The Lynching of Julio Robaina: The Facts About Hialeah's Former Mayor, the Case Against Him, and How the Herald Dropped the Ball
In 1992 I fell in love con una jevita named Donita. She was a beautiful gringita with purple hair and no culo, who liked to play guitar and sing about shit I had little understanding about mostly because, at the time, I only had ESOL Level 2. Here's a picture of me in '92 after playing a show with my band Este Huevo Quiere Sal at Churchill's in Little Haiti.
Donita went on to gain success as the lead singer of a band called L7, but one of the things I remember her saying to me during our short-lived relationship was "Papi, the masses are asses," to which I always replied, "Tranquila mami, esas nalguitas estan bastante buena como estan, que coño masa ni masa?" Needless to say, we broke up, as did my band, but my English got better, and a couple of years later L7 released a song with the title "The Masses Are Asses," and I had a catharsis. Turns out she wasn't self-conscious about not having un buen par de nalgas at all, but rather trying to teach me a little something about how she felt the media treats us all. Taking important issues and reducing them to simplistic blurbs to gain attention, sway opinion, and, at times, maliciously destroy reputations.
I was reminded of Donita this past Tuesday as I sipped on my morning coladita and read the front page of the Miami Herald, where one of the stories was on former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina. The headline boldly read, "Secret Cash Was for Mistres." Under that, in bold text, it continued, "Feds: Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina took cash payments to keep his wife from knowing he was spending it on mistress."
I was shocked and intrigued by the story because (1) I wear my Hialeah roots proudly, and (2) I always admired Robaina for having converted José Martí Park on 29th Street in Hialeah from un parque ratchetero filled with gangeritos y delinquentes into a full-service community center complete with a library, a tutoring center, and a recreational boxing program for misdirected youth. Naturally, it was equally disconcerting that Robaina is a very prominent Cuban-American political figure making front-page news in what seemed to be un tremendo scandal. My initial reaction began with ME CAGO EN SU MADRE! Why? Well, because I was under the impression from the headline and subheadline that Robina was stealing cash from Hialeah to finance un tarro on Okeechobee Road.
As I read on, I realized that none of this shit was even close to touching upon what the story was actually about. I became even more intrigued by the comments people were leaving on the story and others like it, and again, Donita's voice echoed in my felt head. This time she said, "They think you're too stupid to understand the facts, papo, so it has to be about pingaso, billete y tarro!" (Admittedly, Donita's Spanish improved exponentially when I would fantasize about her.)
People commented on the story by saying things like:
And this bombastic fucking assertion:
Now, I want to be clear when I say that none of this was ever expressed in any of the stories I read in the Herald or any other publication that covered the story, for that matter, but rather was implied by a number of readers who had read the articles and were emotionally motivated enough to take the time to comment. Meanwhile, the story has absolutely nothing to do with Robaina's performance as mayor; rather, it's literally about the IRS coming after him for allegedly not filling out his taxes correctly -- more specific, not reporting as income some interest he allegedly received on a loan he made as a private citizen on his taxes. The problem I had with all of this is that the Herald didn't take a second to quell any of this slander.
Far be it for me to come to the aid of a politician, but when it comes to ruining the reputation of a man who has not been found guilty of anything who is getting the absolute shit kicked out of him publicly for not correctly filling out his taxes, I felt the need to at least say something in his defense.
For the past 24 hours, I've been obsessed with looking up every single fact I could find on the case, and in my research, I can honestly say that from the facts that the Herald and other media outlets have presented, I don't actually see a "scandal" here. Unless the "scandal" is the mierdero facts the prosecutors of the case are presenting and are thus being reported on. No reasonable examination of the facts would support any kind of prosecution.
Instead of reporting the facts with the critical analysis they deserve, minus the sensationalist headlines, the Herald is behaving like a cheerleader for the prosecution in its front-page post about Robiana -- effectively swaying the casual reader into thinking the guy is el singao mas grande de Miami.
By doing this, it places a heavy thumb on the scales of justice and assists the prosecution in a sordid attempt to assassinate Robaina's character. Given that the facts weigh heavily against the prosecution, perhaps poisoning public opinion and the potential jury pool against Mr. Robaina can help yield a conviction.