Read this story in English in the Miami Herald.

From the passenger seat of a Mercedes-Benz in the heart of the Cuban exile community in the United States, George Marrero explained Saturday why he would not vote again for President Donald Trump.

« This country has been abused for the past four years, » said retired Coral Gables police officer as he awaited the start of a caravan of Cubans with Biden in the mostly Cuban city of Hialeah. « [El candidato presidencial demócrata] Joe Biden is going to bring back, as he said, the soul of America. Has been lost ».

Amid evidence that Trump has significantly broadened his support among Miami-Dade’s traditionally conservative Cuban exile community, a counter-movement is underway to demonstrate that there are thousands of Cuban-Americans in Florida who believe the president does not take into account your interests.

Prominent exiled exiles like Al Cárdenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, have criticized Trump’s authoritarian streak. Last week, Luis Santeiro, the Cuban-American writer who wrote ¿Qué Pasa, USA? —The groundbreaking comedy of the 1970s that takes place in the Cuban-American scene of Miami— wrote in an article and opinion in the Miami Herald that “when we label someone with whom we disagree as a communist, fidelista or reactionary, we only we echo the intransigence of the regime from which we are fleeing ”.

And while Republican Cubans continue to maintain the strongest presence in Miami’s influential Spanish-language media and political hierarchy, Democratic activists are hosting events like Saturday’s pro-Biden caravan from Hialeah to Little Havana to give voice to those whose views differ from the majority.

“Traditionally, the Cuban community has been republican. And the Trump campaign has done a great job stoking fears of socialism and communism in our community, ”said Mike Rivero, one of the organizers of Saturday’s caravan, in an interview. “Enough already. They are not going to manipulate us ”.

Saturday’s caravan, which according to Rivero, 30, involved about 200 vehicles, was one of several pro-Biden activities in Miami this weekend. Other caravans – the mass political activity of choice amid the pandemic – showed support for Biden from Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans, all crucial segments of the coalition of non-Cuban Hispanic voters that Biden needs to defeat Trump in Florida.

Support for Trump among Cuban Americans is stronger and louder. The huge pro-Trump political parades began months ago and continued Sunday with another caravan, also in Hialeah. Trump has also repeatedly courted exile communities in Miami, visiting the city several times to talk about crushing socialism and criticizing the policies of the Obama and Biden administrations on Cuba. At this time, the president is studying the possibility of nominating Federal Judge Barbara Lagoa to the Supreme Court, replacing the recently deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But while few expect Biden to win the Cuban vote in Florida, strategists believe he must compete with Trump to win over more Cuban-Americans like Marrero, who told the Miami Herald that he registered as a Democrat for the first time this year after being registered. as a Republican or nonpartisan.

“There is a mentality that all Cubans or Latinos are Republicans. But there are many who are not, ”said the retired police officer, in a sedan adorned with pro-Biden posters and a Ginsburg memorial sign. “I voted for Trump in 2016 because I didn’t like Hillary Clinton and her policies. Shortly after this guy came to the office, his true self came out. « 

Around Marrero, as the caravan prepared to leave, the drivers honked their horns. Someone tapped an egg beater against a plastic container, mimicking the unmistakable sound of spoons hitting pots and pans, a familiar form of celebration, and protest, in Hispanic communities. Daniela Ferrera, a 22-year-old activist and political organizer, nodded at the scale of pro-Biden activity « in the heart of what is considered a strongly Republican city. »

Hialeah is a Republican stronghold where more than half of the 240,000 inhabitants are Cuban. It is a place where Democrats have not successfully challenged conservative politicians and it is where County Commissioner Steve Bovo lives, a pro-Trump candidate for mayor of Miami-Dade and whose father was involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. , backed by the CIA and that tried to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.

But Democrats feel a door has been opened. The city has been one of the hardest hit in Florida by the coronavirus pandemic. Aerial shots of long lines of unemployed neighbors applying for unemployment benefits have become Biden’s campaign ads. And the top five zip codes in the country for Obamacare enrollment are in the west and northwest of Miami-Dade, including Hialeah.

Across Bright Park, Yudisleidy Domínguez, Ofelia Iglesias and Geidy Montes de Oca were running out of a house, they heard someone playing music through a loudspeaker mounted on the back of a red SUV, and they yelled and nodded to the caravan . But when all the cars passed, they declared to the Miami Herald that they distrusted Biden and the Democrats, although Trump does not fully convince them.

« We are not in favor of everything that Trump has done, » said Montes de Oca, 33, who came to the United States from Cuba four years ago. « But much of what he has done is good. »

Biden’s ability to win Florida could hinge on his ability to win over more Cuban-American voters across the spectrum, such as newcomers and US-born Cuban-Americans. Campaign strategists say that older exiles who came to the United States decades ago are the least likely to vote Democratic.

But those people were represented on Saturday at Bright Park.

Sofía Venero, 78, said she supports Biden because of Trump’s « racist policies. » She said she does not believe in Trump’s socialist rhetoric about Biden, despite the fact that three years before arriving in the United States in 1965, members of the Cuban government killed her boyfriend publicly in Matanzas. When asked if she is a member of a political party, she immediately said: « Democrat, to death. »

In another car, Rosa Arias, a 62-year-old Cuban advocate for Biden, said she hopes Biden will stabilize the economy and fix the health care system. He explained that he has been without medical care from his employer since leaving his bank job three years ago, and has not been able to pay the Obamacare deductibles. But the most important thing on his mind, he said, is getting Trump out of office.

“I was middle class. Now I’m at the bottom, ”he said. “I was born in Cuba under Castro, so I know what a dictator is. Donald Trump is going that way and we have to stop him. « 

Translation by Oscar Díaz.


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