The Decline of Cuban Power in Miami

C. Stiles

Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto tried to persuade his colleagues to derail an airport development project last week. The reason: The firm involved has business ties to Cuba.

But the Bay of Pigs veteran and former state senator accomplished something very different. He showed he's a filthy bigot.

"The Latins here pay more taxes per capita than anybody else," Souto said. "And out of the Latin people, the prevalent community is the Cuban community. If you don't know that, you don't know where you're living." Miami is where it is today, he added, "because of the Cubans who came here."

Those comments prompted this response from Commissioner Dennis Moss: "That's part of what's wrong with Miami-Dade County. We're not about fairness. We're about power and money." Moss also noted, "Black folks built this community. To simply say that, well, Latins came to this town and all of a sudden this town is what it is — I resent that. My ancestors were helping build this county while other people were other places."

Indeed, Souto needs to bone up on his black history. Bahamians flocked to Miami in the early 1900s, and one of them, Dana Dorsey, was South Florida's first multimillionaire African-American developer.

A recent Atlantic Council poll shows Floridians and Miamians favor lifting the embargo on Cuba by 63 percent and 64 percent, respectively. And 52 percent of Republicans (Souto's constituents) now want normalization.

Cuban-Americans no longer represent the majority Hispanic voting bloc in Florida. Voters of Puerto Rican, Mexican, and other Hispanic origins represent two-thirds of the Latino electorate. Cubans are only a third.

Souto is the last of a dying breed of divisive politicians such as former county commissioners Natacha Seijas and Miriam Alonso, who tanked her chance to become Miami mayor in the '90s after declaring on Spanish radio that the seat belonged to the Cubans. Some members of this older generation stayed in power by spreading hate and separation among Miami-Dade's diverse ethnic groups.

Before, the only way to remove them from office was by indictment (Alonso) or recall (Seijas). Let's hope Souto won't follow the same route.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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