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

TRENDING TOPIC FOR MONDAY, MARCH 21ST: President Obama’s trip to Cuba and that awkward end to yesterday’s press conference with Raul Castro. We are still trying to figure out what Raul was trying to do with Obama’s arm, but what is clear is that seeing the President of the United States’ arm raised  by a tyrant while sporting a limp wrist did very little for the White House’s public relations efforts. See it here.


PRESIDENT OBAMA IN CUBA: Bernadette Pardo spoke with former City of Miami Manager Joe Arriola about the trip to Cuba with President Obama on her show,“Pedaleando con Bernie” on Radio Mambi 710AM.

Arriola focused on the reaction from the Cuban people. “We are seeing Cubans show a lot of emotion and happiness. Everyone is out in the streets, greeting the president. There is no freedom of the press or freedom of expression allowed here, but everyone is very enthusiastic that President Obama is here.” When asked why Raul Castro didn’t meet Obama at the airport, Arriola responded, “I’m not sure what the protocol is or why they decided that the official welcome would be Monday and not at the airport. I don’t think it meant anything that he didn’t go. Everyone knows that a historic meeting will take place here. I don’t think anyone is worried or really talking about that aspect.” Pardo brought up how various executives of American companies are also visiting the island. Arriola said, “on the commercial side, they are asking for permission to receive business licenses. It is going to take some time for American companies to do business here. This is mainly because the laws are not clear about how to handle certain situations that may arise. He concluded, “we hope to see some changes on this by April.”


TRENDING #TUITS – #OBAMAENCUBA

Mario Diaz-Balart ‏@MarioDB  Mar 21
POTUS talks about baseball, but doesn’t mention free, fair, and democratic elections.#ObamaenCuba http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article67364722.html …

Rep. Carlos Curbelo ‏@RepCurbelo  Mar 21
Watching anti-American dictator lecture American Pres on human rights & social justice = utterly ridiculous w @MSNBC https://youtu.be/n5v9Ro4-gbI 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ‏@RosLehtinen  Mar 21
.@HouseFloor: #Obama gives #Castro concessions w/ no strings attached, yet regime states it will not change one bit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dsaa_qo9q8 …

Patricia Mazzei ‏@PatriciaMazzei  Mar 21
Live from Havana, it’s Miami’s cutthroat TV news — despite logistical challengeshttp://hrld.us/1RcDOwT 

Department of State ‏@StateDept  Mar 21
Just released – Fact sheet on the United States-#Cuba Relationship:http://go.usa.gov/c7vjA  #USCuba #ObamaenCuba

POLITICO ‏@politico  Mar 21
In Cuba, just having a press conference is news http://politi.co/1ReDQ7o  | AP Photo


DISSIDENTS’ PERSPECTIVE: Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera and Ricardo Browndiscussed Obama’s trip to Cuba with International Analyst Frank Diaz-Pou and Cuban dissident and member of the Patriotic Cuban Union Jose Daniel Ferrer on “Roberto y Ricardo” on Actualidad 1020AM.

Despite some arguing that it was part of the Cuban protocol, Diaz-Pou discussed the fact that Raul Castro was not part of President Obama’s welcoming committee. “The people that were there to greet him included Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Cuban Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cabanas, along with other government officials. Castro supporters stipulated that if Obama was to go to Cuba, then he would have to meet with Fidel Castro, to offer him respect and recognize his importance. Everything seems to indicate that President Obama did not agree, and the White House echoed that. There was a strong reaction to that in the Cuban government, and was reflected by Raul not showing up to welcome him at the airport.”

Ferrer discussed how Cuban dissidents were arrested prior to President Obama landing in Havana on Sunday (read more here). “The repression continues to strongly affect those demanding improved human rights. More than 50 Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) and other activists were arrested at the capital.” Ferrer explained, “the repression is not limited to the capital. People all over are beaten, arrested, or kept inside their homes by police and other government authorities. In other provinces, any person or protester who was seen trying to get to Havana to see the president was arrested.” Ferrer stated he was allowed to attend a meeting today, where Obama will meet with dissidents. When asked by Rodriguez-Tejera about their position on Obama’s visit, Ferrer responded, “we know that visiting a country with a dictatorship looks like it is a bad idea, and that in can seem like the strongest country in the world is showing deference to a dictatorship that is barely surviving. However, we don’t see it like that. We are not focusing just on the relationship in terms of the United States and Cuba,we are looking at the big picture. We focus on what the situation is in Cuba, and how we can fix it. Our main objective is making things better.” Ferrer highlighted how important President Obama’s speech could be in a country were the mass media is controlled by the government, and the positive effect it can have. He concluded, “Cubans still don’t understand that the power is with them. They have the power to make the situation change. We need to be the agents of change. We do need the support of the United States and other countries, but it is Cubans who need to fight and the work for it.”

To listen to Jose Daniel Ferrer’s interview click here.


NEW IDEAS FOR MIAMI: On “Noticias del Mediodia” on Caracol 1260AM, Ralph Rosado talked about an initiative to generate new ideas to solve issues in Miami with Yoly Cuello.

Rosado highlighted the importance of the “100 Great Ideas” initiative (read more here). “The latest topic is transit and mobility. With this initiative, the public is invited to provide their ideas to solve our traffic and transportation issues, without having to go to the county or city to be heard. Everyone in Miami-Dade is talking about how we can make local transportation better. All of us get stuck in our cars for long amounts of time everyday. This affects the time we spend with our families, or our work hours. It also costs us a lot of money.” Rosado explained how people can “submit their ideas to solve these issues via Twitter or Facebook, and we can see what are the most positive and popular ideas, and try to implement them in Miami. We have reviewed over 400 ideas of almost 2000 submitted. We are going to go through them and will select certain proposals to promote them.” According to Rosado, they are going to meet with Alice Bravo, Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works in Miami-Dade, to submit the best concepts.” He concluded, “there is a lot of interest in this and we are working together to improve our city and county.”