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

TRENDING TOPIC FOR TUESDAY, MAY 17TH: It was primary day in Kentucky and Oregon yesterday. Hillary Clinton won in Kentucky, while Senator Bernie Sanders took Oregon. Although he has won several states, it is highly unlikely that Sanders will get the Democratic nomination, leaving many wondering if he will drop out before the convention.


ARE WE MOVING FORWARD WITH CUBA?: Bernadette Pardo spoke with former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez about issues related to diplomatic relations with Cuba on her show,“Pedaleando con Bernie” on Radio Mambi 710AM.

Fernandez discussed why the new diplomatic approach with Cuba has had some setbacks and how Castro continues to make demands, like ending the embargo and closing Guantanamo, that the United States is not willing to meet. “Until now, they were discussing matters that could get resolved quickly. Now we can tell that they are not seeing eye to eye. Cuba is telling us that the United States owes them $120 billion dollars, while the United States claims the Cuban government must pay $10 billion dollars for the American companies and other properties the Castros seized during a period of over 50 years.” He continued, “this topic is not going to be resolved easily. We need to keep bringing it up like they do with Guantanamo.” Fernandez explained that it is important to have these conversations, because new details will come up that could show some progress. When asked about what other exchanges were planned and if we were going to see any economic policy advancement soon, Fernandez said, “I think that Guantanamo and the money owed to American companies are long-term conversations. However, in terms of the economy, they can keep taking a percentage off the value of the US dollar, which they said they will continue to do until American banks open business in Cuba and foreign exchange rates are set, so that the dollar can be used in Cuba. There is also the topic of tourism in Cuba. There are many companies that are interested in conducting business in the Island. This will likely be the easiest topic of conversation between both countries. The United States wants to show that they have made some progress. We want to be able to demonstrate that things are getting better.”


COMMISSIONER SUAREZ ON TRANSIT: City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez was on “Al Ritmo de Miami” on Radio Mambi 710AM, talking about transportation with Humberto Cortina.

Cortina started the interview talking about the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). Suarez, who also serves as Vice Chair of the MPO, explained how the organization works and how it is funded. “We have the obligation to manage, plan and justify how we spend federal funds for transportation and mass transit projects. It is not just limited to roads, in the future it will hopefully include rapid transit for Miami-Dade.” The commissioner continued, “living in Miami and knowing how dense the population is, my initial suggestion was that although expanding roadways was important, the focus should change to working on different options for residents to get to and from work without using their cars.” Suarez praised his colleagues, including County Commissioners Esteban Bovo, Xavier Suarez, and Dennis Moss, “who are heavily involved in creating better mass transit solutions.” Suarez talked about the structure of the MPO and discussed his proposal to make mass transit the highest priority for the county. For Suarez, this was very important and “it created a resolution that made the MPO make a unanimous decision and showed state agencies that we had reached a consensus. The SMART plan will bring mass rapid transit to Miami-Dade through six separate lines.” He discussed the routes in detail, how each corridor would work, and the cost of building some of the infrastructure. “We need to connect residents to transit systems that will actually take people to their jobs and back. Our system right now is basic, and it isn’t that effective.” Suarez concluded on how the MPO has been internally reformed thanks in part to Commission Chair and MPO President, Jean Monestime, “who organized committees within the organization that will plan this transportation lines.”


EFFECTS OF SEA LEVEL RISE: Yoly Cuello had Florida International University’s School of Environment Professor Dr. Henry Briceño discussing issues related to rising sea levels on “Noticias del Mediodia” on Caracol 1260AM.

Briceño initially focused on the quality of water that goes into Biscayne Bay after a flood. “Even before there were water pumps, the water that flooded the city, which then ended up in Biscayne Bay, had problems when it comes to water quality. Many say that the water pumps dump contaminated water, but it is not because of the pumps. The water that floods the cities is sea water. The issue is that when this happens, water from under the city comes out, specially where there are old or fractured pipes. What is in those pipes comes out, along with metals and chemicals that make the water saltier.” He continued, “the City of Miami Beach has done a good job when it comes to these pumps, it is a way of getting ahead of the rising sea level problem.” When asked how we could avoid contamination due to flooding, Briceño responded, “making sure the pipes are not broken is one of the main things to pay attention to.” Briceño concluded, “it is not just keeping the cities dry, but how to maintain Biscayne Bay clean and healthy. It is important for cities to figure out what areas are in most danger, and take engineering measures to prevent any issues.”