Orgullo (A Continuing Series)

The staff at Babalu is always proud when of our “our own” makes it into the big time. The latest Cuban-American to earn our pride and make our chests stick out is Marco Rubio, a Republican Florida State Representative and Miami-born son of Cuban exiles.

Rubio was chosen to be the next House speaker, the first Cuban-American to hold that title in the state of Florida, the fourth most populous state in the union. Today’s Miami Herald ran a good story on Rubio which is posted below.

I won’t comment on the article since it pretty much speaks for itself, and for the values that have been instilled in Cuban-Americans. For more info, please check out my post over at 26th Parallel.

Rubio sets goals, issues challenge

In an impassioned speech, Marco Rubio — who will be Florida’s first Cuban-American House speaker — called for improving the lives of the state’s less fortunate.


TALLAHASSEE – The first Cuban American to become Florida House speaker vowed on Tuesday to be true to his exile heritage as he challenged his fellow Republicans to build on a decade of leadership in the state legislature by opening a “new era in that revolution.”

With the event broadcast live to Cuba, Rep. Marco Rubio, the 34-year-old Miami son of Cuban exiles, was unanimously named speaker for the 2006-08 legislative session by the Republican caucus.

He declared himself ”heir to two generations of unfulfilled dreams” and vowed to use his two years as leader of the 120-member House to focus on improving the lives of Floridians, especially those less fortunate.

”What we do here matters,” Rubio said. “And it will matter even more if we commit ourselves to being ambitious in our goals and determined in our pursuit of them.”

Gov. Jeb Bush made it clear Tuesday that Rubio — the first Miami legislator to become speaker in 35 years — was also an ideological heir to the governor’s rock-the-boat agenda.

”I appreciate the fact that you’re going to have the guts to take ideas, some of which may be a little controversial, some of which hopefully will be be very provocative, some of which may upset some of our buds who give us the money to allow us to run our campaigns,” Bush told Rubio after his speech. “But that’s what politics needs to be about.”

Echoing themes Bush has embraced, Rubio called on his colleagues to pursue bold ideas and reject power for the sake of power or political advantage.


He presented Republicans with a blank, hardbound book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future , and asked them to ”fill those pages” with ideas on how to create a government dedicated to providing all Floridians with the opportunity “to achieve financial security and leave for their children a better life than their own.”

He offered no details but urged House members to listen to the many Floridians now anxious about their future, to focus their solutions on future generations and to do it by not expanding government.

Rubio spoke of a fictional unwed teenage mother ”somewhere in Florida” who today will give birth to her first child.

”Lost and alone, she has spent the better part of her young life searching for someone to love her,” Rubio said. “But today, her life changed forever.”

Rubio used this example to remind his colleagues that while no lobbyist may ever register on her behalf, lawmakers must create a government that will help her child get a better education, a better economic future and a sense of security.

”But unless we are committed to a vision for Florida’s future, neither she nor her child will have a better life,” he said.

Rubio’s remarks were broadcast live by Radio Mart? and were followed by a salute from Bush.

The normally voluble Bush was left faltering by Rubio’s impassioned speech.

”I can’t think back on a time when I’ve ever been prouder to be a Republican, Marco,” the governor said. “I don’t know how I’m gonna talk.”

The governor presented Rubio with a sword that he said came from a mystical Chinese warrior named Chang, whom the governor said helped him stay true to conservative values and warned Republicans not to be complacent in the face of stiff competition from Democrats.

”Success is never final. Dan Gelber’s back there with his group of merry men,” the governor said, referring to Miami Beach Rep. Dan Gelber, the designated Democratic leader for 2006. “They’re plotting. They’re scheming. They have an agenda. They want to take control.”

Gelber, who was one of 20 Democrats on hand to celebrate Rubio’s designation, said he was flattered by the governor’s warning.

”The governor’s a smart man and if he’s concerned about Democratic ideals becoming prominent, he’s probably right,” he said.

Gelber commended Rubio for ”a high-minded speech” and ”with bipartisan pride,” congratulated him on becoming the first Cuban-American speaker.


The ceremony was also an affair of the heart for many of Rubio’s friends and family. Nearly 200 Miamians took a 9 a.m. Falcon Air flight to Tallahassee to attend the event.

Among them were Miami-Dade Republican chairman Mary Ellen Miller, school board chairman Frank Bola?os and county commissioners Rebeca Sosa, Carlos Gimenez, Bruno Barreiro and Natacha Seijas.

Some old friends marveled at his rapid ascent.

”I have no belief he’s going to be speaker; he’s still Marcito to me,” joked Maximo Alvarez, 57, a Doral gasoline distributor who has known Rubio since he was a high schooler.

The group made a beeline for the House to pick up credentials for the ceremony — and a cup of Cuban coffee.

”Tallahassee will never be the same,” said Yolanda Cash Jackson, a Broward lobbyist.

1 thought on “Orgullo (A Continuing Series)”

  1. Marco Rubio is a rising star. He is going to do amazing things as Speaker. He makes all Cuban Americans proud with his passion and eloquence. Congratulations Rubio!

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