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The Rise Of The Cuban-American Democrat

Raul Martinez.jpg


The Cuban-American Democrat. It is an unusual breed in Florida.

Since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 made the Democratic administration of John F. Kennedy look bad, and caused many Cubans to flee their homeland forever,  El Exilio community in South Florida especially has been strongly Republican.

But that's beginning to change. Some exit polling indicated Cubans nearly split their vote between President Obama and Mitt Romney this past election, something that has never happened.

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, wasn't surprised.  

"Our message was extremely positive and about moving the country forward. It was jobs and taking care of the middle class, and not the top 1 or 2 percent of the country," she said.

Helping to turn the tide is the recent election of Joe Garcia as the first Florida Cuban-American Democrat in Congress.

While at Garcia's swearing in last week, I bumped in to former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, who for many years was the standard bearer as the most  prominent Cuban Democrat in South Florida.  Martinez says he paid the ultimate political price for bucking the trend.

Martinez is still fuming after being indicted and removed from office by former federal prosecutor Dexter Lehtinen after embarking on a Congressional campaign in 1989.

Lehtinen is the husband of the woman who eventually won that election, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who still holds that seat today.

Hear the story and the interview with Martinez by clicking on the link at the top of this page.