More on Raul Martinez’ explosive temper and mean streak in excerpts from The Miami Herald, July 1, 1999:
Hialeah Mayor, Protester Mix It Up At Traffic Blockade
SANDRA MARQUEZ GARCIA And JOSEPH TANFANI, Herald Staff Writers
Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez took his reputation as a hands-on mayor to the streets early Wednesday, pummeling a young butcher who was blocking traffic on the Palmetto Expressway.
Both the mayor, weighing in at 6-3, 255 pounds, and the protester, 150-pound, 5-10 Ernesto Mirabal, say the other guy swung first. Martinez emerged the champion of the roadside bout. He landed a left and at least five right uppercuts as police officers jumped Mirabal, leaving the protester bleary-eyed and spitting blood. The fight video played all day on news stations…
But opinion was a lot less positive among the people who really count for Martinez – Cuban Americans. Hialeah is Miami-Dade’s most Cuban city and a natural source of support for the traffic blockades that tied up commuters Tuesday.
“This is an abuse of power,” said electrician Francisco Rodriguez, 57, standing outside Chico’s Restaurant on West 12th Avenue. “Martinez is a magnificent mayor, but on this occasion I don’t think he acted properly.”
More than 400 people gathered on the Palmetto on Tuesday night to protest the Coast Guard’s treatment of six Cuban rafters, blocking the northbound lanes at Northwest 103rd Street for about four hours. The protest turned into a battle after 2 a.m. Seven people were arrested…
Martinez said he was in bed just after midnight Wednesday when he got a call from Bolanos. The chief thought the mayor could help calm the crowd.
The Cuban-American Martinez, charismatic and hugely popular in Hialeah, showed up and tried to persuade people to leave. At one point, he had words with Mirabal, who was lying in the road. Martinez told him to get up, but Mirabal refused to budge.
Mirabal, interviewed later Wednesday, accused Martinez of trying to undercut his fellow Cuban Americans.
“[Politicians] always go and appease the public and everyone goes home. Then there is no justice,” said Mirabal, 21, who came to Hialeah from Cuba six years ago.
Mirabal said Martinez walked away but came back later for vengeance.
He said Martinez approached him from behind and sucker-punched him in the face.
“He said with these words, and I will never forget this: ‘This is the guy I wanted to get,’ ” Mirabal said. “He doesn’t have the pants to hit someone from in front.”
Mirabal, who dropped out of American High in his junior year to work as a butcher at Winn-Dixie on West 49th Street, said he tried to return the punch but was immediately restrained by two Hialeah police officers. He said he has contacted a lawyer.
Martinez has another version:
He saw a crowd at the expressway median, went to see if he could calm people down and took a fist in the face.
“So I turned and I just started punching,” said Martinez, 50. “People say, walk away. But in the middle of the adrenaline going? I can tell you that he landed probably three on me.”
Video from NBC 6 shows Martinez standing in a line of police officers along the northbound side of the road. Martinez sees something happening in the median and heads that way as officers follow.
WSVN Channel 7’s tape shows Mirabal making some pushing motions at a police officer. Martinez lunges at his neck and starts to pummel him.
Freelance photographer Fabrissio Lopez of Protel News, who shot the Channel 7 video, said he couldn’t tell who started the fight. He said he saw Mirabal yelling at Martinez earlier: “You’re a racist!” The mayor responded calmly, he said…
“Trust me that I don’t go out and look for trouble,” he said. He said he had no experience as a boxer.
“No, hell no,” the mayor said. “I’m a lover.”
Yeah, what a lover. I wonder who he practices his combination punches on. The good thing about Raul in congress is that if anyone opposes him in a debate, he’ll be ready to “throw down” at a moment’s notice and help us Cubans live up to the reputation we have as combative. I mean who needs the Bolivarian Youth to provoke a fight when you can land the first punch.
I’d love to see the TV footage of “The Hialeah Heavy” taking down this beanpole of an infeliz. If anyone out there has it, one word: youtube.
For more on Raul the Statesman you can always visit raulmartinez08.com