, paid a delivery guy for croquetas, and peered east a few blocks from his corner cafeteria. There

was only blue sky where a $634 million Marlins baseball stadium will soon rise.

"This is the poorest part of the city, the one that needs the most help," said the

handsome 44-year-old in Spanish with a Nicaraguan lilt. "I love baseball, but

this stadium won't help anybody here. It 'll do nothing for the middle class."  
After 15 years of blather, first Miami, then Miami-Dade

commissioners this week ponied up their parts of the new $634 million stadium

on the old Orange Bowl site. Calling it "our own stimulus package," they raised

the possibility of spending even more. Eloquent opponents like Miami-Dade's

Carlos Gimenez and Katy Sorenson, as well as Miami's Marc Sarnoff, were mowed

down like summer grass.

The morning after the vote, though, the heavily Latin

neighborhood around the site was underwhelmed. Riptide questioned about two

dozen shop owners and others. Almost none spoke English fluently. Some came from

baseball-loving countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and

Venezuela.  Others were born in Honduras,

Colombia, and Argentina where Abner Doubleday's invention - at least for now - is

no big deal.

All but one or two predictedel

estimulo won't stimulate anything.

 "They'll sell things in

the stadium, not outside."

"This area will never change. The stadium is window dressing."

"It's politics. It's mierda."

Four Honduran construction workers who live opposite the site

criticized the stadium in machine-gun fashion. All were fathers. All would like

to see basketball courts parks, playgrounds, and baseball diamonds for their

kids.  None expected to get a job on the

stadium even though 50 percent of the work is guaranteed to locals.  Why? Well, two don't have work permits. The

others have lived here long enough to get it. "It's too much money," says Luis

Alberto Padilla, a 32 year old who's been in this country for 14 years. "We,

the people who pay for this, will never get back what we invested."     

 



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