MIAMI – Four hundred thousand Cubans living in the U.S. visit Cuba on a yearly basis. The great majority resides in the Miami area, or somewhere in Florida. Most visit for family reasons.
Recent actions by the Florida legislature, led by Cuban-American political leaders from Miami, prove once again that great numbers of those travelers are not registered to vote. Or if they are, just don’t participate during elections.
Why the correlation?
Legislators, especially the Cuban-Americans in Tallahassee, are pandering to the few who do vote. (Emphasis on PANDERING.) These are voters who participate in almost every election, including local ones. They are Cuban-Americans, most over the age of 60, who arrived in this country way before 1989.
Compare that to the nearing 40 percent of Cubans who now live in Miami and arrived on our shores after 1990. These are the Cubans who travel to Cuba in the greatest numbers. They are also the Cubans who still have the strongest ties to the island – by way of family members, friends, a wife or a husband, or even the little business they have established in the island with the brother, sister, or the guy they grew up with.
And these are the Miami Cubans who are not registered to vote, do not vote if they are registered, or, in some cases, have not even taken the time to become U.S. citizens.
Why emphasize the pandering politicians?
Tuesday in Florida’s capital a group of Cuban-American legislators, most state senators, [Miami Herald photo above] held an impromptu press conference. According to the Miami Herald, during the conference they asked their “fellow senators … join [them] in opposing President Barack Obama’s recent decision to open up diplomatic relations with Cuba.” They were successful. And nothing will come of it.
By their action they took a page from the David Rivera playbook. Remember it was David who sponsored numerous “symbolic” bills in Tallahassee that in the end cost taxpayers millions of dollars because they were unconstitutional or a waste of time.
These politicians do not care about the hundreds of thousands who visit their homeland on a yearly basis. They do not care that the President’s action has made it easier for those travelers to maintain strong family ties with loved ones on the island. They do not care that a consular office here in Florida, especially in Miami, would only make life easier for some of their constituents; also, possibly, less expensive.
Possibly the most important part of the Herald article appeared in the second paragraph and states, “The measure … is largely symbolic but send[s] an important message to the Obama administration in the minds of the Cuban-American members of the state Senate.” [Underline is mine.]
Sen. Anitere Flores led the group. Yes, the same Ms. Flores who in 2011 sponsored Senate Bill 2040, a law that would have allowed police to act as immigration officials and verify the immigration status of people they take into custody. It would have also required employers to corroborate job applicants’ immigration status through the federal e-verify program. That bill never passed, thankfully.
It did depict the bigoted, anti-humanitarian side of Sen. Flores, though. She is one of the too many U.S.-born Cuban-American politicians who become more Cuban than Jose Martí when the electoral process calls for it. But who also are more than willing to forego their family’s once-immigrant status as Ms. Flores demonstrated when she sponsored the aforementioned SB 2040. At that moment she wrapped herself with the U.S. flag and wanted to deport “all those illegal immigrants.”
They are the slew of politicians we keep reelecting who work on their own behalf – not on the behalf of the people they were elected to serve.
Our Cuban-American politicians don’t care about those persons who will never vote for, or against, them. That’s why they pander to those who still dream of 1958 in Havana. These same dreamers who will die in Miami with a wish that can only be fulfilled on weekends when they attend shows that promote their nostalgia.
The Florida legislative session takes place in March and April, over 60 days in Tallahassee. It is a time when the state budget is set and Florida business is prioritized and put in order – supposedly. But I venture to guess this group of Cuban-American legislators from Miami seems to have not been told yet that their home town has more than 20 percent of its residents living in poverty – many of them Cubans, and a majority children. These Cuban-American legislators have yet to find out that Miami has become the equivalent of a third world country because of the economic disparity among its people. The republicans among them, in fact, are still figuring out ways to assure that more than a million Floridians are denied health care because of ideological opposition to Obamacare.
Still, these Miami Cuban-American legislators have the time to waste on symbolic gestures that if it wasn’t that they are so useless would only do harm to a great number of Cubans who live here. People they don’t care about. Because they just don’t vote!