Mel Martinez was sworn in yesterday and is now the first ever Cuban born US Senator in history. Regardless of personal politics, every Cuban-American has got to feel a certain pride in Mr. Martinez.
”Mel, welcome,” said Cheney to the man who served as President Bush’s housing secretary. During the ceremony, Martinez sat in the chamber with other political stars such as New York’s Hillary Clinton, Arizona’s John McCain and Illinois’ Barack Obama.
He passed his finger pensively over a bronze plaque that bore his name on a wood desk.
”It was just, wow, it happened. And I was really humbled by it,” he said. “I never dreamed this big. I promise you.”
Martinez, who was born in Sagua la Grande, Cuba, fled Fidel Castro’s government when he was 15 as part of Operation Pedro Pan, a massive airlift of thousands of Cuban children out of the island in the early 1960s. He settled in Orlando, where he met his wife, Kitty, and launched his political career.
At the ceremony were dozens of other Cuban-Americans that had been part of Operation Pedro Pan. They were all beaming with pride. I dont think any of them could have ever imagined, back then, having been separated from their parents and living in a new country, that one day one of them would achieve such an honorable and prestigious position in the government of the United States.
There was a video clip run on yesterday’s local news here in Miami that showed a smiling Mel Martinez with two men, older men, at his side. Both men were Cubans, and in their faces you saw not only pride in Martinez, but a certain satisfaction. It was their generation that paved the way for Martinez’s – and all other Cuban-Americans of his and my generation – to succeed.
So today, the US Senate has has Cuban in it. That’s a great thing, folks. We Cubans dont mess around. Resolvemos.