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Florida's Cut Of Opioid Settlement, Mass Evictions Expected, And A Cuban Holiday Amid Protests

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PEDRO PORTAL
/
Miami Herald
Hundreds of people gathered outside Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana Sunday afternoon in solidarity with the demonstrations in Cuba protesting against the communist regime.

Florida could be receiving more than $1 billion as part of a national settlement against pharmaceutical companies. The federal evictions moratorium nears its end, with no extension expected. Plus, 68 years ago marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. The significance of July 26 — as protests against the regime continue.

On this, Monday, July 26, episode of Sundial

Florida's Cut Of National Opioid Settlement

Palm Beach County saw a 23% increase in opioid overdose deaths since 2019— it’s a number that’s also increasing nationwide.

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“A lot of people have forgotten about the opioid epidemic in the face of this global pandemic. But the global pandemic didn't make the epidemic go away. In fact, [it] made it worse,” said the county’s state attorney, Dave Aronberg.

The social distancing and isolation guidelines that came with COVID-19 put people in more vulnerable situations and also kept people from receiving the help they needed, like group counseling sessions, Aronberg added.

The majority of accidental deaths stem from the powerful opioid called fentanyl. In its annual report to county officials, the medical examiner’s office cited 86% of cases in 2020 that included the narcotic drug, which is stronger than morphine and heroin.

The state is about to get more than $1.3 billion from a major settlement against pharmaceutical companies.

“We need the funds. The county had a lot of unreimbursed costs to pay for this opioid epidemic. Just think of all the firefighters and ambulances and the Narcan, which is the drug used to reverse an overdose, all those man hours,” Aronberg said.

State officials haven’t announced how they will distribute the funds from this settlement.

Florida's Cut In National Opioid Settlement
Prescriptions for opioid painkillers increased, and so did incidents of opioid addiction.

Mass Evictions Expected

Many residents could lose their house or an apartment as the federal eviction moratorium comes to an end Sunday.

The Biden administration has said those protections for people who are unable to pay rent would not be renewed.

“I’m most worried about many of those families that are in that number of over 4,000 were already rent and cost [burdened] to pay that amount. If those evictions go through, where will they go? Because they could not already afford to live where they were living. And the availability of affordable homes is slim to none,” said Daniella Pierre, the president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP and a housing advocate.

Experts warn that the amount of eviction cases that will come out of this has the potential to overwhelm the legal system and public resources — like shelters for the unhoused and hospitals.

“We do not know how many people [the] lifting of the eviction moratorium will impact,” said attorney Denita Jones, with Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. “It could have an immense impact on our children and our families in Palm Beach County. I will tell you that we definitely need all hands on deck.”

Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Kim Stokes has been pushing for the city to expand legal aid services for those in need, with help from the $16 million in funding the city is receiving from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“There's kind of a sense with some of my peers, and even our city attorney, that the county has it covered and the city doesn't really need to worry about it. But I just don't share that sentiment. I'm really worried that the legal aid is going to get overwhelmed. And I want us to do our part to help,” Stokes said.

Mass Evictions Expected
Protesters call for support for tenants and homeowners at risk of eviction during a demonstration on Oct. 11 in Boston. A federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of December.

The Significance Of Cuba's Pro-Government Holiday As Protests Continue

Monday marks 68 years since the start of the Cuban Revolution.

July 26, 1953, the day when Fidel Castro led a group of rebels to attack the Moncada Barracks — which was an army facility in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Castro was caught and did time in jail. The attack was a failure but it was successful in starting a revolution.

Only a few years later, in 1959, Castro and other revolutionary leaders would be back on the island claiming victory.

For years, the communist government has celebrated it annually as the Day of the Revolution — or Dia de la Revolución.

“That became the most important holiday in Cuba. Christmas was canceled. All the national holidays passed to a secondary position,” said Sebastian Arcos, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.

He added that the people on the island didn’t have a say in making that day a national holiday.

But this year is different. Cubans from South Florida, to Washington D.C. — to all over the world — are in the streets protesting against the regime that came out of that revolution.

“[Cubans] are tired of lies. They are tired of misery. They are tired of people telling them to sacrifice for the future when they have been waiting for that future for 60-some years,” Arcos said.

This most recent unrest was sparked by the historic pro-democracy protests that broke out on the island on July 11, 2021 — these were protests on a scale not seen since the revolution more than half a century ago.

“They went out demanding what they know that they need — freedom. And I can guarantee you that once this nightmare is over for Cubans, the date that they will celebrate in July will no longer be July 26. It will be July 11,” Arcos said.

The Significance Of Cuba's Pro-Government Holiday As Protests Continue
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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.