Cuba engagement photos become issue in GOP 116 primary

Cuba engagement photos become issue in GOP 116 primary
  • Sumo

Campaign video attacks candidate for Havana trip

Travel to Cuba is often a campaign issue in Miami-Dade races whether they are congressional or state or local. But that it would become fodder in a Republican 305 primary is something new.

And that the perceived front runner in the special House 116 race is using it to attack a relative nobody in video is somewhat interesting. Is the underdog doing better than anyone thought?

Daniel Anthony Perez is running for the GOP nomination in the special election for the seat vacated by former State Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, who is running for Senate to replace Frank Artiles, who resigned after he was caught making sexist and racist remarks to and about his colleagues.

Suarez also traveled to Cuba earlier this year with his fiancée for a photo shoot to memorialize their engagement, as disclosed by the Miami Herald earlier this week. While he says it was a family trip to see his fiancée’s elderly uncle to take him food and medicine, two photogaphers also took the trip and he and his fiancée posed in several different outfits and several different locations for their engagement album. The photographers posted on their page, as the Herald reported, that the photoshoot took four days. 

That could certainly hurt Perez with high-performing Cuban-American elderly voters in a low-turnout July election. And that is why candidate Jose Mallea, who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio‘s campaign, is using the story that his people likely planted with the Miami Herald to attack Suarez in a Spanish web video that says we can’t trust him.

Mirenlo! Es Daniel Perez! Dice que es Republicano,” says the voiceover that sounds like a wellknown former radio man at Univision radio.

“Look at him. It’s Daniel Perez. He says he is Republican, running for the legislature. But here we see him having a good time in Cuba taking his engagement photos. Because Daniel Perez is enjoying the ties created by Obama with the Castros permitting travel that feeds the dictatorship, while the ladies in white are beaten, while dissidents are oppressed, while the exile yearns. Daniel Perez. We cannot trust him.”

Ladra can already see the mailers that are coming next — right before the absentee ballots drop in about a month.

Now, let’s be clear here. Ladra is not against travel to Cuba, perse. I myself have been to the island numerous times, as a journalist and also to visit family. But the video is dishonest because we don’t need the ridiculously relaxed Obama policy as Cuban Americans. We were allowed to visit Cuba for family reunification before the closer more normalized relations began. Clearly, it is one thing to go and take family food and medicine they can’t get there and quite another to go with a couple of photographers and a wardrobe — why not a stylist? — for a four-day photo shoot using the backdrop of a crumbling city where native-born photographers and other artists do not have freedom of expression to create whatever they want. And then to post the pictures on a pubic website celebrating couples’ engagements — as if you were Jay Z and Beyonce? Shake my head. It’s not illegal or even so wrong — at least he’s Cuban — if maybe a little impulsive. It’s just kinda dumb for someone who wants to run for office locally as a Republican.

Still, travel to Cuba may not be the kiss of death it used to be. How many of the Cuban voters in Westchester know someone who has traveled to Cuba and taken medicine or other items to their family members? How many of them have family members or friends who have gone to Cuba to see relatives and taken selfies by La Catedral in Habana Vieja? Lots. Enough to perhaps make a difference in an election? We’ll see.

Perhaps it depends on how well Perez can cast Mallea as a carpetbagger who is riding his successor’s coattails. 

“Mr. Mallea has shown his true colors as a deceiving liar,” Perez told Ladra late Friday, hours after the video was posted. “I have never supported Obama’s travel policy.

“As the only Cuban American in this race, I take issue with Mr. Mallea’s exploitation of the suffering of the Cuban people for his political gain. What Mallea should be explaining to the voters of District 116 is his political opportunistic interest in a district that he has not lived or been registered to vote in,” Perez said, calling his oponent “a desperate man taking desperate measures.

“The residents of District 116 have been fortunate to have been represented by one of their own, someone who grew up in our district and understands what matters to us. I aim to continue that legacy, as I have lived in the heart of Westchester since I was 6 years old,” Perez said.

And why does the trip have anything to do with how he would advocate for us in Tallahassee? How does this matter in a race that is about jobs and education and heathcare and transportation funds and workforce housing and tolls?

Jose Mallea, left, and Daniel Perez, right.

The bigger question is why does Mallea, who has more money and the endorsements of Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, (Ladra thought that Diaz had also endorsed him but the state rep says he is staying out of it) need to go on the attack against this first-time candidate with zero name recognition? Why is the perceived front runner in the race giving Perez the time of day with a slick video that uses dramatic clips of activists being beaten and photos of Obama and Raul Castro and a lot of red?

Could it be that Mallea has seen the signs? No, literally, the Perez yard signs that are already popping up here and there on residential blocks from 87th Avenue to the Turnpike?

Ladra has a theory that Mallea has polled — we are certain he has a soft money PAC account somewhere, what with all his connections and endorsments — and found that he is not doing as well as he thought. Or that Perez, a good-looking, well-spoken, 29-year-old with roots in the district, is doing better than he expected.


13 Responses to "Cuba engagement photos become issue in GOP 116 primary"

  1. Bobby   June 3, 2017 at 12:46 am

    Short-sighted judgment on Perez’s part (given his constituency), but…the establishment sucks and we hope there is a change in the types of candidates they push. Don’t know Mallea personally. Just sounds like he is hardcore establishment.

  2. Food for thought   June 3, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Why do I suddenly remember how Jose Felix Diaz went after Ana Rivas Logan on her Cuban roots or lack there of? This sounds very familiar.

  3. Alma Marlas Bolas   June 3, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Ladra. Hanging out in Cuba “de farandula” for romantic pics is just wrong and using “mi Tia esta enferma” to sugar coat it is bullshit. Plain and simple.

  4. Miguel torres   June 3, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve met Mallea. He seemed like good people. Perez excuse seems weak imo

  5. David   June 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    When are people/candidates gonna stop exploiting this Cuba crap? It’s disrespectful to the voters.

  6. Alma Marlas Bolas   June 5, 2017 at 5:32 am

    When people/candidates stop exploiting Cuba while its people suffer under its oppressive regime. The only disrespect is your ignorance you prick.

  7. Mireya Geilin   June 5, 2017 at 6:49 am

    My neighbor already has a Perez sign in his lawn & I wondered who he was. Thank you Ladra for sharing the story. In a couple of places you mention Suarez… Suarez who? In any event, Perez seems immature & lacking judgement; while Mallea seems he’s “THE” Establishment candidate. I don’t like NEITHER. Ladra, please provide input an all running in this race. Thanks!

  8. Manny   June 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Shameful that Mallea would even start dirty campaigns. What he should do is demonstrate he would be the best choice. Specially as he is one of many that put out life in danger with his veer making business. Yes ok he creates jobs and is a businessman but how many DUI’s or deaths has his beer business really created.

    To the Cuba issue people get over it none of us here will solve this problem left behind by our grandparents/parents. This is only resolved internally like te Venezuelans are doing. Not by leaving the country like many did and are still doing.

    I applaud Perez for going to visit I do however think he should had been a little smarter about having those images on the web available for people to see.

  9. Pingback: Venezuelan leader may join House 116 race for Democrats | Political Cortadito

  10. luv ure blog but I know the way u operate luv   June 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Mallea is biz as usual in the state. If you think that is a good thing then vote for him.
    Cuba has made a lot of Miami campaign consultants rich, I hope this blog is not looking to work that angle.
    I hear that A. Gutierrez is worth 10M from a lifetime of this kind of smear tactics.
    What would you do with that kind of money?

    • Alma Marlas Bolas   June 8, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      Boy. Dropping out of high school truly took a toll on you. What does anything you say have to do with fact that this guy Perez went on a bar hopping, salsa dancing, maracas swinging, cigar smoking and picture taking randevu in Cuba under the cheap pretext of visiting “La vieja tia Lola” – and if you red this blogs article (Even if English is your second language) you’d see that Ladra is not seeking that “angle”. Prick.

  11. Carlos   July 24, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Those who call Mallea a carpetbagger forget this election was an unexpected shocker. Who knew Frank Artiles, who was elected to the FL Sen. only last Nov., would be so stupid as to fire off a racial rant in a Tallahassee restaurant full of politicians, 2 of them black?! I’m sure Mallea moved by now or he’d be vulnerable. Perez, on the other hand, is a hypocrite who decries the Obama-Castro romance but goes to Havana with his fiancee.

  12. Jose   August 31, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    For the Calle Oho junta this is a big deal but their numbers are dwindling and not the political force they once were .

    Now that they no longer dictate in Miami , they are thrown under the bus by the Rep party who they were blind lemmings for .

    I give them credit for being a voting machine UNLIKE EVERY other Hispanic ”tribe” who IF they vote only do so once a year and ignore midterm and other ”off” elections.

    Hell look at the joke that the Nicaraguans are, think Anna Navarro is the only one who votes .

    It is a shame that the Calle Ocho’s who include every older member of my family refused to look at the self serving con artists they voted for and any pile of trash with the letter ‘R’ in front of their name they blindly supported .

    The 2 choices this coming election are a disgrace .


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