I have written how the GOP is delusional if it thinks Marco Rubio can woo Hispanic. Cubans and Dominicans have dissimilar histories. Cubans, I wrote, “are unique among immigrants in that politics forms as inextricable a part of their blood cells as plasma, and as a result they take seriously the stories their families tell about themselves. He has never wanted to be other than the child of exiles who left before the grotesqueries and blood spilled of Castro’s coup d’etat, taking their Cold War ethos into an eighth decade.” Cubans are also unique because the existence of the Cuban Adjustment Act confers on them a protected status that they share with no other immigrant cohort. After a year and a day, a Cuban immigrant receives permanent residency. Granted residency without needing to prove the Castro regime persecuted them, Cubans are presumed refugees. Think about that reality for a moment. Marco Rubio and House counterpart (and my congressman) Carlos Curbelo have filed bills to toughen the standards by which these residents get cash and Medicaid.
Last night’s debate performance should chill Rubio’s six supporters. He’s not going to get the nomination. Should Bernie Sanders wish to bind the junior senator from Florida in chains of white privilege, he can, as Jason Nichols does in this post explaining the fraught matter of Cubans and race:
While Rubio rails on about entitlement culture and how the War on Poverty programs were a failure, he fails to recognize that Cuban refugees received financial assistance from the government, unlike any other immigrant group. The presidential hopeful has little sympathy for people fleeing violence in Central America, while Cubans are given automatic political refugee status and asylum. Over the years, more repressive regimes were found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but they were never treated with the same concern by the United States.
And the kill shot:
Marco Rubio is indeed not a sellout. He is a product of old conservative Cuban-American ideology and ethnic white privilege. He and Cruz complicate Latinidad and the idea that all Latinos are people of color, and the concept of a singular “Latino vote.” Their presence absolutely should make us question the idea that “Brown” is synonymous with all people of Latin American origin. While Rubio extols “traditional values” in his political advertisements, one must wonder what traditions or whose values he intends to uphold or protect. They won’t be those of Carlos Cook, Pedro Albizu Campos, or Cesar Chavez. They will be the traditional values of Ronald Reagan, who bears responsibility in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Brown Central Americans.
It’s true that Cuba wasn’t a Jim Crow state, and my grandparents’ generation was shocked by the level of racism in South Florida, where black Americans had to leave the beach by sunset. But tension between black and white Cubans remains a thing, denied by the latter but revealed in their essentialist language: if you look Asian, you’re un chino; from that point forward, the Cuban will refer to you as el chino, often with the best of intentions.
But enough. All that’s saving Rubio from a place in hell is his irrelevance.