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Miami’s Osvaldo Soto, Pioneering Cuban American Lawyer Who Fought Discrimination, Dies At 91

OsvaldoSoto
Roberto Koltun
/
El Nuevo Herald
Osvaldo Soto, a pioneering Cuban-American lawyer, died at 91.

Amid the anti-Hispanic backlashes in the early 1980s, Miami’s then-clerk of courts made a decision that seems unthinkable today — the banning of marriages from being conducted in anything but English. Osvaldo Soto’s response: he set up an open-air wedding chapel in a Little Havana parking lot and offered free Spanish-language marriages.

“Ahora los declaro marido y mujer. Felicidades,” Soto told the first couple there. I now declare you husband and wife. Congratulations.

The episode in 1984 was but one small fight in his lifelong crusade against discrimination in Miami, where over decades he became a revered figure fighting on behalf of Miami’s Hispanic and minority communities. Soto, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, died Saturday of natural causes at age 91.

Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.