There are a few nonnegotiable rules of doing big business in Miami: Speak at least a little Spanish. Learn to enjoy cigars. Never speak ill of the Estefans. And — this one is important — do not, under any circumstances, reveal your admiration for Fidel Castro or Che Guevara.
Marcelo Claure, David Beckham's business partner, in trying to bring an MLS franchise to Miami-Dade County, failed that last test big time yesterday when he tweeted a photo of the famed Che sculpture that beams over Havana's Plaza of the Revolution.
After being assailed by Cuban-American politicos for hours, he promptly apologized.
I just deleted the picture I posted earlier while traveling in Cuba. My sincere apologies if I offended anyone. No harm intended.— MarceloClaure (@marceloclaure) November 2, 2015
Claure, a Bolivian magnate who is now CEO of Sprint, has partnered with Beckham to try to bring top-level pro soccer to Miami. The pair is deep in negotiations with the city and county for a deal to build a stadium next to Marlins Park in Little Havana.
The exec spent this past weekend in Havana, though, where his trouble began around 6:30 p.m. yesterday. That's when he tweeted a photo of the famed Che statue and wrote, "Hola Cuba. Happy to be here in La Havana, Cuba."
Miami politicians were not amused.
@marceloclaure You have a leadership role in SoFla. I don't recommend tweeting images glorifying Duvalier, Trujillo & other murderers either— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) November 2, 2015
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But within a few hours,
It's worth adding a little context to the controversy, though.
And opinion in Miami might not quite be as universal as its politicians make it seem: A few years ago, a New Times editor tried to peddle Che T-shirts around Dadeland Mall to see how local shoppers reacted and found indifference was the order of the day.
But then again, the rules are different when you're knee-deep in selling the county government on a new tax-exempt stadium deal. Time to go back to Miami-Dade business school, Marcelo.