Cuban Americans

Can Obama and Garcia beat Mario Diaz-Balart?

Posted October 27, 2008 by publisher in Cuban Americans.

By Kim Ghattas | BBC News, Miami

In the Maximo Gomez domino park, on the corner of 8th Street and 14th Avenue in Miami, time appears to have slowed down to the pace of endless domino games.

Old men shuffle their tiles and play for hours, day after day, a routine that punctuates a life in exile for Cuban immigrants still waiting for change back home.

As they smoke their cigars, they talk of the embargo on Cuba and their plans to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

There is unanimous support here for the Republican Party, which has long backed the Cuban exile community and its calls for a continued tough line with Havana.

This has been the dominant view for five decades on Calle Ocho, where thousands of Cubans started their life in exile, where Cuban music blares from loudspeakers outside shops and cafes still serve strong coffee Cuban-style, with sweet condensed milk.

Less obsessed

But the street is changing, as is the Cuban-American community.

Joe Garcia on why he presents a serious challenge to the Republican incumbent


It is no longer the bustling hub it once was.

Many Cubans have moved on and moved up, to the wealthy suburbs of Miami.

Their children and grandchildren do not bear the scars of life under Fidel Castro - they are less obsessed with Cuba, and more focused instead on their future in America.

Hispanics from all over Latin America have also converged here, altering the dynamics in the area and - crucially - the voting patterns.

It all adds a great element of surprise in what has for decades been a place of traditional politics.

This election will be the test - it will depend on how energised the vote is for Obama and how energised young voters are
Miriam Marquez, Miami Herald editor


“The Republican party that I knew and loved has left me behind, so this year I’m voting for change, I’m voting for Barack Obama,” said 60-year-old Carlos Saladrigas.

It is a dramatic change of heart for him.

As he played in his lush garden with his grandchild, along with his daughter-in law and wife, Mr Saladrigas said Cuba remained part of his family’s “fibre” and its heritage, even if his children were now as “American as apple pie”.

They still dream of going back home one day - on a chair in their living room a cushion is embroidered with the words “El ano proximo en Havana” (“Next year in Havana”).

But Mr Saladrigas, who came here when he was 12 with $3 in his pocket, no longer believes that the policy of isolation is the way to make this dream happen - and he says he is not the only one.

“Everywhere you go, in cocktail parties and people you meet, people open up and say this policy hasn’t worked,” he told me.

“You don’t have to be very smart to figure out that after 50 years of trying something that hasn’t worked, maybe it’s time to try something new.”

‘One-trick ponies’



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Member Comments

On October 27, 2008, publisher wrote:

I hoped you watched both videos above. Ms. Ghattas does a great job interviewing each candidate.

In my opinion you can see that Joe Garcia makes sense and that Mario is a real condescending DICK.

If you are in Joe Garcia’s district, please go out and do one good thing for him. Take someone to vote with you, send him a few bucks, put up a sign supporting him.

Otherwise you’ll have to wait two more years for your next chance to get rid of Mario.

On October 27, 2008, bluemarlinon wrote:

votes against the miami three is a vote for change. end this bogus embargo and let’s move on.