Tag Archives: Cuba

‘A lot of voters changed their minds between 2016 and 2020’

(Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Erik Levitz spoke to pollster David Shor again this week for a post-mortem on the 2020 election. Now that we can see the results precinct by precinct the conclusions are as sobering as a blow to the chest. The GOP chipped away at the traditionally Democratic African American bloc and broke huge chunks from Hispanics:

One important thing to know about the decline in Hispanic support for Democrats is that it was pretty broad. This isn’t just about Cubans in South Florida. It happened in New York and California and Arizona and Texas. Really, we saw large drops all over the country. But it was notably larger in some places than others. In the precinct-level data, one of the things that jumps out is that places where a lot of voters have Venezuelan or Colombian ancestry saw much larger swings to the GOP than basically anywhere else in the country. The Colombian and Venezuelan shifts were huge.

One of my favorite examples is Doral, which is a predominantly Venezuelan and Colombian neighborhood in South Florida. One precinct in that neighborhood went for Hillary Clinton by 40 points in 2016 and for Trump by ten points in 2020. One thing that makes Colombia and Venezuela different from much of Latin America is that socialism as a brand has a very specific, very high salience meaning in those countries. It’s associated with FARC paramilitaries in Colombia and the experience with President Maduro in Venezuela. So I think one natural inference is that the increased salience of socialism in 2020 — with the rise of AOC and the prominence of anti-socialist messaging from the GOP — had something to do with the shift among those groups.

As for the story with Hispanics overall, one thing that really comes out very clearly in survey data that we’ve done is that it really comes down to ideology. So when you look at self-reported ideology — just asking people, “Do you identify as liberal, moderate, or conservative” — you find that there aren’t very big racial divides. Roughly the same proportion of African American, Hispanic, and white voters identify as conservative. But white voters are polarized on ideology, while nonwhite voters haven’t been. Something like 80 percent of white conservatives vote for Republicans. But historically, Democrats have won nonwhite conservatives, often by very large margins. What happened in 2020 is that nonwhite conservatives voted for Republicans at higher rates; they started voting more like white conservatives.

Reread the following sentence. Many of us involved in local politics have been figuring how to discuss getting local police out of situations requiring mental health training, or, stickier, how to remove the stinger from Defund the Police as slogan. I can’t. The Trump flags in Westchester are gone; the Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers, proxies for Trumpism, remain. The Hispanics who turned to Trump in 2020 admire authority because it allows them to keep the possessions for which they have scrimped and worked two jobs — at least initially. This fear of unmasked antifa forces marching into West Miami to burn every speedboat and SUV in sight may abate in 2022, but I don’t count on it.

‘In the Hispanic world, black isn’t always black’

The Democratic Party’s failure to understand what distinguishes even moderate Cubans from other immigrants will, I hope, trigger an appraisal of their vote drive appeals. I’ve written often about my people’s unsubtle attitude toward their color, i.e. they ain’t Black and, besides, Uncle Sam said we weren’t. Pollsters like Carlos Odio have explained these phenomena too. Continue reading

‘People used to say Communism can’t happen in Cuba…’

(Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

For friends living outside Florida (the state with the prettiest name!), USA Today‘s Romina Ruiz-Goiriena interviews several Miami-Dade Trump voters to get an idea of the marbles, bats, and gumballs rattling around their heads. The quotes may shock my readers, but as a local I shrug. Continue reading

Donald Trump and Hispanic machismo

A decade ago, three weeks from an election that, apart from packing Barack Obama’s first term priorities in ice, would show Democrats the peril of ignoring local and state races, a relative and I got into about, what else, the president’s socialist tendencies. Obama wasn’t socialist, he assured me; he was a, right, fellow-traveler. Why else did he appoint all those czars?! Hillary Clinton, I learned, would’ve known how to handle legislation. Hillary had balls. My relative, in case I needed an illustration, curled the forefinger and thumb of each hand and dangled them below his crotch. Continue reading

‘I was born in Cuba under Castro, so I know what a dictator looks like’: Joe Biden’s Hispanic support

Two weeks ago, Florida Democrats, so accustomed to defensive crouches that we feel no muscle strain, panicked when a reputable poll with fewer than two hundred participants showed Joe Biden had work to do with Hispanics: although Biden is predicted to win them, Donald Trump has cut into his margin, thanks to reluctant Cuban Americans in 2016 realizing they’re cool with authoritarianism so long as it aligns with their policy positions. Continue reading

Being Black in Miami

Long form journalism is still possible, a conclusion proven by The Miami Herald‘s excellent story on my county’s broken promises to its Black residents. With important context from scholars Marvin Dunn, N.D.B. Connolly, and Ned Murray and Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem, Andres Viglucci and his co-byliners stress how “urban development” (code for highway construction), redlining, a disinterest in investment and in the granting of small business loans, and the more obvious forms of racism thwarted ambitions in Black neighborhoods for generations.

I highlight the following section because it contains obvious facts worth stressing. During the era when the House and Senate sent to Lyndon Baines Johnson’s desk the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, a professional class of Cuban emigres, many of whom could pass for white — some insisting they were white — took the mid-level managerial jobs that a crumbling Jim Crow had prohibited Miami Blacks from obtaining.

What’s indisputable is that Cuban exiles, joined by subsequent waves of Cuban migration and immigrants from Nicaragua, Colombia and other Latin American countries, built an insular enclave economy that, as it thrived and expanded, left little room for Miami’s Black population to move into Miami-Dade’s economic mainstream, experts say. That trend was only accentuated after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 prompted a large chunk of the county’s white non-Hispanic middle class to relocate to Broward.

Invested in its own survival and advancement, the Cuban and Hispanic majority spared little recognition for the historic disadvantages of Black Miamians and scant interest in ensuring they shared equally in business or politics, some experts say. Dunn, in his 1996 book, argues that Black residents did in fact benefit as the county economy grew dramatically, but by no means equitably.

“As the white population left the area, that place was taken over by Cuban and other Latin entrepreneurs,” said Alejandro Portes, a sociologist now at University of Miami who is regarded as the leading expert on the Cuban enclave and its role in the city’s transformation. “By and large there is a clear preference by the Cuban-American entrepreneurial class to hire people like themselves. In finance and banking, in real estate and construction and tourism, the African American population was marginalized.”

The early years were tough for Cubans. My grandfather, a bank administrator, sold ties. Mom saved a few cents here and there from her lunch money so she could buy 45 rpm singles. Moreover, as the article notes, white Floridians generously doled out racism to Cubans too. But when it came to pulling themselves by the bootstraps, Cubans got boots and straps from a federal government obsessed with anti-Commie PR:

Cuban exiles were also the beneficiaries of a generous federal assistance program. Congress and Democratic and Republican administrations, eager to showcase the advantages of the U.S. capitalism system over Cuba’s Communist system, poured millions into refugee aid, small business loans and other support for exiles. Because many exiles came from the island’s skilled, educated class, they had built-in networks poised to take advantage of the federal support, which helped them set up and expand businesses in a matter of a few years.

According to historic accounts cited in the Color of Wealth report, the federal Cuban refugee program invested nearly $4 billion in resettlement, job training, housing and education programs from the 1960s through 1996

“We are products of the Cold War,” my dad has said on more than one occasion. Consider that dollar amount. Consider how half these billions would’ve propped up a newly empowered Black community; how it could’ve emboldened a new Black elite. Congratulations to the Miami Herald for publishing this piece.

Cuban epic ‘Lucía’ gets a re-introduction

Florid, lyrical, and rigorous in their commitment to revolutionary praxis, the films of Humberto Solás deserve a place in any analysis of Latin American cinema, notably in their depiction of women and mulattoes in a culture that condescended to them despite the liberation rhetoric. Poor American distribution hasn’t helped, nor has the way those films skirted direct confrontation with the Fidel Castro regime. Lucía (1968), his best known film, has gotten the Criterion Channel treatment thanks to Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project; no doubt this impressive picture looks better than it ever did. Continue reading

Cuban-Americans and racism

If my readers still have an interest in shocking conservative relatives, tell them that women can be misogynist, homosexuals can be homophobic, and Blacks can be racist. Utter the last sentence in front of a Cuban-American, pair it with the sour reminder that Cubans are people of color, and serve in a highball glass, a single block ice cube preferred. At most you might get an acknowledgment, extracted as if through a muzzle, of the Moorish influence in Spain. Continue reading

On educational systems — Bernie Sanders and Fidel Castro’s

In the last few days I’ve watched South Florida Democrats, politicians and plebes, howl with despair over Senator Bernie Sanders’ defenses of the Cuban educational system on 60 Minutes. Here are the disavowals by my House representative and the rep in my neighboring district: Continue reading

The battle is joined

On May Day, 1980, Fidel Castro announced what became known as the Mariel boat lift with a speech explaining why he was opening Cuban borders to anyone who wanted to leave:

He who has no revolutionary genes, he who has no revolutionary blood, he who does not have a mind that adapt to the idea of a revolution, he who does not have a heart that can adapt to the effort of heroism required by a revolution: We do not want them; we do not need them. [cheers and applause] And at any rate, they are an insignificant part of the people

Yesterday, NPR’s George Allen headed to Miami’s La Carreta, the Westchester landmark to which any reporter heads when he wants to Feel the Pulse of the suburban Cuban-American community. The president’s remarks stirred those quiet hearts.

JOSE ANTONIO VEGA: I am a hundred percent with him – OK? – because he’s a real American.

ALLEN: That’s Jose Antonio Vega, who came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1962. Here’s Alberto Gil, another Trump supporter who emigrated from Cuba in 1980.

ALBERTO GIL: For me, he love this country. He do it every single day for make America great again. If we put the American people first, that’s what we need in this country.

ALLEN: Gil says Trump’s right in telling those who don’t like it to leave. They can go to a socialist place, he says. We have Russia. We have Cuba. We have Venezuela.

Standing at the counter, Santiago Casamayor was sipping from a tiny cup of Cuban coffee. He’s registered as an independent and didn’t vote for Trump, but he says he’s with him now. Casamayor says Trump’s comments aren’t about race.

Do you see any differences? These comments are merely representative. I have long since concluded that what infuriated many Cuban-Americans who fled in the early sixties wasn’t Castro’s golpe de estado — Cubans had become inured to coups — but that Castro, a traitor to his class, wasn’t their kind of revolutionary; they support violence against dissidents and get weak-kneed at the mention of authoritarianism.

Last night was the culmination of a modern Republican Party that began in Philadelphia, Mississippi, not far from where Southern sadists killed seven Freedom Riders; it was here where Ronald Reagan, smiling and ducking his head, appealed to states rights with the winks and nudges that Lee Atwater would’ve approved. As recently as yesterday afternoon, the bootlicking remains of the journalist once known as Jake Tapper aired anonymous quotes from Democratic House members sharing disappointment that they were being coerced into defending the four congresswomen on whom Donald Trump has turned his rage. As if they were any other fight involving Democrats than unseating the president. As if passing a “positive agenda,” whatever that means, in a GOP-controlled Senate matters. As if changing the mind of any coward citizen who thinks, “Yeah, the president went too far, but Omar and AOC….” There is “yes, but.” I don’t want those people voting for any Democratic candidate I support, nor should this candidate lift a finger to woo citizens like this.

What we saw in North Carolina yesterday vaporized any notion that Donald Trump’s appeal rested on economic anxiety; he won by barely seventy thousand votes in November 2016 because of the racial anxieties of white people and thousands of dense, insular, and racist minorities, of which Miami-Dade Cubans are a part. I’m ashamed of them, and I want no association with them.

The president’s disgust with people of color

“Florida recount” inspires more grins than “Frank Drebin, Police Squad,” but if the results hold I expect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott to triumph, thanks to a campaign cycle marked by demagoguery and chicanery. They will owe their support in some measure to the Cuban vote, which remains intransigent despite the steady accumulation of tombstones at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North:

Miami communications strategist Giancarlo Sopo, himself a Cuban-American, looked at Miami-Dade’s most Cuban precincts. He found DeSantis won twice as many votes as Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum did in those enclaves: 66 percent to 33 percent.

That’s a difference of more than 160,000 votes – far more than the shrinking statewide advantage DeSantis has held since election night. The governor’s race will probably go to a recount now because less than half a percentage point separates DeSantis and Gillum.

A Telemundo poll taken the week before elections showed, guess what, that sixty-four percent of the Cuban Americans polled supported DeSantis. Not a surprise. Gillum, black and socialist, never had a chance.

Now the president, refreshed after staying in from the wet French rain, went on his morning Twitter constitutional. As reported by his faithful amanuensis Jonathan Swan of Axios, he wants to end federal Hurricane Maria aid to Puerto Rico:

More than $6 billion has been allocated to help aid storm recovery, but hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for help, living in homes that are in desperate need of repair, according to The New York Times. The island’s leadership has said it needs billions more to rebuild, and in February said that it would cost at least $17 billion just to fix its beleaguered power grid.


Swan reported Sunday that Trump has even proposed demanding some of the money already allocated to relief back.

Swan is the fellow who acted as Trump’s errand boy when the president suggested changes to the Fourteenth Amendment that, were he alive, would have inspired Thaddeus Stevens to smother him to death with a toupee, therefore take a deep breath. But it’s a reminder of the president’s loathing for brown skinned people unless they’re supine like Cubans, who, I’ll remind readers, don’t consider themselves people of color and whom American immigration policy has considered white.