The most staunch supporters of the president flood the city in search of a key victory for re-election
Miami is no longer the Miami you imagine. The coronavirus crisis has silenced hundreds of bars and nightclubs that timidly open their doors again and with restricted hours. This Sunday around six in the afternoon, the emblematic Calle 8 in the heart of Little Havana was a quiet and peaceful place. Until they arrived. The engines of the mighty pickup trucks pick-up they roared from the start as a first warning. A woman in her forties, with Trump’s name stamped on her chest, was sticking more than half of her body out of the window of a speeding vehicle as she screamed against the sidewalk: “Four more years!” .
It was not the only one. For more than an hour, along this street and other important ones in the city, such as Biscayne Boulevard, the honks of the president’s most staunch followers echoed on restaurant terraces and in traffic. Their cars, converted into floats of an electoral carnival, advanced decorated with United States flags and slogans such as “Trump 2020”, “No to socialism”, “Build the wall.” The diners at the Yung Lai Thai restaurant tried unsuccessfully to carry on with the slightest conversation.
If you just visited this city quickly, you would easily think that the only contender in the next US presidential election is Donald Trump. It is almost impossible, outside of a campaign, to find a poster in favor of the Democratic candidate Joe Biden. In the capital of Cuban exile par excellence, the Democratic candidate is for those who shout, one more heir to the Castro regime. And especially in some areas with the largest Hispanic population of the city, voting for Trump is much more than choosing a president. It is voting for the United States. “It’s about patriotism,” summed up Miami County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Díaz. And to that sentiment they appeal to win 20% of the voters with roots from Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
Under this premise, Trump seeks to win Florida. A key state to win the re-election of the United States, which has 29 of the 270 electoral votes that anyone needs to become president. The polls, two weeks before the elections, suggest that victory is not clear for either of the two candidates. Although Biden remains between one point and two above, it is considered one of the entities that can surprise the election night the most. And that has meant that most of the campaign efforts of both have been concentrated these days in this corner of the south of the country: Trump has traveled twice in the same week and Biden has held events there up to three times in the last month.
About 20 kilometers by car from Little Havana, in Hialeah, the hard core of the Cuban-origin residents of this city, dozens of voters waited in line to cast their early vote on Monday.
“With communism there is no barbiquiú!
A woman in her sixties insistently warned every car moving slowly toward the voting center parking lot from the street. Along with her, two families argued in Spanish without listening to each other, providing almost identical arguments, all against the communist affront that the advance of the Democratic party represents for them. “I know well that what socialism brings is hunger,” a man dressed in a white T-shirt with the Trump logo added to the conversation. “Communism brings nothing but misery,” another woman answered as she devoured a sandwich that chef José Andrés’ food chain was distributing to voters.
Between some cars, Jorge Puertas, 28, was listening to the conversation. His sky blue T-shirt read “Democrats”, but unlike the rest of those present at the entrance of the venue, he did not dialogue with anyone or make an effort to distribute the ballots with the names of the candidates. “For every 16 Republicans there are three Democrats, it is not easy to find them here,” he says.
To the west of the city, in affluent Westchester, the cries for Trump fade. A group of young people, the only one around two in the afternoon of this first day of early voting, explained why they will not vote for Trump and how their parents have changed the vote for the first time towards the Democratic party. “It’s not about being on the left, it’s about going in favor of human rights,” says Stephanie Robaina, 28, in English. His parents emigrated from Cuba in the 1990s and are part of that group of moderate Republican voters that Biden seeks to conquer, in favor of the party’s ideological discourse, but against the despotic drift represented by its leader.
Behind him, another young man wearing a mask in favor of the president complains to another colleague in line. “Look at all the press looking like crazy for Biden. And their polls say that he is going to win. In the distance, the loudspeakers of a truck burst into this quiet and orderly voting center with a catchy sauce: “I’m going to vote [suenan timbales] by Donald Trump ”. The noise of Miami belongs these days of pandemic to the most radical Trumpism parade.
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