Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: Here comes the anti-Cuban slam from the Donald Trump crowd

Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz AP

In Vermont and Minnesota, the robocall message from the American National PAC, in the voice of a self-described farmer and white nationalist, urges voters point-blank: “Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.”

In Florida, the latest polls show Republicans are doing just that: Voting for Trump, not native son Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American.

And in Miami, a rare bird re-emerges — the openly racist white American.

A registered nurse named Joanne leaves me a voicemail: “You know, not all of us hate Donald Trump, a lot of us are Americans and we loved our country the way it was before all you Cubans came over here.... Go back to Cuba and take – take! – Obama with you.”

Here it comes: The race-baiting, ethnic-bashing, religion-slamming that has been the hallmark of the Donald Trump candidacy has found another target — Cuban-Americans. It’s our turn to be vilified and pit against others by the leading Republican charlatan’s adoring throng of supporters.

From day one, the reality show billionaire has built a tremendous following catering to white supremacists with boisterous lies and attacks on minority groups. His campaign rallies are like white-power revival meetings from which blacks and Hispanics have been aggressively kicked out.

After the “Don’t vote for a Cuban” calls, for the first time Cuban-Americans are riled up.

And I have to ask: Where were you when Trump was defaming Mexicans? Or chastising Univision anchor Jorge Ramos for asking tough questions? Or spreading lies about Muslims? Repeating the falsehoods, supporting his ban. Where were you when Trump was badmouthing women? Oh, so silent.

It was only a matter of time and positioning before Trump supporters resorted to playing the anti-Cuban card. With two Cuban-American rivals for the GOP nomination on his heels, Jeb Bush out of the race and most his supporters folding into the Marco Rubio camp, the time is now.

The nurse who left me the hate-filled message tends to the sick in Miami-Dade, where almost 70 percent of the population is Hispanic, the majority Cubans. If she feels free to insult a journalist who can easily track her down, can you imagine how she must treat her helpless patients? But that’s the kind of people Trump inspires.

People like her had become an anomaly in modern-day Miami.

If they existed, after the demographic shift in the 1980s dubbed “White Flight” made them a tiny minority within a minority, they kept their hate in check. Until the Trump candidacy came along, I had not heard again the sort of nastiness we were subjected to back in the day. Remember the battle cry, “Will the last American to leave Miami please bring the flag?”

The flag stayed and Cuban-Americans, mostly Republicans but some notable Democrats, too, rose to high public office.

Now Trump is the monster the GOP created with the hate talk, obstructionism and disrespect shown — from the halls of Congress to local airwaves — toward the first black American president. His campaign denies any ties to the robocalls or the PAC.

But Trump has made it okay for supremacists to think they have the right to decide who’s pure enough to be called an American — and that rare bird of hate in Miami is back.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments