Raul Martinez Spits and Yells Obscenities to Political Rival (1993 Flashback of Former Hialeah Mayor)
|Who is former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez? In 1993, these were the news about Raul Martinez:
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Mud is flying in Hialeah’s mayoral horse race : Despite the fact that he is a convicted felon, Raul Martinez is favored to win reelection in no-holds-barred contest
Los Angeles Times
When Raul Martinez was reelected to his third term as Hialeah mayor in 1989, he had just been indicted on federal charges of racketeering and extortion. He still won 53% of the vote.
Now, with another mayoral election just days away, Martinez is a convicted felon running for reelection as the city’s suspended mayor who soon may have to serve a 10-year prison sentence. But he is still expected to win.
“What it means is that people are saying: ‘This guy was framed,’ ” said Martinez, 44, commenting on polls that show him well ahead of four challengers. “No one has ever doubted my management abilities. People might say: ‘Maybe he did something outside of government, but he never neglected the city.’ ”
Outside of southern Florida, Hialeah is best-known as the site of one of the country’s premier horse racing venues, a lushly landscaped park where flocks of pink flamingos circle the infield as thoroughbreds circle the track.
But closer to home, in the greater Miami area, Hialeah is known as a blue-collar town where the only thing rougher than the pot-holed streets is the politics. In the last two weeks, Martinez’s opponents have circulated a flyer that features the suspended mayor’s FBI mug shot under the words, in Spanish, “Convicted felon.” Days after the flyer first appeared, Martinez and one of his rivals met at a Miami radio station, where they reportedly exchanged obscenities and spat in each other’s faces.
“I’ve never seen politics like this in my life,” said Hugh Cochran, a civic activist who helped found a Hialeah citizens’ group. “Screaming at council meetings, chanting, fights in the corridor. Is this the image of government in this country, the democratic ideal? I think not.”
To understand Hialeah, Martinez and local politics, it is perhaps necessary to know something of local history–both here and in Cuba.
Founded as a cattle ranch in 1909, Hialeah remained a small town until after World War II, when longtime mayor Henry Milander used tax breaks to turn the city into a manufacturing center.
But the real boom was provided by Fidel Castro. After the revolution in 1959, waves of exiles from Cuba were drawn to Hialeah by affordable housing and plenty of jobs in textiles and dozens of other small industries. Today, Hialeah is Florida’s fifth largest city, with a population of 203,000, 90% of whom are Latino. Most are Cuban.