Commissioners Shakespeare and Botero

"Botero, do you know that guy?"

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During the commission's regular meeting this past January 25, Miami-Dade Commissioner Dorrin Rolle didn't care much about a possible $16 million interest-ree loan to help defray the Carnival Center's construction costs.

No, Rolle had a bigger bone to pick with the center's chief executive Michael Hardy. There were no English speaking performers on opening night.

"I don't know if they were singing about me, for me, or what," Rolle complained. "I just wanted to make sure ... you follow me, and county commissioners are invited... that somebody does some due diligence in singing some songs that a lot of us can understand. I know I am not the only one who doesn't speak Spanish."

Rolle's comments spurred colleague Javier Souto's rambling soliloquy on Celia Cruz; art's ability to soothe the human soul; and the slow speed of democracy. Here is a verbatim transcript of Souto's speech: "Commissioner Rolle this is for you. I think you are right. I was at the inauguration. We missed Celia Cruz. You know if she was there, you know, she was black and Cuban and sang in English and Spanish. Celia, God bless you... Let me tell you what happened to me the other day. [Park and Recreation Department executive assistant Frank] Faragalli and I went to Medellin, Colombia. Medellin! You hear about Medellin and you hear about bums and things. On a park mission we went there[stet]. Well let me tell you, that is the place of Botero. You know the guy Botero? People in Medellin told me when you pump art into the people, violence diminishes. It behooves us to pump a lot of art, a lot of performing arts center stuff, a lot of museums -- Is [Cultural Affairs Department director] Michael Spring here? -- a lot of all that stuff [stet] because it will diminish violence. Do we have violence here? Of course we have violence. We have a lot of violence in this town. You know that. We need to reduce that...The process is very slow. So be it. It is the democratic process. If not, let's go into communism, into Hitler, into something else. Those are very quick. Stalin was very quick. Hitler was very quick. Chavez in Venezuela was very quick. Castro in Cuba was very quick. They just do things quickly. That's it, you know. There is no democracy there."

Francisco Alvarado

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