Will Miami-Dade Commissioners Side With Odebrecht or Constituents?

Thursday, February 20, 2014
In November 2012, 62% of Miami-Dade County voters stated that they no longer wanted their taxpayer funds going to unscrupulous companies who partner with tyrannical regimes, such as Cuba's Castro brothers.

This was not a poll, but an actual vote.  The voice of Miami-Dade's electorate could not have been clearer.

Yesterday, the Miami-Dade County Commission considered the fate of a non-transparent 2008 deal cut between one of these companies, Brazil's Odrebrecht, and former Miami-Dade Airport officials.

Six Commissioners stood with their constituents.

Kudos to Commissioners Rebeca Sosa, Steve Bovo, Javier Souto, Sally Heyman, Lynda Bell and Pepe Diaz for their leadership and moral compass.

Yet, sadly, some Commissioners chose the interests of this one foreign company, Odebrecht, over that of their constituents.

They are Bruno Barreiro and Xavier Suarez.  Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Zapata didn't vote.

Let's be clear, Brazil's Odebrecht is not a company that casually cuts a deal or two with tyrannical regimes. Odebrecht is the gold standard of companies that profit from repressive dictators throughout the world.

In the case of Cuba, Odebrecht is currently the Castro brother's single-largest foreign business partner. From the Port of Mariel, to sugar, to biotech, Odebrecht has consciously disregarded the sensitivities of Cuban-Americans, and has doubled and tripled down on the Castros.

In the case of Venezuela, where courageous students are currently being killed by the Cuban-led government there, Odebrecht has been a key business partner, ally and public supporter of the Chavez-Maduro governments.  Chavez himself used to tout Odebrecht's ties to his government.

Unfortunately, the will of their constituents was of no concern to some Commissioners, including Barreiro and Suarez.  Instead, they regurgitated the talking points of Odebrecht's Miami-Dade lobbyists, who claim Odebrecht USA is "different" from Odebrecht Brazil.

Not only is this an insult to anyone who understands the basics of Corporations 101 (and condescending to those who don't), but it's even more insulting when the proposed documents in question, negotiated with former Miami-Dade Airport officials, are with Odebrecht Brazil.

This was documented in a recent Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) complaint filed against Odebrecht by a group of former Cuban political prisoners.

But deception is obviously part of Odebrecht's business model.

The good news is that this process is far from over.

Moreover, it will not be the last time Barreiro and Suarez (and Zapata) will have to choose between their constituents and Odebrecht.

Hopefully, next time they will choose wisely.

For one thing is for sure, the will of Miami-Dade's voters and taxpayers will eventually prevail.