The realities of Cubans and Venezuelans in Miami are so intertwined that what hits each other. Exiled from left-wing governments, they migrated after an American dream whose survival they believe only Donald Trump guarantees them.
“I came to this country basically because here is a right to talk and think as one wants, that there is not there,” says Venezuelan Daniel Benaím, a 59-year-old audiovisual producer who left Venezuela a decade ago.
And while Trump has things he dislikes, such as “personal attacks and the use of nicknames,” he fears that the opposition party, the Democrat, is “driven by pretty far-left forces.”
According to a North Florida University (UNF) poll, seven out of 10 Venezuelans in Florida will vote for Trump for that reason.
Although few in number (50,000 voters), Venezuelans of any political color, whose country is dying in a severe economic and social crisis, have an impact among Florida Cubans, who have been in the same lid for 60 years.
And the rest of the Latinos, especially Colombians, Ecuadorians and Nicaraguans, witness the consequences for the region of the Venezuelan crisis and the massive exodus it produced, because their countries were directly affected in one way or another.
This is why “Venezuela”, “Cuba” and “communism” are keywords that motivate Florida Hispanics, who make up 17% of a 14 million electorates for the November 3 election.
Carlos Rizo, a 52-year-old Cuban who migrated 25 years ago, tells that Trump “represents freedom.”
“And it represents everything we would have wanted in our countries not to have to migrate to another country,” he said at a recent meeting of Miami Latinos with Trump.
Most polls show a technical tie between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden in Florida, mainly thanks to the Cuban-American vote.
A Florida International University (FIU) poll released Friday found that six out of every 10 Miami Cubans support the president, twice as many as supporters in the 2016 election.
“Everything can be”
Trump’s strategy has been to ensure that his rival Biden would lead the country down a similar path to Cuba and Venezuela.
Benaím claims that it has not been manipulated, but is on guard for its experience in Venezuela, which until 20 years ago was striving to be one of the strongest and most prosperous democracies in Latin America.
“I’m afraid they’ll wipe out the fundamentals of this country,” he explains, speaking of a hypothetical Democratic victory in America.
“The average American says that’s impossible. But we also thought it was impossible. And if there’s one thing Venezuelans know, it’s that exceptionalism doesn’t exist. Everything can be,” he warns.
The Democratic campaign vehemently denies these fears. “I defeated the socialist,” Biden says in a recent announcement. “Look at my career, my whole career. I’m not a socialist.”
In this sense, Venezuelan Michel Hausmann, who runs the Miami New Drama theatre company in Miami Beach, also asked in an open letter, “How is it possible to say, so lightly (and ignorance) that Biden is ‘socialist’?”
How can we, he went on, ignore “the Trump administration’s distinctly autocratic, despotic, undemocratic traits, especially when we Venezuelans have spent twenty years looking authoritarianism in the face?”
GENERATIONS OF REPUBLICANS
But Trump, who needs Florida’s 29 electoral votes to win the 270 needed to stay in the White House, has the ability to easily tie up the anti-communist fervor of Florin Latinos.
Recently, for example, it further tightened sanctions against Cuba.
“Today we reaffirm our strong solidarity with the Cuban people and our eternal conviction that freedom will prevail over the sinister forces of communism,” the president said.
Cuban-American Johnny Lopez de la Cruz, chairman of the veterans’ group of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, called on Trump to continue working to “rid the world of these corrupt drug-terrorism and communist regimes.”
“Cuba must be free again after 60 years of communism. People are suffering there, as well as in Venezuela and Nicaragua,” he added.
Randy Pestana, an expert at Florida International University, says Venezuelans have assimilated to Miami Cubans.
He also recalls that they became Republicans, and thus passed it on to subsequent generations, starting with the failure of Democratic President John F. Kennedy in Bay of Pigs, which the Cubans interpreted as a “betrayal.”
Today, “Venezuelans are the same for Republicans,” Pestana says. “That’s the strategy. May Venezuelans believe that Republicans are the party that will seek democratic change in their country. Even if they don’t make it.”
He added: “They just have to make them believe that they are advocating for Venezuela and will have 50 years of Venezuelans voting Republican in every election cycle.”