[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: December 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

King Mango Strut

Tomorrow's the annual parody parade in Miami known as the King Mango Strut.

I can't say that I'm a fan of the event. Perhaps the irrerevent "Miami is a Banana Republic" attitude which seems to permeate the event is a turn off. Or maybe it's the fact that Janet Reno was the Grand Marshal back in 2003. Perhaps it's the way the event embraces all the stereotypes we face as a community (case in point, the Chonga Girls are this year's Grand Marshals).

Or maybe it's just a severe lack of a sense of humor on my part.

Anyone wonder how an institution such as the Orange Bowl Parade shut down several years back, but its parody lives on and on?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Meri Crisma

I'll be busy getting ready for Nochebuena and Christmas Day (one of the great things about being bi-cultural is that you get to celebrate Christmas two days in a row), so I won't have time to post over the next couple of days.

Therefore, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope Santicló gives everyone what they want.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Solid Foundations Never Erode

It's always great to see the younger generation stand up and be counted as being strong advocates for freedom in Cuba.

If you believe the media and many on the "left" side of the Cuban-American community, you would think that the younger generation of Cuban-Americans not only are less inclined to be political, but if they're political at all they will tend to drift away from the values and beliefs of their parents and grandparents.

At least that's what the Democratic Party is hoping and praying for.

I don't doubt that there is a significant number of young Cuban-Americans who will gravitate towards something totally opposite from their parents and abuelos. It's to be expected.

However, what you DON'T often hear are the equally significant number of young Cuban-Americans who not only embrace their forebearers' values, but promote them in ways the older folks could only dream of years ago. They are the torch-bearers for a good and just cause.

There are many examples of this which are too numerous for me to mention in its entirety, but one example that comes to mind is Raices de Esperanza.

Another more recent example is La Primera Generación, featured today at Babalu Blog.

By the way, I'm sure many of these kids aren't partisan when it comes to political parties, nor should they be. What matters is what they feel inside and the activism they choose to partake in. In the end, however, the party that shows the most interest and understands their cause the best is the one that will win out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quick Shots

Here's a quick roundup of interesting news items:

- Glad to see the Miami-Dade County Commission approve the "Miami Mega-deal" by a 9-4 vote. Like I've said, we pretty much have 2 choices: moving forward with the plan and hashing out the gory details, or staying stuck in the same rut as always. As for those who think this should go to a vote (never mind the fact that voters have already given authority for these individuals to do EXACTLY what they are doing), Glenda Millberg of Channel 10 said it best:
The idea that this should be decided in a voter referendum would be a great if everyone who cast a vote would commit to understanding what a CRA is and how it functions, and actually read the details of the plan. Care to guess what voter turnout might be for that one?
- Bill Parcells (a.k.a El Gran Tuna) is coming to Miami to be the head of football operations for the Dolphins. No matter how you feel about Parcells, this is a good move. Parcells is a proven winner, leader and excellent evaluator of talent, everything the Dolphins have been missing for 7 years.

- Ana Menendez criticizes Florida Senate House Leader Marco Rubio for supporting Mike Huckabee. I mean, what self-respecting Cuban-American would support a Neanderthal like Huckabee, right Ana? Here's a deal: when Menendez starts criticizing Democrats for having pro-abortion stances, then she can stand solidly on her own two feet while lambasting Huckabee for his "anti-progressive" positions.

- Gotta love how some Democrats act tough on border security when it's convenient to them. You can say a lot about Charlie Rangel and Barbara Lee, but boring isn't one of them.

Local Blog Soap Opera Makes The Herald

On Page 3 of the Herald's local section today, an article on the demise of Stuck on the Palmetto. Just goes to show you how far blogs have come in just a short time that what basically amounts to a local internet spat involving no more than a several hundred people (readers) would make the Herald.

That, to me, is by far the most remarkable and noteworthy aspect of the closing of Stuck on the Palmetto.

As I like to say: "Onward and Upward".


Sunday, December 16, 2007

1 And 13

The Miami Dolphins won today. It was their first win of the season after 13 losses.

This is the sound heard from the vicinity of my home shortly after 4 PM EST when the Dolphins won the game in overtime.

New England Patriots and their perfect record:

You next.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Big News for Miami and South Florida

The blockbuster deal approved by Miami city commissioners and Mayor Manny Diaz has me excited. A Marlins stadium, Museum Park, Port Tunnel (construction company notwithstanding), streetcars, hell...even a soccer stadium (don't laugh, I like soccer)!


I know this has a long way to go to ever become reality, and the whole thing is very ambitious for a city government that has had trouble with much less complicated issues. Still, I have to give kudos to Manny Diaz for at least having the vision necessary to move Miami and South Florida forward. After all, big things don't happen for those who don't take chances.

The Marlins stadium at the Orange Bowl can, and will work. I would have preferred a downtown site, but the OB site will be OK once people get over the "it's in Little Havana" and that there's no Metrorail station within reasonable walking distance. The county has provided shuttles from the nearest station to the OB for Hurricanes games, so there IS a preexisting method of public transportation for the OB. Also, it's not as far from downtown as some would lead you to believe (no more than 1.5 miles as the crow flies).

There are those who are concerned about the big player in this, the redrawing (gerrymandering) of the Community Development Agency boundaries to include Museum Park. The CDA is designed to help down and out neighborhoods, not serve as the catalyst for big community projects, they say.

Those concerns aren't totally without merit, but the folks who espouse those concerns are missing the bigger picture. Imagine a downtown where you have a thriving Performing Arts Center and Museum complex within walking distance. Imagine a sports complex where baseball and soccer, two popular sports in South Florida, will co-exist. Imagine what these entities would do for a city wanting to step up in the world stage. Imagine the impact on our community, on our children who will get to enjoy these amenities that are integral components of any world-class city. Most importantly, how can something like this NOT create jobs and opportunities?

If we sit back and complain about the same-old, same-old, without taking bold action, we'll always have the same-old, same-old. I'm sure this plan has faults that will have to be addressed at some point. But finally, for once, someone in Miami has the vision to put out a plan that, if completed even close to the original, will set the beginning of a new era in South Florida.

For that, I congratulate Manny Diaz.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Univision Debate Reaction


Not that it was bad, mind you, but nowhere near as exciting and confrontational as the previous debate. Also, hearing the answers through a translator was bad. Quite often, the translators would not be able to finish the candidates' remarks before the next question began, leading to some missed words. Just another reason why the translator method is a bad idea.

George should be very happy he was at the auditorium and not subjected to the translators (or was he?).

Aside from Ron Paul (a given), none of the candidates really hurt their cause last night. The answers were safe, perhaps a bit too general, but the main points were driven home without any big "in your face" statements. I think the awkwardness of the format affected the punch and energy behind much of the responses and limited the amount of interchange that could have presented itself.

Mitt Romney did much better last night than in St. Pete last week, then again he wasn't directly confronted by any of the other candidates. Duncan Hunter was solid (too bad he's not getting more support), as was Mike Huckabee (his "send off" of Michael Moore to Cuba was great) and Rudy Giuliani.

John McCain did very well once again. Give the man credit...when it comes to foreign policy no one can top him. The CAMBIO wristband he sported was awesome, and didn't seem contrived or fake because we all know where he stands on Cuba. Considering that foreign policy is the number one concern of many Americans, McCain deserves serious consideration.

Fred Thompson: where's the energy? You looked tired again last night. A hallmark of a great leader is the ability to inspire and empower. Fred has all the right ideas, but hasn't shown the ability to inspire and empower as he did before he officially entered the campaign. Maybe he'll get the fire back, but it's getting late in the game and his numbers are slipping.


Sunday, December 09, 2007


Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day. Click here to find out what some brave individuals in Cuba and around the world are doing to commemorate the occasion.


Don't Waffle On Me Now

When I tune in to watch the Univision Republican debate en español tonight, I will be watching, and hoping, for one main thing:

I want the candidates to look the camera right in the eye and in no uncertain terms state their opposition to illegal immigration. Any waffling will draw my ire, you can bet on it.

They'll get the occasional testy question from the moderators, Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas (who actively support leniency for illegals), and likely elicit boos from a large portion of the audience at the BankUnited Center on the UM campus.

A side note: Just as those on the far-right (Tom "Miami is Third World" Tancredo and the likes) who denounce everything immigrant-related are clueless and out of line with rational thought, so are those who want to label all proponents of tougher immigration laws as "anti-immigrant". Check out Maria Elena Salinas' web site, and in her columns, notice how many times she makes that reference towards Republicans who want secure borders and immigration laws enforced. I personally like Salinas (her compañero Jorge Ramos is another story). Her rags-to-riches immigrant story is quintessentially American and one that I can relate to. I commend her for reaching her lofty goals. She is smart and responsible, except she falls into the same rhetorical trap regarding the immigration issue.

That's why my main desire for this evening is that the candidates clearly express, as they've done many times, that they are not anti-immigrant, but anti-illegal immigration. Is that so hard to understand? Or is it just a matter of people ignoring a logical argument just because it hurts fellow Hispanics?

All this talk about losing the Hispanic vote is overblown because, let's face it, Hispanics, except for Cuban-Americans...God Bless Us! ;)...vote overwhelmingly Democrat. The 40% that voted for Bush in 2004 appeared to be an anomaly. Give us straight talk and straight, honest answers, and let those who don't want to believe it walk away. That's what the majority of Americans want.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

GOP Debate in Spanish

Tomorrow night here in Miami, the GOP presidential candidates square off in yet another debate. The big deal about this debate is the fact that it is hosted by Univision and it will be translated into Spanish for the benefit of its viewers.

I'm happy that the GOP candidates (save Tom "Miami is Third World" Tancredo) finally agreed to participate. It's about time Hispanics get to hear honest talk about illegal immigration. Chances are the majority of viewers won't like what they hear, but as I like to say:

"Oh well."

I have to admit that, despite being bilingual and supportive of efforts to promote bilingualism, deep inside I feel a little resentment towards Univision and those U.S. Hispanics who demand that debates be broadcast in Spanish. I feel dirty for thinking and writing this, but I have to hold my nose and agree with Tancredo that all U.S. citizens should speak English. It's simply a matter of respect, is how I see it.

Where folks like Tancredo and I disagree is in the degree in which one learns English and retains their heritage. I get the impression that Tancredo and other xenophobes out there expect people to arrive in this country, forget all of where they came from, and learn English on the spot. After all, isn't that what the immigrants of the early 20th century did? (No, of course not, but that's another topic for another day). As previous posts here have alluded to, Hispanic immigrants eventually learn English, whether poorly or otherwise, and their kids end up speaking better English than Spanish. Therefore, all this xenophobic bluster about English being the official (read: only) language of the United States is much ado about nada.

Where I feel a little conflicted is in the fact that Mexican-owned networks such as Univision take advantage of Americans' spirit of inclusiveness and start making demands that Spanish be given equal time in the United States. I have no problem whatsoever with networks such as Univision and Telemundo, and their local affiliates, broadcasting programming in Spanish. It's a choice and it's great that we can be exposed to different cultures and languages, as well as provide information to a large segment of the population that doesn't yet have good command of English. It's in the demand that Univision cut across demographic lines and broadcast a U.S. presidential debate in Spanish where they cross the line. If Univision would have decided to broadcast the entire thing in English, with subtitles instead of spoken translation into Spanish, I would applaud that as the respectful and truly inclusive thing to do.

Hispanics of all countries and colors who believe and demand that people should speak to them in Spanish in the United States are just plain rude. One thing is to not be able to speak fluent English for various and valid reasons without making demands that they be spoken to in Spanish, and another is to expect Americans to cover their language deficiencies.

To these folks, and to Univision, it appears that bilingualism is a one way street. Let's not forget that to be bilingual is to speak Spanish AND English.

If you don't speak good English, or if you don't speak English at all, that's perfectly fine. Many of my older relatives speak or spoke little if any English. Just don't push around the vast majority of Americans who speak our common language, which is English.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Florida Marlins Do It Again

A shrug and a sigh.

That was my reaction to the Florida Marlins - Detroit Tigers trade involving the last 2 remaining members of the 2003 championship team. A trade involving Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis has been rumored and discussed for a while, and considering the track record of the Marlins franchise and their propensity to sell off their star players, this was hardly surprising. This partially explains my reaction.

My reaction is a byproduct of being a Marlins season ticket holder and fan since the start (1993) and experiencing both the joys of their two World Series titles in 6 years (exactly the same number of titles the Red Sox have captured in the past few years), and the almost immediate sadness of key players being traded away.

As the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde succinctly put it:
I can't even work up a good anger anymore. I can't type venom, or talk nasty or muster even an ounce of ugliness other than to ask in a weary tone: When does this ever end with the Marlins?
When loyal fans merely shrug their shoulders and sigh at the news of a blockbuster trade, there is something wrong with the organization. People can make fun of the Marlins' low attendance all they want, but the latest in a string of loyalty-crushing blows delivered by the Jeffrey Loria/David Samson team justifies every single key reason why ex, current and potential Marlins fans stay away from the stadium in large numbers.

To put it simply, the loyalty shown by hard-core Marlins fans (among the best fans in sports for all we put up with) is not returned by the people who depend on the fans the most: the owner and president of the franchise. After a while, even the most loyal get fed up and say "the hell with them".

By the way, Henry Gomez posted a five-part series analyzing the Marlins' fan base and that of the other Miami-area sports teams here. It is an excellent, number-crunching analysis that only Henry can deliver, and helps to dispel some widely-held myths regarding South Florida sports fans. I strongly recommend checking out the series.

More from Dave Hyde regarding "poor boys" Loria and Samson:
But if this were about improving it would be one issue. This is about money, only money, though not in the way you think. The Marlins could afford Cabrera and Willis with no problem. Of course they could, no matter what the perception is.

This has been said before but needs to be shouted on days like today. This franchise makes bundles of money. It turns a wonderful profit. Take out the calculator and add up what they got last year:

$30 million. That's in revenue sharing.

$12 million. That's an estimated local TV deal, according to a source.

$18 million. That's from the national TV deal.

That's $60 million right there. That's before they sell a ticket, sign up a corporation or cash one of the increasingly lucrative checks from the merchandising arm of Major League Baseball. That's against a $32 million payroll last year that could dwindle to about half that this year.

Oh, right. There's the cost of running a minor league system. Please. If Loria and Samson wanted to take that saved $20 million this season and put it toward the new stadium fund, fine. Who wouldn't be for it if they followed through with that idea?
About the stadium, the deal is, what, $30-60 million short? Do the math. It's obvious that Loria and Samson would rather pocket their profits than using part of it to help fill the funding gap for the new stadium, one that will make them and their descendants rich for generations. But no, they are carpetbaggers of the first degree. As Jim Mandich stated on the radio yesterday, Marlins ownership has no equity built in South Florida. In other words, they have no roots here, nor do they care about setting down any (unless the price is right, of course). South Florida fans are savvy and smart enough to realize this. Montreal baseball fans know too, but they learned the hard way: Loria and Samson raped them for several years as part of the Montreal Expos before leaving town for Washington.

Still believe Jeffrey Loria can't afford the money? Take a look here (courtesy of SporTech Matter):
Reached by phone, Jeffrey Loria, who according to Yale also donated $20 million, said he made the gift because "I'm a [Yale] graduate, and I could afford it, and it's time to give back to the university." Mr. Loria is an art dealer, as well as the owner of the Florida Marlins, and over the years he has given several works of art to Yale.
If he wants to give back to his alma mater, that's great and I respect that. But if he can plunk down $20 million for an institution he cares about, don't you think he could do the same for the baseball team he owns and stands to make a killing on some day?

fter you answer this question with the obvious, the next question which should immediately pop into your head is:

Still wondering why an area rich with baseball fans can't draw?


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Burying One of Our Own

I regret missing the opportunity to post this earlier, but last week in Miami funeral services were held for U.S. Army Pfc Marius (Mario) Ferrero, 23, who died in Iraq on November 18. I realize Mario's death is no more or less significant than all the others who have died while serving our country. I also realize that I have failed to post about other young men and women from South Florida who have perished. This has nothing to do with my feelings on the war in Iraq or any other place where our men and women are serving.

My choosing to post about Mario's funeral doesn't have that much to do with the fact that he's Cuban-American, although it does hit home a little more for me.

Actually, it was this quote from his brother Manny that inspired me to post this:
''Our family would just like for everyone to remember Marius for the brave soldier that he was, for the fact that he died in honor for this country and for you and me to be able to have this freedom which we take for granted each and every day of our lives,'' Manny Ferrero wrote.
Simple, but powerful. In the end, no matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, Manny's quote speaks for the cause our brave soldiers are fighting for.

You can see a slide show of the funeral here.