Fabiola Santiago

Latin Builders show more courage than Rubio, who’s still backing dictator wanna-be

In this file photo Sen. Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump appear at a Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Houston on Feb. 25. Rubio said Tuesday he will continue to support Trump despite the presidential candidate’s vulgar comments in a video made public last week.
In this file photo Sen. Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump appear at a Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Houston on Feb. 25. Rubio said Tuesday he will continue to support Trump despite the presidential candidate’s vulgar comments in a video made public last week. AP

In a night of historic political degradation, Donald Trump explicitly pledged that, if elected, he would investigate and imprison his political opponent.

That’s exactly what Nicolás Maduro is doing right now to stay in power in crumbling Venezuela.

That’s exactly how Raúl Castro handles dissent in Cuba, no matter how peaceful.

That’s exactly what Fidel Castro did when he rose to power in 1959. He threw every political opponent in prison. He and his rebel cadre held summary trials that only delivered one verdict: guilty. His impassioned supporters chanted “Paredón, paredón!” clamoring for executions — and the Castro brothers obliged.

Who would have ever thought that for us Cuban Americans the circle would close in 2016, and we would be witnessing the threat of a dictatorial figure coming within close reach of the presidency in America?

Especially in Miami, Trump’s warning to Hillary Clinton that if he wins, he will jail her — a clear danger to democracy and more evidence of Trump’s authoritarian disposition — should’ve emptied the well of Trump supporters after Sunday’s second presidential debate.

It did bring to light one historic endorsement: The Latin Builders Association, one of the most politically influential business groups in Miami, for the first time in its 41-year history endorsed a Democrat, backing Clinton. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican in a non-partisan position, also endorsed Clinton.

“The temperament issue, for a lot of us, it weighed heavily on the decision,” LBA President Alex Lastra told the Miami Herald.

Yet, Sen. Marco Rubio — Cuban-American son of Miami, tireless Senate orator against dictatorship — is still backing Trump, whom he called “a con man” during the Republican primary.

“I disagree with him on many things, but I disagree with his opponent on virtually everything,” Rubio said Tuesday in a statement he keeps repeating like a mantra. “I wish we had better choices for President. But I do not want Hillary Clinton to be our next President. And therefore my position has not changed.”

For him — and for too many Cuban Americans who excuse every Trump shortcoming and spouse Fox News conspiracy theory as truth — it’s party ahead not only of country, but of heritage and history lessons.

Por el partido, todo, just like in Cuba, where the motto everyone must live by is inside the party, everything; outside of it, nothing.

How sad and disappointing it is to hear Cuban-American Trump supporters married to that view here and now.

Doesn’t supporting a dictatorial figure like Trump, a man who is passing along falsehoods fed to his campaign by Vladimir Putin’s people, demean the democratic principles we’ve fought for decades in exile?

How can hardliners like Rubio claim that the Cuban government is still so dangerous it plans to acquiesce to Russia’s desire to have a military base in Cuba — and still support Trump, a confessed admirer of Putin?

How can Rubio criticize the Obama administration for lifting some sanctions and restoring diplomatic relations at the same time he is supporting a would-be president who has on two separate decades — and in violation of the embargo — tried to do business in Cuba?

No, Marco Rubio can’t pin this one on the will of the voters in Middle America who chose Trump as the GOP nominee because he does know better.

In fact, he was right. Trump is a con man.

He values greed and stands for nothing but his own aggrandizement. He demeans women, boasts of sexually assaulting them, and feeds the country a daily dose of hate. He would be a president not apt for our children to watch on television, much less admire with pride.

Cuban Americans earned hard-fought respect in this country because we deliver our message in the most powerful of ways: We vote — and we have the ability to deliver Florida.

These days, we’re a more sophisticated electorate than ever. The LBA endorsement of Clinton, who brings qualifications and a lifetime of public service to the presidency, reflects it.

The LBA has displayed more political courage than Marco Rubio.

The senator should lead, not follow those impassioned Trump supporters hollering “Jail her! Lock her up!” and holding signs with a political opponent’s photograph behind bars.

They remind me of those eerie, shameful chants of paredón.

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