“‘Miami’ is a code for a lot of things in Florida insider politics, among them the perception of Miami as the home of corrupt Cuban American politicians,” Rubio wrote in his recently published autobiography, An American Son.
Rubio doesn’t have instant support from other Hispanics just because he’s Cuban. Quite the opposite, for some. Many immigrants, particularly those from Mexico and Central America, resent the special immigration privileges that give Cubans legal residency as soon as their feet touch U.S. soil.
Democrats are making much of the fact that Rubio, who has an outside chance of being Mitt Romney’s presidential running mate, would have opposed the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the “wise Latina” pride of the Puerto Rican community.
Democrats also point out that Rubio has opposed the pro-immigrant DREAM Act and voiced support for Arizona’s right to pass its illegal immigration crackdown law, which likely Hispanic voters opposed by a 2-1 ratio in The Miami Herald’s latest Florida poll.
Rubio’s supporters have decried the “ethnic politics” of the Democrats, but they’re prone to it as well. Some noted the countries of origin of Spanish and Colombian reporters who wrote critical stories about Rubio last year.
The rivalries, friendly and not, between Hispanics from different countries aren’t limited to politics. You can hear them play out during kids’ soccer matches or, sometimes, in the workplace.
Complicating the matter further is the fact that Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. There are black and white Hispanics.
A decade ago, Florida Democrats essentially argued in federal court that black Hispanics can’t be considered truly black. Democrats made the pathetic argument in their unsuccessful lawsuit to block GOP-drawn congressional and state legislative districts, which concentrated 90 percent of Florida’s Cuban-Americans in three Miami-based congressional districts.
In the past decade, the proportions of non-Cuban Hispanics have grown faster in Florida than for Cuban Hispanics. Of the 1.5 million registered Hispanic voters now, 36 percent are Cuban, 32 percent Puerto Rican and 21 percent are of Central and South American descent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
With the growth in the overall Hispanic population, Umatilla Republican Sen. Alan Hays said in his deep Southern drawl last year that the state should check the immigration status of some “Hispanic-speaking people” before all the political districts were drawn this year following the Census.
Some legislative districts were combined and pitted a handful of sitting lawmakers against each other, like Logan and Diaz, who has complained that Rivas Logan’s supporters have called him gay.
But he didn’t get choked up over it. It’s not like he was called “Nicaraguan.”