Politics

The Uninspired Opposition

By the time the big name speakers were done and gone, the line of cars along 87th Avenue flanking the right southbound lane was still backed up for a quarter of a mile as more Venezuelans continued to arrive – hours late – to a12 o’clock-scheduled rally at Doral Central Park.

The energy of the crowd was decidedly lukewarm and never really numbered more than a thousand people at one time. Jose Antonio Colina, who leads many of these Venezuelan opposition events in Miami, was visibly frustrated with the people’s laissez faire disposition on this mildly hot Saturday afternoon and tried teasing them with jokes, at first. As the proceedings moved on, the attendees’ demeanor was not meeting with the former military man’s expectations. Eventually, Colina resorted to cheerleading at the top of his lungs over already booming speakers hoping, fruitlessly, to elicit a response in kind.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Venezuelan expats gathered behind barricades for a pro-Guaidó rally in Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Some on the portable stage, towed there earlier, seemed to credit the weather via indirect remarks for the seeming lack of emotion. But, it was not particularly warm for South Florida standards and definitely far less humid than usual. No. This wasn’t a weather-related dud of a crowd. Perhaps, deep down, they all knew something was wrong.

A Telegraphed Coup

Few were caught off guard when Juan Guaidó swore himself in as president of Venezuela last week. The systematic attacks against the Maduro regime by the Atlanticist axis, led by U.S. economic sanctions, manipulation of oil prices and outright theft of sovereign assets in excess of a billion dollars have had the desired result in the South American country. Buttressed by sabotage from oligarchic factions within the country itself, which (contrary to Western media propaganda) control important business sectors, the nation’s economy has been brought to its knees. Guaidó’s “inauguration” was simply part of the same, ongoing subversive operation.

The usual suspects immediately declared themselves on Twitter, which seems to be the platform of choice for dissemination of Atlanticist discourse. Senator Marco Rubio came out ahead of the rest, throwing his total support behind the CIA-bred usurper and rallying the other pro-coup members of the house and senate. The Tweeter-in-Chief chimed in soon enough and the chorus began to regurgitate the party line around the globe. Brazil, recently fitted with their very own far-right, rich man’s populist was among the first countries to ratify the brazen affront to national sovereignty. A slew of aligned governments around the world followed in tow and the lapdog press has been treating Maduro’s downfall as a fiat accompli.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Retired Venezuelan military officer, Jose Antonio Colina, addresses rally-goers at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The reality, of course, is much different. Maduro remains in control as the Venezuelan military and a big enough base continues to support him. Washington’s de jure president has been appointing his cabinet while embassy hopping; hiding first in the American and then the Colombian embassy – as has been reported. Meanwhile, Maduro has offered to hold a dialogue with the pretender; a strange move for a so-called “dictator”. Guaidó, predictably declined to entertain the idea as such optics would ruin the pretense.

Speaking of pretense, all of it was dropped when Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, matter-of-factly stated America’s intention of taking Venezuela’s oil as ransom. Such imperialist candor is very 21st century, ushered in as it was by the controlled demolition of two skyscrapers and a CIA vault (building 7) and subsequent declaration of perpetual war. The real estate developer cum reality star Donald has taken it to the next level, of course. The “open conspiracy” is here and Venezuela is quickly becoming a case study on how the world’s only superpower plans on flexing its muscle hereafter.

Guaidó himself issued a formal request for a U.S. invasion of his own country within the first 24 hours of self-appointing himself head of the Venezuelan people, cloaking it as “humanitarian aid”. The news cycle, currently embroiled in another tabloid scandal involving high school yearbooks, has not kept us abreast of the progress of his request. But, we can be sure it is being processed.

Exiles in Arms

Almost from the get-go at Doral Central Park, a distinction was drawn between those who are waiting to return to Venezuela and those residing permanently in Miami; the latter being the largest contingent, by far. Jose Antonio Colina and later, exiled clergyman Jose Palmar, exhorted those present to keep resisting Maduro’s regime from afar.

Palmar fled Venezuela in 2018 via Mexico, after years of criticizing the Bolivarian government of Venezuela on social media and leading anti-government protests. The catholic priest claims he was arrested and tortured by state forces in multiple attacks beginning in 2014. According to Palmar, he became a target after exposing corruption in the state-run oil concern PDVSA back in 2007.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Venezuelan Catholic Priest and political refugee, Jose Palmar, conducts impromptu blessing ceremony on his knees during a pro-Guaidó event at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Given Venezuelans’ ubiquitous religiosity, the father’s emotive delivery managed to generate excitement behind the barricades. It was intended to set the stage for the political luminaries who were about to come on the platform and drive home the message of exile-to-exile solidarity.

First up was Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor of the city of Doral. Cuban-born Bermudez would lead off with references to the Cuban exile experience, assuming a paternalistic tone as he urged Venezuelans to follow the path laid down by his anti-Castro brethren. Bermudez showed no trace of topical awareness when he twice joked about assuming power in Miami-Dade County on account of Mayor Gimenez’ absence. Only his fellow grifters waiting under a small tent beside the stage laughed.

Next up came Miami-Dade Commissioner for district 12, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who laboriously made his way onto the stage and continued with parallels between Venezuela and Cuba, though his shockingly unintelligible Spanish likely precluded anyone present from actually understanding anything he was saying. Florida Senator, Jose Javier Rodriguez, and Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez followed with similar talking points.

In between, a three-headed hydra of the new, pro-war left came on to deliver short, trite speeches. Recently elected Congresswoman, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, struggled to look up from her lengthy notes, while her congressional colleague, Donna Shalala, had nothing much to say beyond a smattering of embarrassingly jumbled Spanish words. Of the three democratic members of the federal government, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was clearly the most prepared and seasoned speaker. Of the three – and possibly of all those present – she also has he most to gain from the events currently unfolding in Venezuela.

Wasserman-Schultz was just appointed to lead the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Her District (22) is home to a number of security firms with extensive links to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and she has a long history of taking money from defense industry sources, including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems.

DORAL, FL – February 2: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz poses with Guaidó supporters at pro-Venezuelan opposition event at Doral Central Park in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Her demeanor on and off stage betrayed the importance she is giving this particular issue. At one point, she walked along the entire barricaded perimeter with her assistant, collecting photo ops with rally-goers. None of the other politicians did anything close. Just the fact that she used this event to build political capital foreshadows bad tidings, as we are left to wonder how she intends to spend it.

Surely, someone in the building only a few yards away can offer an educated guess.

The Overseers

U.S. Southern Command is the head of the spear in American interventions from the Caribbean to Tierra de Fuego. So, it was more than appropriate for this anti-Maduro rally to take place within earshot of Southcom headquarters in Doral. It’s unlikely that any of the people wearing Venezuelan flag colors that day understood where they actually were. Most Americans, to be frank, don’t know what Southcom is or does, either.

They don’t know, for instance, that when this military agency was headquartered in Panama, it played a vital role in assisting right-wing military dictatorships all over South America murder, torture and repress their citizens. Southcom was the central relaying point for intelligence on left-leaning political and social groups in the hemisphere.

They also don’t know, that a few decades ago it became the single lead agency in the interdiction of drugs both inside and outside of the United States. A much more comprehensive treatment of these facts can be found in my recently completed docu-series “Borderline – The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, which is streaming free online.

The so-called drug war, is intimately related to the events happening in Venezuela. As I posit in my series – far from being the failed policy alleged by many – the war on drugs is actually a tool of American hegemony in this hemisphere and beyond.

DORAL, FL – February 2: U.S. Southern Command headquarters visible in the background as attendees to a pro-Guaidó event at Doral Central Park lean against barricades in Doral, Florida on February 2, 2019 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Accusations against the Maduro government of engaging in state-sponsored drug trafficking follow the same pattern utilized against any target country in the farcical drug war. More than once during the rally was the Venezuelan government branded as “Narcoterrorista”, an amalgam between narco-trafficking and terrorism emerging from the neo-con, post-911 perpetual war crew in Washington.

If an invasion of Venezuela does take place, it will be Southcom leading the way. Indeed, thanks to the drug war bilateral agreements signed by Venezuela’s closest neighbors, drug-war-trained troops are already lining up along their borders. It will also displace millions of people, creating an avalanche of refugees and placing undue pressure on neighboring states. Southcom has been preparing to manage an exodus of this magnitude since, at least, 2007 when they published “United States Southern Command Command Strategy 2016 – Partnership for the Americas”.

Unless the army has integrated psychics into their ranks, we should take this as a clear sign that there is much more than meets the eye to what is happening in Venezuela.

Ignorance of Treason is No Excuse

It might not be part of their conscious awareness yet, but the men, women and children who came out to support the Atlanticist coup of Venezuela on Saturday in Doral, Florida seemed to have a funny feeling about the whole affair. Their awkward silences and less than enthusiastic reactions when called to cheer Guaidó’s name revealed that, perhaps, in the back of their minds they don’t really believe this is the right course of action.

Regardless of the very real problems facing the Venezuelan people, much of it critically exacerbated by sabotage from without, the unabashed frothy-mouthed war hawks openly declaring their lust for Venezuela’s oil – the cornerstone of the country’s economy – might have given some of them pause.

After all, what will the future generations of Venezuela say of those who lent their support to the military invasion of a country they no longer call home, but still claim as their own and willingly handed over its most important natural resource to the invaders themselves?

Morbid Curiosity

P.T. Barnum could not have imagined a more salacious character to feature on his marquee posters. Donald Trump doesn’t even need make up; the orange skin, discoloration around the eyes and the bright yellow hair already give him a naturally clownish appearance. The act itself is grotesque. The elephant man, himself, would struggle to cause such revulsion. But, any apprehension by circus-goers, would fail to overcome the irresistible urge to see, once and for all, if the lion will eat the lion tamer.

The 45th President of the United States is the greatest show on earth, and the mainstream media are cashing in day-in and day-out. The Don Lemons, the Rachel Maddows, the Sean Hannities and the Tucker Calrsons climb on their fiber-optic high horses nightly to deliver their inflammatory monologues and preside over faux-opposition panels while behind the big top, animals are whipped and starved in their cages. The business of empire continues unabated while the people are transfixed by the loudmouth on the pulpit. The real actions and persistent policies of the American government are completely ignored.

MAGA hats and border walls make for riveting campaign rallies in the poorly educatednooks and crannies of this nation. Promises to “bring back jobs” and restore America to shining beauty are nothing but empty rhetoric designed to maintain the pretense of a popular base; to keep the illusion of democracy alive and give the voices of political analysts that flavor of sincerity. Underneath the pomposity and vulgarity of the Piñata Don extravaganza, hides an increasingly worried contingent of powerful corporate interests trying to salvage a global investment trade regime, which has been slipping away over the last decade.

The Best Laid Plans

When the Berlin Wall came down in the late eighties, Western investment bankers, lawyers and assorted capitalist enterprises went to work on the world with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers. Decades of slogging through the slow, and – in their eyes – ineffective protocols of the Bern Convention and WIPO, spurred corporate American giants like Pfizer, IBM, Dupont among others to change the focus of world trade from goods and services to intellectual property rights, setting their sights on the ongoing GATT negotiations.

They attacked the Uruguay round of talks, led by Pfizer CEO, Edmund Pratt, and managed to introduce IP into proceedings with the Basic Framework document. Though only a modest gain, it marked a significant victory for American multinationals, most of which relied heavily on investment in research and development to drive growth.

Out of the ashes of GATT, that drew to a close after Uruguay, emerged the WTO. What followed was a deluge of bilateral and multilateral trade deals largely benefiting Western corporations, and a tiny clique of lawyers, who cornered the market on writing, executing and arbitrating any disputes arising from these deals.

Hundreds of trade deals would be signed over the following ten to fifteen years. Riding the post-cold war propaganda wave of MTV, blue jeans and Michael Jordan, the U.S. hooked country after country on onerous agreements, which stipulated private companies could sue sovereign governments over internal legislations or other national developments, which might infringe on their investments and patent protection rackets. According to a study published in 2012 co-authored by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute, the number of investment arbitration cases ballooned from 38 to 450 between 1996 and 2011.

Over the last several years, many countries have either reneged on existing deals or have simply refused to renew their relationship with Western corporate entities. African nations extricated themselves from these agreements altogether, terminating existing ones and issuing a moratorium on signing new ones. Meanwhile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela withdrew from the World Bank’s body, that administers trade disputes, the ICSID. Even Australia, a fellow Western nation, decided it would no longer include investor-state dispute provisions in its trade agreements.

The legal fees and the punitive judgments arising from the lawsuits pursued by corporations against sovereign countries can threaten the vital social services of many developing countries. Cases like Plama Consortium vs Bulgaria and Fraport vs The Philippines highlight the risk these legal fights pose to the sued nations’ populations. In the first lawsuit, although Bulgaria was awarded US$7m in legal fees, it remained on the hook for US$6.25m – which could have covered the salaries of over 1,700 nurses during a healthcare crisis, which was affecting the country at the time. The Philippines, was forced to spend US$58m to defend against two cases involving one plaintiff.

UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) found that legal and arbitration costs average US$8m. Adding insult to injury, “tribunals most frequently [require] parties to share tribunal and administrative costs equally and absorb their own legal fees”, which means that sovereign nations lose even when they win.

Coliseum Politics

This secret tug of war between profit-driven behemoths and foreign national interests, which has been unfolding over the last few years never makes it to the nightly news in America. As usual, people are only fed narratives which will serve to sway public opinion, that will justify the necessary measures – whether the soft stick of economic sanctions or the outright use of Apaches and Cruise missiles.

The story lines are always simple and geared towards the common denominator. Even if Americans were so frivolous as to get behind the bombing of Brazil for better prices on tin for General Electric, it’s probably easier to make up a narrative of evil doers and bad hombres.

Lurking behind the “free trade” infrastructure is the other arm of the hegemonic beast, expressed alternatively as the drug war in Latin America or Western-funded terrorism in oil-rich Middle East. These are points of entry for the muscle when Western diplomats and arbitration lawyers fail to get their point across.

Donald Trump’s job is to signal to the world, on behalf of Western corporate interests, that the trade regime is not going as they wish and that all bets are off until the world gets back in line. In the meantime, the military-industrial complex is sharpening its knives and waiting for the go-ahead. The trade-dealer in Chief already has his marching orders.

BRT

Juicy BRT Bait

Last Thursday, the TPO board members voted to forgo extending the beleaguered Metrorail to South Dade, and instead approve plans to build a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) along the busway, a 20-plus mile stretch of pavement that currently runs several bus routes from the Dadeland South terminal to different points in the southernmost parts of the County.

The question of Metrorail extension has been dangled over the heads of Dade County’s transit-challenged population for decades now, like a chunk of raw meat over a starving circus cat. This last instance of kabuki theater comes on the heels of massive and continuous cuts to bus routes all over the city and the roll out of the new, privately owned “Miami Trolleys”, and the by-now infamous campaign promises of Carlos Gimenez, who led the charge for BRT – beginning just months after hoodwinking the electorate with glossy re-election posters proclaiming “More Rail”.

However, if we look more closely, we can see that neither Gimenez nor any of the “Rail, but” crowd who have been promoting the ‘idea’ of rail while leaving themselves enough space to backtrack at a moment’s notice were never really planning on giving residents of Miami-Dade another mile of rail. The airport extension only got built because former Mayor Alex Penelas left the project fully funded before leaving office and – most importantly – it would ostensibly serve the interests of the tourist industry; a concept, which has so far proven wrong. But, the fate of Metrorail expansion to South Dade had been decided years ago when they ripped up the existing train tracks, which ran all along what is now the Busway.

Fast-Track to Nowhere

The  special session three days ago, once again leaned on the people’s well-known desire to see Metrorail extended. In yet another sham hearing with a few pro-rail voices peppered throughout, the final pro-BRT majority had been determined long before. Among the most disappointing pro-BRT votes was that of newly elected County Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who herself ran what is possibly the most pro-transit campaign of any aspiring Commish in the history of the County. The few minutes allotted to each Commissioner during the session saw Higgins offer a justification of her upcoming vote, citing her “luxurious” experience with BRT in Mexico City – a massive metropolis with a public transit system that surpasses that of New York’s and many other world class systems.

Commission Chairman, Esteban Bovo Jr.’s hypocrisy was in full display from the beginning. When fellow TPO board member and pro-rail, Coral Gables Commissioner, Vince Lago was defending his motion to re-open the “reasonable opportunity to be heard” in favor of the community, Bovo interrupted Lago in typical fashion and warned his colleague over “grandstanding”. Bovo’s admonishment was completely uncalled for and drew a quizzical look from Lago, whose motion was nevertheless adopted by Bovo, but only allowed 2 minutes for public comment, lest the individual had spoken at the first session, in which case they got only 1 minute to speak. Bovo, himself, would conclude the day’s proceedings with a grandstanding, 8-minute speech about being for rail despite voting against it seconds later.

The entrenched,  American Dream ideology of several board members was also expressed during the short meeting, with Commissioners Joe Martinez and Javier Souto doubling down on last century’s car-equals-freedom paradigm. Martinez even went as far as to disparage public transit users entirely, implying they’re not worth spending any real money on. Souto, who – incredibly – was just reinstalled for yet another term in office, ran down his decades on the dole as if it was some kind of virtue and proclaimed to know more than anyone else. His pitch as elder statesman should convince us that we don’t need rail, apparently.

Only TPO Executive Director, Aileen Bouclé and Commissioner Moss offered some kind of practical opposition to the pro-BRT item on the table, calling into question the 35,000-rider threshold proposed in the BRT plan to “convert” the system to rail once the aforementioned rider density is reached. Citing Commissioner Moss’ numbers regarding rider densities in other cities around the country, far lower than 35,000, Bouclé suggested an amendment be considered to change the South Dade BRT plan’s language from an arbitrary rider-threshold number to a contingency designed around a national average of rail rider density. After some lip service from Bovo and others, Bouclé’s logical request was quickly swept under the rug and ignored.

BRT
FILE PHOTO – MIAMI, FL – July 18: Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez, looks on as the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall gets underway in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Finally, Miami’s new Mayor, Francis X. Suarez, stated his opposition over the fact that the full BRT project study had only been submitted Monday afternoon, and nobody – including him – had read more than a few snippets, much less the entire 1,200-page document. No matter, according to the TPO board majority. The vote was fast-tracked to take place by 1pm, thanks in part, to the deliciously ironic pleas of TPO board-member Carlos Hernandez, who begged the board to move quickly on the item because of his long and arduous 4-hour commute to-and-from the County seat.

Just minutes after one o’clock, the Metrorail was struck down again and BRT was passed as the preferred option for South Dade, despite the overwhelming and repeated support for rail by both the residents of South Dade, and the rest of the county. Meanwhile, Gimenez will move forward with his plan for an 836 extension along the edge of the Everglades, costing about as much as the rail extension would have, and multiplying the threat to our already stressed eco-system, to boot.

The Old Switcharoo

Before lunch had even arrived, Bovo posted a victory tweet announcing the TPO’s passing of South Dade’s BRT project. The wording of his post should raise red flags, as he immediately starts changing the terminology, referring to it as “enhanced premium transportation alternatives”. We should be wary about what actually comes of this BRT project we still know little about, except for a couple of expensive animated renderings they were already playing on MDT’s digital signage screens BEFORE the vote.

In addition to Bovo’s slick tweet, the County Mayor, himself belied the entire premise of converting BRT to rail in the future right after the meeting, when Herald beat reporter, Doug Hanks asked him if Metrorail would ever be expanded in Miami-Dade:

It’s unlikely we’ve seen the end of “Metrorail vs (bacon)” scam. We may have even been privy to the set up for the next farcical battle in Miami politics involving this evergreen issue, with Mayor Suarez’ inconsequential no-vote on Thursday. Carlos Gimenez has recently stated his desire to remain in public office and challenge Suarez for city Mayor in 2022. Transit will still be a major – and probably bigger – problem in Miami by then, so if Gimenez and Suarez do square off in six years, you can be sure they’ll try to use Metrorail as a political tactic again. We can’t allow that.

The TPO’s decision over BRT vs Rail underscores the County’s continued failure to properly address, manage or otherwise offer functional public transit solutions to the people of Miami-Dade. Transit director, Alice Bravo has shown herself to be unequal to the task. Now, she will oversee the implementation of BRT for South Dade, but no one who has used Miami-Dade Transit lately can seriously expect any kind of practical improvement.

As a long-time user of MDT, I can’t be optimistic. As many others, I know the reality on the ground. The county is so far behind where it should be on transit, that it will take a complete 180-degree shift in priorities and a basic level of honesty from our political class, that – like my bus and trust in County government – is simply not there now.

American Dream

In Miami, one of the most popular phrases used by our political class is the ever present “American Dream”; the go-to euphemism for social mobility and odd rebuttal to the residents’ continued demands for better public transit.

A Better Life?

Cars, according to County Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo, are part of the so-called American Dream. For the people who move to Miami from all over the world, toll-roads, expressways and bumper-to-bumper traffic on Bird Road is the fulfillment of a yearning they carry over from their respective Latin American ‘shit holes’. Buses and trains? That’s just a bad dream.

While Bovo pays lip service to the transit-challenged population, engaging in visible marketing bus adventures, the pervasive mentality among his ilk – who otherwise never step foot in a bus – is decidedly anti-public transit.

Just a few days ago, Bovo put out this telling tweet:

Perhaps the commissioner is unaware that most people in Miami have children, too, and taking “meetings all over town” is about as feasible on a Miami-Dade bus as getting to a 9-to-5 on time. Perhaps the bus “doesn’t work” for him because it doesn’t work for anybody.

El Sueño Cubano

With few exceptions, wherever you look on the County Seat dais, instead of representatives we find agents of developer interests masquerading as elected officials, who carry a chip on their shoulder about a boogey man in another country altogether. It’s almost as if these guys have been making policy in Miami for the last 30 years just to ‘stick it’ to Castro, and show him how capitalist capitalism can be. To them, public transit is an expression of socialism, it seems. The car, on the other hand, embodies the ‘free market’ ethos they ostensibly champion, while rigging the game for their developer friends in back room deals.

American Dream
CORAL GABLES, FL – May 10: Man in a wheelchair waves a large American flag on the corner of Ponce de Leon and Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida on May 10, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The Mayor, who staked his entire re-election campaign on public transit, has invoked the so-called American Dream to excuse one of the most unbelievable about faces in recent memory, comparable only to George Bush’s “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Giménez even had the audacity, after circulating campaign materials with the words “More Rail Lines” directly above his pepper shade comb over, to dismiss rail as “19th century technology”, shortly before taking a publicly-funded trip to China with a 15-people entourage. The two-week sojourn was billed as a fact-finding mission for innovative transit solutions; a laughable premise, which never seemed to produce any kind of official – or unofficial- report of their observations. The only notable fact to come out of the Asian vacation was the Mayor’s absolute silence about the tragedy of the collapsed FIU pedestrian bridge. Despite having direct family connections to the company, which designed the ill-fated structure, not a single word came from Beijing or wherever in the Middle Kingdom Carlos Giménez happened to be at the time.

It’s also not a trivial matter that the Mayor traveled to a communist country to conduct business, and everyone who lives in Miami should get the joke. As a member of the world’s leading anti-communist exile community, Carlos Giménez and the rest of the Cuban-born gang who presides over the vast majority of local government seats have made a living backing a five-decade old economic embargo on ‘la patria’, and condemning everything left of your right hand’s pinky finger.

Cars Killed the Dream

The irony is that the automobile itself is to blame for the demise of the so-called American dream.

For close to a century, the American working class managed to gain benefits and increase wages, while reducing the number of hours they had to put in each day. This, in turn, resulted in the creation of the biggest middle class in modern history. The automobile was a big part of that process, spurring growth and entrepreneurship.

The federal highway system and urban roadway development gave rise to the car-based, American lifestyle characterized by suburban sprawl, malls and the big box store. It was an ode to prosperity as each generation bequeathed a higher standard of living to the next. This was the American Dream, and for a few decades it actually worked.

American Dream
MIAMI, FL – February 25: Metromover travels south in front of the newly built shopping mall, Brickell City Center in Miami, Florida on February 25, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

As Dr. Richard Wolff from the New School so clearly lays out in this lecture from 2009, the 1970’s was the beginning of the end. Since then, corporate profits have consistently soared while wages have stagnated, remaining at virtually the same level. The rise of productivity coupled with flat lining wages allowed corporations to acquire massive wealth, while the workforce they employed had no choice but to turn to credit cards to bridge the gap between income and their desire to continue to living the American Dream.

General Motors, was among the first companies to take advantage of the American working class’ new plight, and decided to go into the mortgage lending business, expanding the scope of their original car loan business, GMAC. The General Motors Acceptance Corporation kick-started what would become the credit card/debt boom in the United States. The automobile, in particular, would be used as the asset, which underpinned the burgeoning credit-based economy. Linchpin of the small loan industry, cars have been used to both issue loans and secure credit lines using the vehicle as collateral.

Television is riddled with car commercials, that flash financing and leasing terms on the screen. Every movie and TV series, almost without exception, promotes the idea of car ownership as a status symbol, rite of passage and the key to all your dreams come true, especially as it relates to sexual prowess. Anyone who knows the history of the diamond trade and how DeBeers manipulated public perception through movies and stealthy advertising techniques to literally create a market out of thin air, knows this is not an accident.

The unpolished truth is that cars are little more than debt traps. Gateway credit drugs designed to hook people on a lifetime of interest payments and modern-day indentured servitude. The literal American nightmare.

Recalculating

The children and grandchildren of the ‘exilio’ have heard the stories of dispossession and betrayal. If “El Sueño Americano” makes a cameo, it carries with it a certain melancholy, double entendre that reveals the real dream of their redemptive return to the island. This place called Miami is really just a way-station. It was never part of the plan. Smart or otherwise.

If the past keeps informing our actions in the present, then we are simply sowing the seeds for history to repeat itself. At some point, you have to let go. Miami is ready to move on. Francis X. Suárez is the first Miami-born Mayor the city has ever had. His father, County Commissioner Xavier Suárez, is one of the few voices in the County who seems resolutely against building more toll roads and regularly advocates for better transit solutions, though he, too, has been known to indulge in the occasional fawning over personal internal combustion engines.

American Dream
MIAMI BEACH, FL – July 29: Girl bikes down Washington Avenue as a Miami-Dade Transit bus speeds by next to her in Miami Beach, Florida on July 29, 2017 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

The Columbus High alum, Francis Suárez, has hitched his wagon to Beckham’s soccer stadium as the first major project of his era. The wisdom of this move is yet to be seen, but the city’s very recent history with sports stadiums does not augur a good outcome. A serious lack of transparency in the process and the young leader’s full-on support of the massive development is concerning, to say the least. Hopefully, as the first native mayor, he will identify as a resident of this city first and foremost, understanding that Miami is not Havana 2.0 anymore.

Miami needs leadership that sees the city as more than a tourist trap or a preferred destination for asset flight of Latin American grifters. It’s time for the people of this community to stand up and demand a public transit system on par with the enormous potential of this beautiful place. The cost of neglecting transit for decades is already manifesting, and will ultimately inflict a terrible toll on the future of Miami if nothing is done to stop the irresponsible, short-sighted and tone-deaf approaches we have endured for years.

Our commissioners and representatives keep dreaming about America. But, this is our bed and we’re the ones laying in it. It’s time to wake up.

Miami Soccer Stadium
I don’t want any interruptions from anyone in the public… We’ve done this day in and day out for a very long time in the City of Miami… We do not need assistance with running this meeting.Keon Hardemon (District 5) - Commissioner & Chairman
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Joe Carollo, Commissioner for District 3, banters with City Commission Chairman, Keon Hardemon, just before the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal begins at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Swing vote-holder, Commissioner Ken Russell, answers some of the press’ questions prior to the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are circumventing our own statutes, our own laws… Let the real owners of the land decide… We are going against our own charter. That’s why people don’t trust us.Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team huddle together during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: District 4 Commissioner, Manolo Reyes, states his opposition to the process underlying the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

For the purposes of the questions that were posed, the way the commission is proceeding at this time is perfectly legal. I wanted to remind the commission that in 2014 there was a resolution passed that we wanted MLS soccer, David Beckham to be the group that led this charge… It’s legal.Victoria Mendez - City Attorney
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Mayor of Miami, Francis X. Suarez, follows the proceedings during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Richard Perez, Holland & Knight partner, representing the Beckham interests stands smiling at the podium during the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

This impromptu proposed ballot language is deceiving and is calculated to elicit a particular response. But, I also think it’s out of order… I have not seen this. We were not contacted about this. We were not asked questions by Commissioner Reyes’ office.Francis X. Suarez - Mayor
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A First-T supporter looks on skeptically during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal, while a stadium supporter sits anxiously behind him at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, disputes a proposed language change resolution before the City Commission at the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are extremely confident that the remediation costs on this particular site, including the park and including the lease premises will be substantially less than $35 million. Richard Perez - Holland & Knight partner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez and City Manager, Emilio T. Gonzalez, confer privately just prior to the start of the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Stadium proposal partner, Jorge Mas Jr., stares forward defiantly during the special hearing at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We would adopt reaching a living wage on a scalable basis, starting at $11 dollars over four years to get to the $15 dollars.Jorge Mas
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A member of the Mas-Beckham entourage follows the proceedings attentively during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team consult with each other during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

I know that you say that it is legal. But, is it ethical?Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Jorge Mas Jr., Beckham’s partner in the stadium venture, assumes a pleading posture during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A stadium deal supporter sits through the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

MIAMI, FL – Grant Stern’s Only in Miami radio show (880 The Biz Radio) held a Transit Town Hall yesterday evening in Wynwood’s popular venue, Shots.

Florida Rep. Kionne McGhee (D) spoke eloquently about the pressing issues facing residents of Miami on transit as part of a panel, which also included Transit Alliance co-founder, Marta Viciedo, Miami-Dade Commission candidate for District 6, Maryin Vargas, and Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo chiming in remotely over the phone.

McGhee has emerged as a vocal opponent of County Mayor Gimenez’ BRT proposal for South Dade, that was recently unveiled and looks to replace the original plans for a rail extension. The Representative for District 117 has demonstrated an ability to cut through the political noise, and express the overwhelming support for rail among the people of Miami.

U.S.

HOMESTEAD, FL – The detention and separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border has sparked a swell of protests and marches across the country, as the mainstream media made this not-so-new problem headline news last week. The immediate outpouring of support for migrants and the, by now, predictable social media sniper fire from both sides of the proverbial aisle is part of a cycle, that began with the inauguration ceremony of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Since then, the polarization of American society has been razor sharp, and its subsequent manipulation by complicit media organizations, a case-study of Goebellian propaganda tactics. Nevertheless, at the center of it all, is the American people’s cognitive dissonance regarding what their country actually does around the world. Hollywood and network television have conditioned generations to believe in the righteous, virtuous American profile. On the surface, between L.A. and New York city, this narrative is plausible enough. But, once the metaphorical stars and stripes engages with resource-rich nations outside its borders, a fog of ignorance descends upon Americans, who by-and-large have little understanding of how their government’s foreign policies affects the populations of the rest of the world.

Demonstration Day

On Saturday, June 23, over a thousand people gathered under the intense heat of one of the farthest reaches of Miami-Dade County – a stones-throw from the most biologically vibrant part of the Everglades ecosystem – to march a few hundred yards towards a detention center, where reportedly dozens of youngsters, intercepted with their families at the border, are being housed away from their parents.

Earlier that day, two politicians were given a tour of the facilities. Scandal-plagued Wasserman-Schultz, who’s running for Congress and Senate candidate Bill Nelson, who had been turned away the day before. Nelson’s opponent, and current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has not weighed in on the matter. A third politician, Nicolas Kimaz, was there to meet the marchers, busy propping up his foam board campaign signs, which kept toppling over from the winds of encroaching rain clouds. Kimaz, is seeking to fill the seat for Florida’s 22nd district, which includes the site of the recent school massacre, Parkland, FL. After informing me, unsolicited, about his qualifications to speak about the issue at hand, due to his own experience as a child soldier in Lebanon, he told me – with no sense of irony – that he was in Homestead that day to condemn the political exploitation of the children detained in the compound behind us.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A tall woman in dreadlocks carries a sign in support of the children over the other marchers at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Right in front of the building in question, three senior citizens, had arrived early to set up their pro-Trump, pro-detention counter-protest ‘kiosk’. Recycling a few hand-made signs seen before at other Trump-related events in Miami, these die-hard Trump groupies sat comfortably on their portable lawn chairs, equipped with water to keep hydrated and umbrellas to shield them from the scorching sun. As they awaited the marchers, the men indulged in a few wise-cracks about the protestors who were still nowhere to be seen. They seemed to feel safe, surrounded by a half dozen police cruisers and, at least, a dozen Miami-Dade police officers – themselves somewhat more apprehensive as they decided the best way to cordon off the area. As storm clouds got closer and darker, one of the old men remarked that “God” was going to punish the marchers with what, at this point, looked like an inevitable deluge. A comment only possible from someone who’s never had to cross a desert with a child in tow.

The Flood of Humanity

The silhouette of cardboard signs and flags began to be distinguishable in the distance at around 5:30 in the afternoon. A wave of protestors started to make their way down 288th street; the heat mercifully subsiding as incoming clouds produced a canopy over the area. Monitored and followed by policemen on foot and motorcycle, the demonstrators marched past two enormous petroleum silos belonging to the Homestead Air Force base, located just north of the detention center.

U.S.
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Soaked participants of the March to Keep Families Together take shelter from the rain underneath a gas station canopy in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Media presence was limited to a few local TV stations, but otherwise not significant. The crowd’s chants started to filter in, as the large multitude approached. Within minutes, the cul-de-sac created by police tape and parked cruisers was crammed with hundreds of protestors, with hundreds more following behind. Upon seeing the three Trump-supporters happily perched in front of the center, one of the marchers smartly suggested to a cop that they might want to remove them, given the numerical disparity between them and the imminent mob. The police officer agreed, in principle, but soon there would be no time to maneuver.

Just as the first flank of the demonstrators flooded the detention center’s entrance, many bringing stuffed animals and toys to leave at the gates, the skies opened up to a torrential downpour, which drenched everything within a 5-mile radius. Caught as they were between the anti-child detention horde and the actual child-detention complex, it would be a miracle if the three Trump supporters were able to save their signs from mother nature’s wet wrath. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine their fate, as I walked through the rainstorm hoping for a miracle of my own – that my expensive camera and lenses wouldn’t get soaked.

Keep Families Together
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A father carries a sign in support of migrant families with his young daughter on his back during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

Ideals vs Reality

Thankfully, I reached the small roof cover of the gas station half a mile away with perfectly functioning photographic equipment. I took some last shots of the marchers, some of whom also took cover alongside me, while others continued on undeterred by the rain and thunder. These were essentially good people who felt the need to express their opposition to something they believe is wrong. The three Trump supporters, are good people, as well. They, too, felt the need to defend something they believe is right. Neither (for the most part), understand the reality, that has brought them here on this day to stand by their respective principles.

The foreign policy of the United States towards Latin America is a very complicated, but consistent regime of oppression and economic subjugation framed within the parameters of the Monroe doctrine, which basically claims everything south of the Rio Grande as the exclusive purview of American interests. Strategy and implementation have varied throughout the decades, but the ultimate goals of resource extraction, debt burdens or perpetual trade advantages have been achieved through the subversion of the political processes in Latin America, including direct interference in presidential elections and actively backing the region’s most repressive dictatorships, while assisting in the overthrow of many others.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: A young, Hispanic girl chants along her mother at the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

America’s policy in Latin America over the last forty years has been dominated by the war on drugs, which has decimated subsistence economies and is largely responsible for the constant flow of migrants northward, in search of deliverance from the clutches of increasingly powerful drug cartels and the corrupt governments, which run their countries. The fundamental role, that the United States plays in this state of affairs is never examined by mainstream news sources, and rarely by anyone else.

In my documentary series “Borderline – The Unhinged Truth About the Drug War”, I break down how this so-called failed policy is really a vital tool of American hegemony. Part one details an event, which occurred in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila just a few years ago, and which shows the horrific reality that people only a few miles away from the border are facing.

The true scope and consequences of the U.S.’ foreign policy in Latin America are exposed as the series unfolds. I’m sure that at its conclusion, viewers will see the immigration crisis in America through a new, and more informed lens. I’ve included a special access link to part one at the end of this article, and I invite everyone to watch and share.

HOMESTEAD, FL – June 23: Protesters approach the child detention center along 288th street during the March to Keep Families Together in Homestead, Florida on June 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.


The Trump Sink Hole

Like Saturday’s washout, any energy we waste shaking our fists against Donald Trump or screaming our support for him, is energy that will never be used to address the real causes behind the problems that lie at our doorstep. Instead, we keep falling into the big, orange sink hole, because we lack the necessary information.

The children being separated from their families and detained in so-called “tender-age” camps are a symptom of a much bigger and systemic problem. Eight U.S. administrations have waged the disastrous war on drugs, year after year, decade after decade. Trump will continue to wage it. Hint: it’s not really about drugs.

BORDERLINE – PART ONE | Access Password: “borderlinepremiere”

Fox

MIAMI BEACH, FL – Trump nemesis, and former Mexican President, Vicente Fox Quesada delivered the inaugural keynote address in front of a few thousand guests, exhibitors, and invitees at the fifth iteration of eMerge Americas, one of the newest technology conferences in the country, focusing on Latin American and local tech startups.

Known for his straightforward style, and colorful language, Fox got right to the point, beginning with a soliloquy on what he called the “underground” threat to globalization. Citing Brexit and the separatist movement in Catalonia, he then singled out Donald Trump as the new driving force behind the sinister plot to break up the “progress” and “enlightenment” so far achieved by the breaking down of national barriers to trade and people.

Fox warned, with the tone of a man with inside knowledge, that President Trump was not revealing his true intentions to the American people.

Trump “Has not yet shown what is below the surface; has not clearly stated to the American people where he is taking this nation. He’s got a plan,” Fox said, “he knows where he’s going. But, I don’t think U.S. public opinion knows what the path is.”

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico, delivers keynote speech at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

He continued with a look into the future, in which he forecasted human lifespans of 130 years, and a civilization enjoying the fruits of robot labor. The six-foot-four, one-time Coca-Cola executive, declared that NAFTA had achieved its goal of bridging the economic gap between north and south, and predicted that all of North America would reach one-to-one economic parity in the coming years.

After his relatively brief address, Fox sat down for a discussion with John Harwood, Chief Washington D.C. Correspondent for CNBC, who pressed him on his remarks about Trump.

“Now, if I understood you correctly,” Posed Harwood, “you said you thought that the president, our president has only revealed part of what his agenda is. But, there’s much more coming, that we have not seen. What do you mean by that?”

Fox, however, didn’t provide any hard evidence for his claim, and instead went on to talk generally about the dangers of populist governments, like those which litter the history of Latin America.

The conversation then veered off into the speaking engagements he’s taken on since his exit from public office, candidly telling his audience, that he only does it to generate revenue for his three foundations. Harwood, at one point, asked him how his anti-Trump t-shirt sales were going, to which the former president responded, that he had yet to see the numbers.

Fox
MIAMI BEACH, FL – April 23: Vicente Fox, and John Harwood hold a discussion at the eMerge Americas tech conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on April 23, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

His mention of a Cannabis conference he will be hosting at Centro Fox in Mexico, opened the door to expounding on his views concerning drugs and legalization, as he is in favor of complete legalization. After Harwood asked sarcastically whether he didn’t believe Mexico was at fault for the drug problem in the United States, Fox stated categorically that the “headquarters” of the big drug cartels are not in Mexico, but here in the United States.

“Those who distribute here. Those who raise the money here. Those who benefit from the crime and drugs are the U.S. cartels.” Said Fox.

Eventually, the topic would inevitably turn back to Trump and his protectionist policies, pointing out the folly in shutting out 80% of global GDP, or the rest of the world. “What’s going to happen with GM, with Chrysler, with Ford?” Asked Fox, “They make the profits out there.”

Harwood ended the discussion with a question he’d been trying to get an answer to from the beginning; whether Fox thought there would be a new NAFTA deal. Fox came back with an emphatic yes, but left a 5% chance for a negative outcome.

“This is another false promise…” Fox said, referring to Trump’s threat of scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s newly expanded trade deal with the EU, agreed to in principle only days ago, might be the reason for his optimism.

But with presidential elections looming south of the border, and a populist candidate from the left leading in all polls, the only certainty is that you won’t live to 130.

Watch the inspiring words spoken by current and former mayors from all across Dade County, as well as MSD and Miami Beach Senior high alumni, who gathered together with thousands of supporters for March for Our Lives on March 24th, 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida.

March

Miami Beach, FL – Days after the tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School, a nationwide march was planned by the Never Again movement, which emerged from the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida this past Valentine’s day. Today, a march was held in solidarity with several others occurring simultaneously around the country.

Thousands gathered early this morning at Miami Beach High, where organizers were ready with t-shirts and posters they distributed among the attendees; many of whom also brought their own signage. A stage with a “March for Our Lives” branded pulpit was set up in the south east corner of the campus, where several speakers would rally the crowd before the march.

A carousel of Miami-Dade notables would take the makeshift platform around 9:45 am. Among them was newly-elected City of Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez, and Miami’s prodigal superintendent, Alberto M. Carvalho, who delivered his first of two speeches on the day. “Today is the day” was Carvalho’s chosen refrain, displaying the knack of a natural politician.

Oliver Gilbert III, the Mayor of Miami Gardens, was also among the line-up of speakers, exhorting the people to look past race and ethnicity to come together for the cause of gun control. He asked if anyone really needed an AR-15 or should have the right to buy more than twenty automatic weapons in one year. The crowd responded to each of his rhetorical questions with a resounding “No!”. Philip Levine, former Miami Beach Mayor, and current candidate for Governor of the State shared a few words, as well.

Past and present alumni from Stoneman Douglas were also there. The most emotional speech was given by Michaela Manning, a Stoneman Douglas junior, who had to fight back tears as she lamented her friend and classmate’s passing during the tragedy at her school, knowing that she would never again sit beside her. It was another Stoneman Douglas alumni, Alex Margetts, who had the honors of kicking off the march itself. He is now a senior at the University of Miami.

A few minutes past 10 am, the mass of people began moving towards Dade Boulevard, which had been blocked off by police. They marched only a short distance to the Bass Museum a few blocks away on Collins Avenue, where another, more professional stage was set up for the closing rally.

Current Miami Beach Mayor, Dan Gelber’s 17-year old daughter, Hannah Gelber, warned NRA-beholden legislators about her upcoming birthday in August, when she would turn 18, and become eligible to vote. Hannah compared the number of teenagers in Florida with the far lesser number of NRA members in the state, illustrating how formidable a united teenage voting block would be. Her proud father took the stage after her, and reinforced his daughter’s message with the panache of a professional. Mayor Gelber roused the marchers with charged words and clenched fists before introducing, Superintendent Carvalho, who delivered speech number two of the day, and then left the stage for the ensuing musical performances, kicked off by one of the Marley clan, with a rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Get Up Stand Up”.

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