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Miami-Dade Cuban American Democratic Club
Cuban American Democrats at the National Convention

Our Goals : Miami 04-16-2014

In order to be politically effective we must first fully understand our local realities. We live in a county in which political and financial power have become one. We can see this by just looking at the list of donors for each candidate or tuning in to radio and TV talk shows in Miami, with the exception of a very few. Special interest groups within our county choose their candidates; they provide adequate amounts of funding and even recommend their campaign managers. It is no surprise then when we see that in many cases these same interest groups are the ones who, in reality, write our laws to Tallahassee. First, we must understand that the only weapon we have to put an end to this vicious cycle which undermines our democracy is our right to vote. In order for this to have any effect we must make sure that on Election Day voters exercise this right in large numbers. There are 200,000 Hispanics with the right to vote in Miami-Dade County who do not do so because they are not registered to vote. A portion of this group is made up of Cuban Americans who obtain their citizenship, yet are unaware of the power they have in their hands, or simply do not care. Our first goal should be to encourage this group to register and, more importantly, vote. In turn, we must present them with honest and capable candidates who will inspire confidence and enthusiasm in these potential voters. The Miami Dade Cuban American Democratic Club recognizes that registration is important, but not enough. It is evident that we must devote more attention to motivating democratic Cuban Americans to participate in all levels of the political process, beginning with their presence at the polls. There is a great need to convey the importance of exercising our right to vote, of being better informed about issues which impact our daily lives and those of our future generations, and ultimately go to the polls and vote. I will leave you with a few words from activist and writer Erica Payne in her bookThe Practical Progressive: How to Build a 21st Century Political Movement: "The government of the United States has millions of employees, offices around the world and a budget of $3 trillion dollars. It is the single most powerful entity in the world. It can ensure freedom, protect the weak, explore new worlds, create industries, transform economies, cure disease, spread prosperity, re-build war torn nations and even reach the moon. If we can change the leadership of that government, we can change the world. Just Do It."

Hector Caraballo
President, Miami-Dade Cuban-American Democrats Club

Miami 09-04-08
Published Thursday September 4th 2008 in the Miami Herald

I found myself in jail in Santa Clara, Cuba, autumn of 1964. The preferred topic of conversation of our interminable chats on the prison patio was the United States electoral campaign. We passionately debated the pros and cons of each candidate. The contenders then were Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater. More than once I expressed to my fellow prisoners the differences I noted between our two societies. In the United States the debates occurred in the press, people congregated at conventions and in the end they voted. In Cuba, by contrast, to agree with the opposition was a crime - A crime that you paid for with prison, exile or the execution wall. Many times at night, when insomnia made my thoughts run rampant, I imagined what it would be like to live in a democracy and to be able to participate in political parties, elections and conventions. Forty four years later, in Denver, Colorado, for the first time in my life, I participated in a political convention. I witnessed the arrival of the posters and songs of thousands of men and women, young and old, of all races. I saw the faces of hope and shared their slogans and joy. I participated in sessions and conferences on innumerable and varied topics. And finally I voted with pride as a delegate of the Democratic Party of Florida. After so many years I realized my dream as a young student and political prisoner.

Héctor Caraballo
President, Miami-Dade Cuban-American Democrats Club

Miami 09-04-08
Publicado el jueves 04 de septiembre del 2008 en el periódico El Nuevo Herald

Debatir, proclamar, elegir...
Me encontraba en la cárcel de Santa Clara, Cuba, en el otoño de 1964. El tema preferido en nuestras interminables charlas en el patio de la prisión era la campaña electoral norteamericana. Discutíamos con pasión a favor o en contra de cada candidato. Los contendientes eran entonces Lyndon B. Johnson y Barry Goldwater.
Más de una vez les expresé a mis compañeros la diferencia entre ambas sociedades. En Estados Unidos se debatía en la prensa, se reunían en convenciones y, al final, se elegía.
En Cuba por el contrario conformar la oposición era un crimen. Un crimen que se pagaba con la prisión, el exilio o el paredón de fusilamiento.
Muchas veces en la noche, cuando la falta de sueño hacía correr mis pensamientos, me imaginaba cómo sería el vivir en una democracia y poder participar en partidos políticos, elecciones y convenciones.
Cuarenta y cuatro años después, en Denver, Colorado, participé en la primera convencion de mi vida. He visto llegar con sus pancartas y canciones a miles de hombres y mujeres, viejos y jóvenes, de todas las razas. He visto la ilusión y la esperanza en sus rostros, he compartido sus slogans y alegría. He participado en talleres y conferencias de imnumerables y variados temas. Y al final he votado con orgullo como delegado del Partido Demócrata de La Florida. Después de tantos años he hecho realidad mi sueño de joven estudiante encarcelado.
Pero allá, bien lejos, donde comenzó mi jornada, en Cuba, otros hombres en sus celdas sueñan todavía.

Héctor Caraballo