‘Miami is run by the Cuban mafia’

By Álvaro Fernández

It’s September in Miami. Days are in the 90s, but it’s the humidity that has one sweating after a shower. There’s also the case of a small group of overheated Cubans, led by an even smaller group of politicians, with their panties in a wad. They are incensed at words uttered the previous month by the city’s new chief of police. Chief Art Acevedo, a Cuban-American from California who took over the department in April, said during a meeting of police officers and other staffers that “Miami is run by the Cuban mafia.”

Acevedo has no idea how true his words ring. And the small group who reacted and protested about the mafia comparison?

Have you seen the movie The Godfather? There’s a scene, depicting a public senatorial committee investigating organized crime, where Michael Corleone complains that he has been wrongfully accused of being a mafioso and that he deserves a public apology. The upset Miami Cubans in our story, all taken as one, could have played the Al Pacino part of Michael in that movie.

Those same whiny Miami Cubans have conveniently forgotten that in the 1950s, right before Fidel Castro ousted Fulgencio Batista, Cuba was ruled by a corrupt partnership between the Batista government and the mob. Over the years many of those Cubans now living as U.S. citizens — like the Diaz-Balart brothers, for example, progenitors of that Batista regime — have managed to re-write history and created a mythical Havana where everything was perfect … until Fidel showed up.

There are also some members of the Brigade 2506 who failed in their invasion of Cuba and spent time jailed on the island. After their release and under the leadership of Jose Miguel Battle, a former Batista policeman, they would form what became known as The Corporation, a Cuban American criminal organization that had working relationships with the Italian Mafia and raked in proceeds from gambling, drug trafficking, and other illegal enterprises, according to court documents. Murder was also on their menu.

[For more information about Cuban American immersion into the criminal underworld, read two books written by best-selling organized-crime author T.J. English: Havana Nocturne and The Corporation.]

The Miami Mafia

Battle started The Corporation in Union City, New Jersey. But like most everything dealing with Cuba in the United States, he and other members of the crime group ended up in Miami. It was The Corporation’s money, together with CIA funds and money from CIA-trained Cubans involved in the drug business, that first helped finance incursions into Cuba in their attempt to topple the Castro government.

It was the genesis of the Miami mafia. From the start, political debate, or an outlook or expression deemed an inch to the left of established thinking might result in intimidation, loss of jobs, violence and even loss of life. In 1987, Louis Salome, editorial page editor of the now-defunct Miami News, wrote: In Miami “the freedom to engage in political debate without fear or intimidation is being held hostage by some right-wing Cubans.”

I looked up the word “mafia.” There was reference to Sicilians and Italian Americans, what most know and have seen in movies. But there was also this definition: “Any of various similar criminal organizations, especially when dominated by members of the same nationality.”

There IS a Miami Cuban mafia: They’ve ruled over the city since Ronald Reagan gave them the key(s) in the 1980s. By the 90s they had become so powerful, in fact, that the city’s most influential institution at the time, The Miami Herald, had to bow to their wishes. Here’s what The Washington Post had to say in 1992: “The watchdogs at the Inter American Press Association usually concern themselves with the plight of journalists blown up in places like Bogota.

“So it was unprecedented that the group sent a team here to investigate the war of words raging between the Anglo publisher of the Miami Herald and a prominent Cuban-American businessman, who has plastered the sides of 60 city buses with yellow signs reading: ‘Yo No Creo en el Herald.’ ‘I don’t believe the Miami Herald.’

“Excrement has been smeared on newspaper racks. Signs have been left accusing the paper of being an official voice of the Communist Party. There even have been death threats against the Herald’s publisher — though they’ve been defended as merely ‘prank calls.’”

The Herald does not wield the influence it once did. As for the Cuban mafia in Miami, they’re more sophisticated, but just as deadly. And their tentacles now reach even police departments in the city. The politicians that howled and complained that they found Chief Acevedo’s comments offensive? Many of Miami’s Cuban politicians have used the Cuba issue to further their political careers by lulling their voters into believing that Fidel still haunts them in South Florida. There are cases of indicted politicians winning reelections by playing the Cuba card. And many others who have committed crimes, and like illusionists, wave the Cuban communist card, putting voters in a lather that allows them to forget the fact that they’re voting for a crook!

Miami politicians now want to terminate a police chief who made an insensitive statement. First, some of these people never wanted Acevedo in the first place. The mention of a “Cuban mafia” gave them the opening to possibly fire him. Secondly, here come the illusionists, again. Miami has much bigger problems than a police chief making a stupid comment. But the chief gave them an opening to criticize him, and possibly call for his ouster, which if they succeed in doing will cost city taxpayers a pretty penny to compensate the fired police chief.

If these shameless political “leaders” — some of them part of that Cuban mafia — were honest with their voters, they would have to admit that Miami is run by a Cuban mafia that has affected the lives of many over the years. A group that has stalled Miami’s progress, to the benefit of only a few.

Source: Progresso Weekly