WAKING UP TO THE OTHER HALF
OF SOUTH FLORIDA’S POLITICAL CONVERSATION

TRENDING TOPIC FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH: It was a busy news day for South Florida Spanish-language media – from flooding in Miami Beach to diversity in the City of Miami and transit solutions for Miami-Dade County. The most talked about issue, however, was President Obama’s meeting with Raul Castro.


US-CUBA RELATIONS STRENGTHEN: As we expected, President Obama’s meeting with Raul Castro was thoroughly discussed yesterday. Bernadette Pardo interviewed Justen Thomas, Spokesperson for U.S Department of State, on “Pedaleando con Bernie” on Radio Mambi 710AM, who discussed the meeting and what we could expect for the ongoing US-Cuba process in the future.

Thomas explained, “this meeting is part of the normalization process that began with President Obama’s announcement in December last year, and is part of the talks we will continue to see between Havana and Washington D.C. It is the first official meeting between the two presidents since the restoration of diplomatic relations and that is why it is important and historic, but gradually these meetings will become the norm.” Pardo questioned Thomas about Raul Castro’s speech at the UN and how he requested a reimbursement from the US government for money lost due to the embargo and for the US to give back Guantanamo Bay. “The idea of ​​returning Guantanamo is simply not up for discussion. However, one of the issues on the table is the legitimate claims of American citizens against the Cuban government for property takings.” Regarding Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s upcoming trip to Cuba, Thomas stated, “she will meet Cuban government officials and discuss rule changes involving trade, travel and financial transactions. We want more prosperity and resources for small business owners on the island, that is one of the reasons the Secretary is going there. We expect a productive visit, in which the Secretary can see the Cuban reality and how Americans can work with small businesses in Havana.”


MIAMI-DADE TRANSIT UPDATE: Alice Bravo, Director of Miami-Dade Transit joined Julio Cesar Camacho on “Todo Noticias” on Actualidad 1020AM, to talk about current projects in the County in terms of transit and what the goals are to improve public transportation and alleviate traffic. “Our goal is to make our system clean, safe and reliable. I am interested in studying the hurdles for those who don’t want to use their cars to move around and what incentives we can provide to bring people to use mass transportation alternatives. Ultimately, we want to make public transportation as convenient as possible.” Bravo argued that although congestion is inevitable because there are people who find using their car most convenient, “the goal is to provide a reliable option for those who want to stop using their vehicle and use mass transit as a viable alternative.” She discussed Mayor Gimenez’s vision of merging the transit and public works department, so she could “work closely with other transportation agencies in Florida.” Bravo concluded, “we are working towards making a cultural change on how people in the County see public transportation.”


COMMISSIONER GORT ON MIAMI’S DIVERSITY: City of Miami Commissioner Willy Gort joined Humberto Cortina on “Al ritmo de Miami” on Radio Mambi, to give listeners an update on the City of Miami and discuss the recently approved budget and other important topics. Gort also focused on how Miami has proven that it is a truly a diverse city. “Miami is the gateway to Latin America. It is home to many different cultures and we have people from all over the world coming to this city. We specifically have many investors from Europe looking to Miami for business, not only in the United States, but also to expand to South America.” Commissioner Gort also highlighted the fact that as immigrants in Miami, “we don’t have the same issues we see against Hispanics in other parts of the US.” He concluded, “we have the ability to attract both tourism and international companies and investments to Miami and that is what we are focusing on.”


MIAMI BEACH UNDER WATER: Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera talked about the flooding issues with former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora on “Prohibido Callarse” on Mira TV. They discussed the irony of recent climate change awareness events held in Miami, while the City of Miami Beach was getting flooded. Gongora stated, “the flooding issues in Miami Beach are worse than ever, but not everywhere. The location of the pumps have benefited Mayor Levine, who promised to eliminate this problem but has failed to do so. He has not installed enough water pumps, and does not understand that pumps are not the long term solution for this problem.” Gongora continued, “in some areas the pumps are running backwards, bringing more water instead of removing it.” When asked by Rodriguez-Tejera what the solution might be, Gongora said, “it is an election year, we will continue listening to the rhetoric of most candidates promising change, but they are not looking for the right solutions like we were doing when I was part of the City Commission.”