Fabiola Santiago

No Latinos in Trump Cabinet, a first since Reagan

Donald Trump poses with some of his Hispanic hospitality staff at Trump National Doral on Oct. 25.
Donald Trump poses with some of his Hispanic hospitality staff at Trump National Doral on Oct. 25. AP

For the first time in almost 30 years, there won’t be a Latino among the president’s Cabinet appointments.

President Donald Trump is snubbing a whole lot of history, heritage — and the largest and fastest-growing minority group in modern-day America.

I know President Trump doesn’t read books. He’s not an intellectual — not that you have to be one to read, but that’s how low standards have fallen — and he’s very proud of it, as are his supporters. But they all could stand to soak up a little history. It helps with the bigger picture. I’ll make it simpler and more concise than Wikipedia.

The Spanish were the first European settlers of this land, here an entire century before the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony. For even longer in the southwest, most of the territory was Mexico’s. That’s why it wasn’t surprising that the first Hispanic appointed to a Cabinet level position by President Ronald Reagan was sixth-generation Texan Lauro Cavazos. Mexicans were an integral part of the original USA. The only surprising thing is that it actually took until 1988 to make such an appointment. It might have never happened without a civil-rights movement.

As for Florida, the swing state that positioned Donald Trump on the course to electoral college victory, it was first ruled by the Spanish governor of Havana after Ponce de Leon came upon these shores in 1513. The first boat émigrés were not Cubans or Bahamians coming to Miami, but native Tequesta fleeing to Cuba to escape the invading Creeks from the north. It wasn’t until 1763 that the Spanish, having lost Havana to a British invasion, traded Florida to get the Caribbean jewel back.

This is why I smile every time a Trump supporter writes me, “Go home.” I am home.

Besides all that, President Trump is also giving the cold-shoulder to the bipartisan narrative of inclusion, adopted in the aftermath of the civil-rights movement after many more years of struggle and, we thought, firmly planted in the nation’s conscience with the election of the first black president in 2008.

With Trump’s Cabinet appointments we’ve gone back to the era when white-male elites began to practice tentative tokenism, meaning one minority for all. Trump, who called the lone black man at one of his campaign rallies “my African American,” has appointed mostly white men and Ben Carson, nominated secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Taiwan-born Elaine Chao, appointed secretary of Labor.

But, really, what else can one expect from the real estate mogul who ran an anti-immigrant campaign and never renounced the white supremacists who claimed him as their own?

The confirmation hearing for Donald Trump's nomination for Attorney General began with a raucous disruption when two protesters wearing white sheets and Ku Klux Klan hats were escorted from the hearing.

Trump’s Cabinet looks nothing like America. Compare it to the photograph of President Barack Obama’s diverse Cabinet or to the history of Latino appointments that preceded Obama’s historic presidency.

But representation isn’t Trump’s thing, and the fact that Hispanics constitute the largest and fastest growing minority group doesn’t ring any bells. Hispanics served him to help give him Florida — and as Trump’s original hate bait before he moved on to Muslims. Judging by his own words and actions, it’s safe to say he’s fond of us as service personnel for his hotels.

Talking to reporters from his golf course in Virginia in the summer of 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump boasted: “The Latinos love Trump and I love them.”

This, after he had launched his presidential campaign days earlier using incendiary false statements linking Mexican immigrants to crimes and vowing to build a wall at the border with Mexico.

“I do great with Latino voters,” Trump insisted. “I employ so many Latinos. I have so many people working for me. I’m a job creator. I create jobs. I’m a master job creator. No politician knows how to create jobs. They’re all talk, they’re no action. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Months later in Miami, he flaunted before the media some of his Hispanic hospitality staff at Trump National Doral, and awkwardly, had them come up to the microphone to tell the media how great he was and how much they loved him.

And this is how Trump pays them back.

Asked by The Washington Post about the lack of Latinos in top posts, Trump’s incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said they still have 5,000 positions to fill.

“I think you’re going to see a very, very strong presence of the Hispanic community in his administration,” Spicer said.

You know how he loves those Latinos in hospitality, just not in any top job so far.

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