Joe Biden blasts Donald Trump’s Cuba policy in Miami visit

MIAMI – On his first visit to Miami in more than a year, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump’s tough policies in America on Monday, saying his opponent’s tough talk and severe sanctions only entrenched Cuba’s communist government .

“The administration approach doesn’t work. Cuba is no closer to democracy than it was four years ago, “said the former vice president from a largely empty gym in José Martí Park in Little Havana, the historic heart of the Cuban community in exile in Miami. “There are more political prisoners. The secret police are as brutal as ever. And Russia is again present in Cuba and Havana. “

Biden also criticized Trump for failing to overthrow the Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro and for refusing to exempt undocumented exiles under US temporary protection from deportation to a country with crippling hyperinflation.

“Maduro I met is quite simply a dictator,” said Biden. “And he caused incredible suffering among the Venezuelan people in order to keep power under control.”

Biden’s speech – in counter-blow to Trump’s relentless socialist-themed attacks on Democrats – came as he tried to reconnect with Miami’s Hispanic and Haitian-American voters, the key blocks in the battle for victory on the Florida battlefield. Prior to his visit to Little Havana, Biden made a brief stop in Little Haiti, where he avoided speaking about foreign policy during a nine-minute speech, but again criticized the Trump administration’s efforts in federal court to lift Haitians’ temporary protection status.

“This is not the time to lift it,” Biden said of TPS from the courtyard of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. “This is not the time to end it.”

Biden’s return to Miami – which included an NBC City Hall at the Pérez Art Museum Miami – was his first visit since a layover in Little Havana in September last year, before the coronavirus pandemic forced him to hold the Florida presidential primaries on March 17 . His trip on Monday came at a crucial point in the election campaign, with around 5 million postal ballot papers in the hands of voters who have not yet submitted them. Monday was also the last day we had to register to vote in Florida.

Polls continue to find a close race in the state, with Biden and Trump battling for support in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populous metropolitan area. A poll published Monday by Bendixen & Amandi International found that Trump continues to beat his poor margins in the region from 2016 onwards, while Biden is improving his standing among Hispanic voters in an aggressive advertising campaign.

“There are signs that Joe Biden’s increased efforts to cultivate Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County could pay off,” Fernand Amandi, a Democratic pollster and political strategist, said in an interview.

In Little Havana on Monday, Biden’s campaign gathered small business owners, key workers and other South Florida Spanish residents to be part of the crowd at the neighborhood gym. Former Second Lady Jill Biden spoke first, saying that her husband would “make a nation whole” with love and “little acts of kindness”. She was introduced by Victoria Principe, a first-time Venezuelan voter from Weston, colloquially known as Westonzuela, because of her sizeable Venezuelan population.

Joe Biden spoke for about 30 minutes in front of two large canvases by local artist Laura Atria. He spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on Hispanic families on the front lines, but also highlighted contributions from Latin American immigrants in the United States

“It’s families like yours and Esthers who made this country what it is … and the hard work, the faith and the persistence,” said Biden. “The wealth and beauty of Miami is based on the connections of family, cultures and values ​​that you share with our friends in the Caribbean and Latin America.”

Biden’s ability to attract more supporters in left-wing Miami-Dade County could prove to be critical to his ability to attract Florida. In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County by 30 percentage points – equivalent to around 300,000 votes – and still lost Florida to Trump with around 112,000 votes. Biden is about 20 percentage points ahead of Trump in Miami-Dade County, according to the October 1-4 poll of 600 likely voters.

These numbers are due in part to Trump’s ongoing promotion of Miami’s 900,000 Hispanic voters as president, an effort that dates back to early 2017 when he rolled back much of Obama-Biden-Cuba policy. Late last month, before Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis pushed him out of the election campaign, the president held another Latinos for Trump roundtable, this time with Colombians, Puerto Ricans and Nicaraguans at Trump’s Doral Golf Resort.

On Monday, when a COVID-19 diagnosis left Trump in isolation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland until he returned to the White House that early evening, it was Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who attacked Biden’s politics. Nuñez, co-chair of the President’s Latinos for Trump coalition, tore up Biden’s plans to resume the Obama-Biden administration’s Cuba policy, resuming diplomatic ties and easing travel and business restrictions on the island.

“Biden has pledged to return to the failed policy of showering Cuba’s communist dictatorship with unilateral concessions, as he did after serving as vice president [President Barack] Obama, ”said Nuñez. “President Trump is with the people of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and on the side of democracy.”

But with Trump pausing in Washington for most of the day, Biden caught the attention of South Florida. At the Pérez Art Museum, Miami Biden criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, warning that the 210,000 deaths could double if the country fails to get the pandemic under control.

“If nothing changes, we will have another 200,000 dead in a year,” said Biden.

In the early afternoon in Little Haiti, Biden tried to reconcile with Haitian voters who felt neglected when Biden tried to woo Hispanic voters and after fellow campaigner Kamala Harris failed to meet Haitian-American leaders during a September round table Discussion with black leaders at Florida Memorial University.

Invited guests, deliberately kept low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, included Haitian-American elected officials in Miami-Dade County, as well as Rep. Dotie Joseph, Congressman Frederica Wilson, Dr. Larry Pierre and Dr. Jean-Philippe Austin and his wife Magalie. The Austins held a $ 35,800 per plate fundraiser for President Barack Obama on his second presidential bid in 2011, and Austin and Pierre also raised funds for the Biden campaign.

Concerned about the November 3rd turnout by Haitian-American voters, the Austins have organized a campaign independent group to promote voter engagement and reach in the Haitian-American community.

As Biden spoke in the courtyard of the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Haitian-American voters lined up on two blocks of town on Northeast Second Avenue and 59th Street, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Even without hearing him, some said they were ready to support his offer for the presidency.

“I’m delighted to see you,” said 60-year-old Franklyn Charleston amid the billowing Biden Harris posters and traditional Haitian horns playing carnival music known as Rara. “Since this government came to power, life here has just sunk. It was better with Obama and even better with [President Bill] Clinton. This president was causing trouble and we can’t just let the country run flat. “

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