[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Myriam Marquez's First Column

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Myriam Marquez's First Column

Today was Myriam Marquez's debut as Miami Herald's Metro columnist, replacing the recently departed Ana Menendez.

Let's get straight to the point. I liked Marquez's first column. Some may be surprised to hear this since there was no hint of supporting terrorists or scam artists, defending of Republicans at any cost, or Cuban chest-thumping of any sort. That's OK, we'll let those poor souls figure it out if they wish.

Some highlights:

Had the U.S. government turned us away, I would have been forced to wear a red kerchief, shouting slogans about wanting to be like el Che. (A victory for this wife and mother of two sons: The boys know not to bring home a Che Guevara T-shirt from college.)

Now I have the privilege of sharing my perspective in this column three times a week, to try to explain what too often in South Florida seems inexplicable. I don't take this assignment lightly.

I'll tell it to you straight, laud what works and point squarely at the corruption and avarice that for too long has defined My-ami, our South Florida.
Don't be too quick to label. If you're pegging me way to the right or half-cocked to the left, you're letting ideology get in the way of the facts. You're missing all those shades of gray, the fine print.

I voted twice for Democrat Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush. Both were strong governors who set out to build a better Florida. They weren't perfect, but they made a difference. Independent-minded voters, that vast mushy middle, know that party labels don't determine a leader's character or competence.

I've got a lot to say about how we start to fix a state that has survived on the cheap for too long. We may not always agree, but if you care about our community, our children's future and our quality of life, we'll engage in this conversation. Because those of us who love this crazy place know we can overcome.

If there's one thing that makes you a true Floridian -- whether a proud 10th-generation Cracker defending small-town life that once graced this state or a Spanglish-speaking urbanite -- it's optimism.

South Florida's own grumpy kind of gumption.

Pessimists can move to New York or Seattle and wear black and predict doom and gloom for South Florida.

Here, we embrace wild colors and wild times and complain. Loudly.

In this Land of the Free, we all have stories about past hurts and recriminations, about dreams unfulfilled and justice denied. Count on me to demand better.
Essentially, Marquez paints herself as a political moderate with a hint of social liberalism, who's not afraid to criticize both sides of the political spectrum. Based on her track record as columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, I would say that's an accurate assessment.

Evil hard-liners such as myself can be comforted in knowing that she's been very critical of the Cuban regime, and those who choose to stay quiet about it, in columns re-published by none other than Cubanet here and here. There's also a nice skewering of Howard Dean here which is sure to drive many Democrats bonkers and make Republican hearts jump for joy.

On the other hand, we have this column demanding that pictures of flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers be released by the Bush administration. And here's a column suggesting an ambivalent, if not skeptical, view of the U.S. "embargo" against Cuba.

This is but a small sampling that I was able to gather. Whether it's representative of Marquez's future Herald columns remains to be seen, but there's no current reason to doubt it.

Herald Watch has pointed out that Marquez was the editor of the sloppy Marti Moonlighter piece of journalism cranked out by Oscar Corral back in 2006 which led to a big shake-up at 1 Herald Plaza.

Back to today's column: I liked Marquez's direct, non-condescending, optimistic tone (the exact opposite of her predecessor) which is also evident in past columns I've linked here. I also like her moderate tone and willingness to see things fairly. This doesn't mean that I will always agree with her. That's actually a good thing. But it goes a long way towards answering my hopes for the new metro columnist which I expressed here. Time will tell. In the meantime, I'll be reading and analyzing Myriam Marquez's columns with much interest.


Blogger Tio said...

This used to be Jim DeFede's column before he got fired and Ana Menendez took over. DeFedemust be having apoplexy.

12:03 AM, July 23, 2008  
Blogger Jorge Costales CPA said...

Very informative post - I especially liked the links to her past writing. Like you I'm cautiously optimistic about her.

4:12 PM, July 24, 2008  

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