Officials gathered to discuss why they support Senator Elizabeth Warren for the presidency at an event called “Cafecito Con Warren” at Gramps bar in Miami on Saturday.
About two dozen people packed the room inside Gramps. Posters like “Demócrata por Warren” and “Latinx With Warren” were plastered on the walls. Tomas Alcala, Statewide Latino Constituency Director for the Warren Campaign, offered cafecitos to attendees while Salsa music like “Bang Bang” by the Joe Cuba Sextet played over the speakers.
State Rep. Cindy Polo, Former Obama White House Staffer Patrick Hidalgo, Juan Cuba, former chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and writer, Ana Sofía Peláez shared why they support Warren.
The policy proposals they discussed included Warren’s Medicare for All plan, her Ultra-Millionaire Tax, and her proposal to quadruple Title I funding, which benefits education. However, most of the discussion centered around panelists’ personal connection to Warren.
Polo, who grew up in Hialeah and is a daughter of immigrant parents, said politics are personal.
“And that is what’s missing, because I have 119 colleagues [in the Florida House]..they grab the mic and they don’t feel the pain of the folks they are debating about,” she said.
For Polo, Warren is the opposite of that.
“I felt that every time she spoke about somebody’s struggle is because she knew. She knew what it was like to be a mom. She knew what it was like to be a teacher. She knew what it was like to be a woman treated like crap in this world,” Polo said.
The sentiment was ricocheted by Hidalgo, whose voice trembled as he began talking about his mother.
“My mom didn’t have healthcare between 60 and 65, and that would have been an ideal time where she would’ve gotten heart surgery,” he said on the verge of tears. “I’ll just say what Cindy said, it's deeply personal, and my mom passed away a year and a half ago, so for me like I don’t [care] if I offend my friends who love Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete [Buttigieg], or whatever, I’m like guys, that’s not it.”
Hidalgo added that he would support Sen. Bernie Sanders if he got the nomination, but criticized his recent comments about Cuba. “So, I think the future of this country is being able to hold corporate interests accountable and also like not letting the anger consume us.”
The sentiment that Warren is personable was shared by Marvin Cruz, 24, who attended the event with his sister, Sarai Cruz, 26.
A first-time presidential voter, Marvin Cruz, said he hasn’t been very involved in politics until now, but he likes Warren because she brings people together.
“What I love about what she’s doing is she’s talking from the heart,” he said.
The Latinx Vote in Florida
So far, Warren, hasn’t fared well with Latinxs. In the Nevada Caucus, which had a much larger Latinx population than New Hampshire and Iowa, Sanders got 50 percent of the Latinx vote, compared to Warren’s 7 percent, which placed her behind Biden and Buttigieg.
But Sarai Cruz, whose parents fled Nicaragua, said that in Florida there’s “a different type of Latino experience.” They might have traumatic associations with communist regimes, referencing Senator Sanders’ recent statements about Cuba.
“It's not a horrible statement, but the way he said it, and the way he doesn’t want to address the fear and the trauma that people have experienced under a socialist regime, that might hurt him here in Florida, and especially in Miami,” she said.
Despite the comments, a recent St. Pete Polls placed Sanders ahead of Warren in the Florida Primary, at No. 3 with 13 percent of the vote, compared to Warren at No. 5 with 5.4 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden led the poll, 33.8 percent.
“We don’t follow polls in this campaign,” Alcala said. He added that the Warren campaign has raised the most money it ever has, and brought in the most amount of volunteers, but did not give specific figures. A campaign memo later revealed that the Warren campaign received $29 million in Febrary, more in one month than in any previous quarter.
Monday is the first day of early voting in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Election Day is March 17.