Should Miami default to Tampa for the first Cuban consulate?

Leaders in Miami, long considered the hub of Cuban-American activity and influence in the United States, seem to be turning their backs on our city as it steps into the next stage in relations between the geographical neighbors.

Some policiticians and other exile community leaders hailing from Cuba or first generation born Cuban Americans are saying, “we don’t like Castro so we are going to give our collective community leadership to Tampa, or possibly even New Orleans,” just because we hate Castro?

When I first heard President Barack Obama say that he was going to defrost relations with Cuba, I thought, “wow, here we go! No longer just a Miami Cuba thing. Now we will be the center, the point where anyone in the United States who wants to do business with Cuba, will be coming. They will stay in our hotels; they will rent office space in Coral Gables or Doral; they will eat at our fine restaurants; they will buy homes and condos. They will, in fact, enrich our community.

Isn’t this what our governor is always preaching: “Bring them to Florida – create employment?”

I say bring them to Miami. We must accept the challenge, blow Castro aside and move into the future. Cubans, Cuban-Americans, eventually will turn the island’s sputtering economy into an avalanche. Writers looking at Cuba will contain only one chapter on Castro in the history of the island.

Cubans and those interested in visiting Cuba — whether for business, tourism or visiting family and old friends still on the island — need access to consulate facilities.

In our right minds are we suggesting that they must leave the hub of Cuban life in the U.S. and drive or take a bus to Tampa?

I just can’t believe what I am reading in the paper, seeing on TV or just talking to my Cuban friends over café con leche and croquetas in the morning. I know Castro took away the ownership of homes and businesses. I know Castro is responsible for the imprisonment of those disagreeing with his communist ideals. I know the Castros are stealing money from the island that should have been invested in Cuba rather than lining their pockets in some Swiss bank account. I know Castro has held back the development of the island into the 21st Century.

But our disagreement is with Castro, not the Cuban people. Help the citizens of Cuba and those that now live in the U.S., and Castro will become part of the island’s history.

I can’t believe that our county mayor, Carlos Giménez, is so afraid of a Miami backlash that he is willing to abandon the idea of a ferry terminal at PortMiami to serve Cuba or actually for any other island that needs service. Lord, we had ferries running between South Florida and Cuba when I was a young man just out of college. And, today I am receiving Social Security. The mayor said “we don’t do business with a country (meaning Cuba) we only do business with individuals. Well, build the terminal and some individuals will start a ferry service. If we don’t have relations with other countries, Mr. Mayor, how did we ever create sister cities?

The mayor of the City of Miami is afraid that protestors might congregate outside a Cuban consulate and protest. Well, we’ve had protestors on the streets of Miami as far back as 1933 when someone firing a gun, attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt – and we survived. Don’t be a wimp, Mayor Regalado; let Miami grow. Votes aren’t everything.

I completely agree with Mike Fernandez, Cuban born founder of MBF Healthcare Partners in Miami.

He said, “If I was mayor of Miami, I would say I represent everyone in Miami and I represent the future of Miami and this is business. It’s way overdue.”

P.S. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Steve Bovo cited a Bendixen & Amandi poll taken in 2014 indicating Cuban Americans favored a Miami Consulate for Cuba: 50 percent, yes, to 39 percent, no. Its time has come mi amigos.

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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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