A fellow Cuban-American’s perspective on Florida’s junior senator’s latest tall tale
(Editor’s note: The following commentary was written by Patrick Monteiga, editor of Tampa’s La Gaceta newspaper, the only tri-lingual newspaper in the United States. The column appeared in today’s edition. Monteiga and his family are of Cuban ancestory. The column is reprinted with permission).
The revelations from Marc Rubio’s family history have brought us closer to the U.S. Senator than we’ve ever been before. You see, the real version of Rubio’s heritage closely resembles the Manteiga heritage.
My grandfather Victoriano, like Rubio’s dad and mom, came from Cuba to the U.S. for a job and a better life. My grandfather came in 1913 (at least that’s the story) and was hired by the workers at the Morgan Cigar Factory as the lector. Rubio’s father, Mario, came over in 1956 and found a bartending job.
Victoriano wanted to stay here permanently and become a U.S. citizen, but he was still interested in the family and friends left behind in Cuba. Mario seemed to follow the same creed.
Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was hated by my grandfather who hoped Fidel Castro would bring better days to Cuba. Mario left in 1956 during the reign of Batista supposedly because of the violence and uncertainty. It seems he also hoped that Castro would change things for the better.
In 1961, after Castro resumed relations with the USSR and nationalized American oil companies and sugar interests, Rubio’s mom, Oriales, went back to either look after a relative or to see if things were better in Cuba so her family could move back depending on the version of the story. Odd, considering that most observers could see Cuba slipping towards Soviet-style communism by then.
Victoriano also made a trip to Cuba in 1961. According to family lore, it was in an effort to help family and friends who ended up on the wrong side of the revolution.
Here’s where the Manteiga/Rubio historic narrative separates. When my grandfather came back, many in the newly-arrived exile community called him a communist and boycotted our business.
When Rubio’s mom came back it seems the whole family falsely embraced exile status saying they fled Castro and who knows, maybe they even accepted the welfare that was offered to the exile community. My grandfather came back and was ostracized by many of the exiles, while Rubio’s family, because of their lie, was embraced.
There is one more similarity. When Mario was asked if he was a communist on the petition for naturalization, he wrote no. Victoriano was visited by the FBI in 1961 to talk about the current situation in Cuba and America. As part of that visit, the FBI commented that Victoriano presented leaflets distributed by the Communist Party of Florida accusing Manteiga of being a follower of Adolf Hitler. What better proof of not being a communist could you have than the communists accusing you of being a Nazi?
Rubio’s cohorts in Miami’s exile community blocked the naming of the Ybor Post Office after my father because our newspaper didn’t trash Castro quickly enough. We wonder if Rubio’s cohorts will now turn on him because, obviously, if the Rubios were considering a return to Cuba in 1961, they couldn’t have been too critical of Castro.
We are proud of our heritage and of my father and grandfather. I am very proud that they chose honesty over the convenience of sensationalism.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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