Tuesday morning's Miami kickoff for the Latinos for Trump Coalition was just like most other rallies supporting the president's reelection — except much of the messaging was done in Spanish.
White House communications director Mercedes Schlapp, a Cuban American, established the Latino atmosphere by speaking in Spanish about how she wanted some cafecito cubano.
Chants of “Libertad,” “Viva Cuba,” “Viva Venezuela,” and even some of “Viva Trump,” rang out at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel by the Miami airport where Vice President Mike Pence announced the coalition, praised Latino supporters, and encouraged 2020’s largest minority voting group to join Trump’s reelection campaign.
“From the first day of this administration,” Pence said, “President Trump has been fighting with the values that are synonymous with Hispanic and Latino Americans: hard work, faith, family, freedom … and the American dream.”
Pence praised the “rich heritage and profound faith” of Latinos and their contributions to the economy and the military. He denounced the communist regime of Cuba and said he stands for a Cuba libre, prompting loud cheers.
He also commended the Mexican government for deploying its National Guard to prevent Central American migrants from reaching the U.S. border to seek asylum.
When Pence praised a specific successful Latina business owner in the crowd, a cry of “Viva Colombia!” broke out and was met by “Que viva!,” prompting other Latino supporters to shout out their home countries and cheer for them.
Prior to the vice president’s arrival, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez assured the crowd that among Trump’s many promises to Latinos, like more jobs and lower texas, he has stood against socialism in Latin America, a meaningful point for his supporters.
“He promised to stand firm against tyrants like Nicolás Maduro, and he will never accept socialist regimes to take hold in Latin America,” said Núñez, the first Latina in Florida to hold her place in office. “He will continue to fight for freedom and democracy.”
An overwhelming majority of those attending were of Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan descent, who have rallied around Trump’s statements that “America will never be a socialist country” out of resentment for the repressive socialist governments of their home countries.
In the crowd, Cuban-American Gilbert Fonticoba, who supports the right-wing Proud Boys movement, said most Latinos voted Democratic because they were “brainwashed” by the media. Proud Boys has been designated a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.
Fonticoba said that Trump supports Latino immigrants who migrate legally with documents. Under the Trump administration, the number of Cubans in immigration detention has increased.
“I have no sympathy for even Cubans,” he said. “Even though I’m a Cuban, if you didn’t do it right, too bad my friend, you gotta go.”
Enrique Tarrio, the chair of the hate group and also a Florida director for Latinos for Trump, said that even he “didn’t agree 100 percent with the president” on certain issues, but that he fully supported him as a Latino of Afro-Cuban descent.
The Trump administration’s support for Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó in an effort to defeat the Maduro regime resonates with Katherine Santamaría, a recent immigrant from Barranquilla, Colombia, who is concerned for her sister country.
“I know that he may suddenly have very strong positions on the situation on the border, but we should look at the good side,” Santamaría said. “We should see how he is supporting Venezuelans, and that he has a good disposition if he is helping a country that is in crisis.”
As an immigrant from Caracas, Venezuela, and a longtime Miami resident, Emilia Maestre is one of the many Venezuelans motivated to support the president.
“This country is made up of immigrants, and I believe it’s time for him to support Venezuelans and everyone who really needs to be in this country because of humanitarian reasons,” Maestre said.
She said that the administration should be sympathetic toward Temporary Protected Status and asylum grants for Venezuelan refugees.
“We ask him to support immigrants more,” she added.