|The Miami News, Jan. 2, 1959|
UPDATE: The Miami Herald's Marc Caputo has posted an update on the Rubio story on the Herald's Naked Politics blog using some of the information contained in my post below.
(On Thursday, Caputo also questioned whether the Washington Post embellished their story on Marco Rubio's alleged 'embellishments'.)
As I sit down to write this post at a little after 9pm on Saturday, the most viewed story on the Miami Herald's website is an analysis of a controversial Washington Post article that charges Florida Sen. Marco Rubio misstated the date of his parents' arrival in the U.S. from Cuba.
The Herald analysis, written by veteran political reporter Marc Caputo has generated over 640 reader comments.
In his analysis, Caputo fact checks a story by Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia that says:
During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.Roig-Franzia continues for another 1600 words, essentially harping on the same thing over and over again, which is that Rubio had claimed his parents had come to the United States before Fidel Castro seized power, not after and the year was 1956, not 1959.
But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-half years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.
Roig-Franzia told MSNBC's Chris Matthews he discovered the discrepancies while researching a book on Rubio. (UPDATE: Politico reports that Roig-Franzia's story followed by a day a St. Petersburg Times report about "birthers’ concerns that Rubio might not be eligible for higher office because his parents were not citizens when he was born. The story mentioned the potentially explosive nugget about the true date of his parents’ arrival – but in the 25th paragraph.")
As I plodded through Roig-Franzia's breathless revelations, I kept waiting for him to get to the real point of the piece: Perhaps while he was examining the Rubio family's naturalization papers and social security documents he discovered that Rubio has been hiding the identity of the man on the grassy knoll or that Rubio knew the location of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
No such luck.
It takes Roig Franzia 1600 words to tell his readers that Rubio has been fudging on the year his parents came to Miami.
Well, stop the presses!
Rubio isn't be the first politician to embellish his record. And he won't be the last.
But, who can blame him?
His choice was clear.
Claim your parents came to the U.S. in 1956 to escape the brutal repression of the long-dead dictator Batista who no one remembers.
Or you can say your parents fled the Communist Castro regime in 1959. Use the word communism in Miami and you get attention.
Besides, what's a little embellishment among friends?
Hang around outside the Versailles any night and listen to the stories of the old men who gather there. You'll leave convinced that every Cuban male in Miami over the age of 60 worked for the CIA at one time.
In his analysis of the Post story, Caputo raises another question confronting Rubio: "Beyond the typical conservative-liberal feud, the issue became a point of departure over immigration and just what constitutes a political 'exile.' "
In a 2006 address in the Florida House, the Herald's Caputo writes that "Rubio didn’t say that his parents fled the island nation and he wasn’t referring to just those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. Instead, he specifically said he was talking about "a community of exiles." That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami."
So, the question is: Can Rubio claim his parents were "exiles" fleeing repression? Or were they simply immigrants coming to America for a better life?
I did a little checking and found something that none of the writers examining this issue have bothered to mention.
Miami has been home to many who, years before Castro even thought of taking power, have called themselves "exiles."
Here are a just a few of the many articles the old Miami News published before 1959 that refer to Miami Cubans as "exiles."
|from the Miami News, Jan. 10, 1954.|
|from the Miami News, March 27, 1955.|
|from the Miami News, Oct. 30, 1956.|
And finally, here's a Miami News story about a Cuban exile who lived in Daytona Beach in 1948, and who one day hoped to return to Cuba.
His name was Fulgencio Batista.
|Click to enlarge.|