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–Eileen Higgins has a good chance to win an open seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday.
–Higgins is a Democrat. If she wins the election, then Democrats would have 7 of the 13 seats on the Commission.
-Despite being technically non-partisan, the race has become politicized by both the local Democratic and Republican parties.
-Bruno Barreiro represented the 5th district (which stretches from Miami Beach to Little Havana and includes much of Downtown Miami) for 20 years. He was forced to step down in order to run for Congress due to a new state “resign to run” law.
-Barreiro’s wife, Zoraida is running to succeed him in the seat. She was born in Cuba and helps run her family’s home healthcare business in Miami.
-Higgins was born in Ohio and raised in New Mexico. She also spent time in Latin America running Peace Corps operations and in Washington, D.C. where she worked for the State Department. She now runs a marketing company.
-A white woman (hence the “la gringa” nickname) probably wouldn’t have stood a chance in this district in recent decades. But Higgins has run a smart campaign that has motivated Democrats to get off the sidelines and commit resources to getting her elected.
-Higgins also speaks close to fluent Spanish, which has helped her while campaigning in the nearly 63% Hispanic district.
-If Higgins can win, experts think that Democrats will copy her campaign and make other local races like the upcoming 2020 Mayor race a partisan affair.
***”Why Does Any Of This Matter?”***: Because local elections in Miami have historically been non-partisan and that is about to change, probably to the benefit of Democrats.
——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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Miami’s Shame: Little Farm Trailer Park Sinks Into Slum As Chinese Land Owners Ignore Resident’s Plight
The closest that most of the world has come to the Little Farm was during the pilot episode of HBO’s original series Ballers.
In the show, retired NFL player Charles Greane works as a salesman at the very real Tropical Chevrolet car dealership (8800 Biscayne Blvd) before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson swoops in to convince him to get back on the field.
But three blocks away at the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal (8500 Biscayne Blvd), the HBO cameras wouldn’t dream of going. No luxury to be found there. Just unspeakable despair.
There, one of Miami’s former great working class neighborhoods has been turned into a slum by years of bad landlords and poor governmental oversight.
The Little Farm is not talked about much- mostly because few people seem to know about it and even fewer care.
There’s lots of poor people in Miami and the area’s middle class is somewhat used to the idea that poverty is close to home.
Homeless men and women are a ubiquitous site at most I-95 off ramps in the area, meaning that it is near impossible to avoid the thought of abject poverty on your daily commute.
And yet, we ignore it and go home to our comfortable lives filled with Netflix and minor inconveniences.
But the Little Farm is different.
I’ve lived six minutes away my entire life and didn’t know about it until a few months ago when one of our reporters wrote about it.
And even then, I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening there until I got off my ass and drove into the development last week.
“They Didn’t Tell Us Nothing”
Clairmise Blanc is fed up.
A youthful looking Haitian woman in her early 70’s, Blanc is the defacto point person for outsiders to the Little Farm. She also lives right next to a burnt out trailer that stinks to high heavens.
“My husband died on April 22, 2011 and left me here alone,” Blanc said to me, causing me to pause and offer my condolences. “I’d like to live here. But there’s no future in this. Everything is down, especially at the nighttime. Too many people are drug addicts here. I don’t like it no more. I’ve tried to find other places to go.”
Born in Haiti, she moved to the United States in 1981 and has lived at the Little Farm for eight years. She owns her own trailer, but it is poor shape, with holes in the windows and a sagging look to it. She also pays $450 a month for the trailer to sit on her small plot.
At one time, hundreds of trailers dotted the 17 acre property, but after a Chinese company bought the property last year, people started getting evicted. Then came the buy out offers– $2,000 to up and leave.
If you didn’t take the deal, it wouldn’t matter much because you had to leave under the terms of a deal the Village of El Portal signed with the Chinese company- Wealthy Delight.
From a Miami New Times report on Little Farm a few months ago:
“One day last February, everything changed. Little Farm was sold for $14.25 million, and Wealthy Delight, a company based in Coral Gables but whose owners are difficult to trace, took over. Soon it became clear the Village of El Portal had agreed to forgive more than $8 million in liens on the site if the new owners paid $575,000 and razed the mobile home park.”
Many people took the buy outs and soon their trailers were razed.
Legal action has delayed the complete eviction of the remaining residents at Little Farm, but only around 40 people remain according to Blanc. And they will all certainty will be pushed out in the coming months.
“They didn’t tell us nothing,” Blanc said. “They’ve tried to push us away. It’s not fair.”
According to multiple witnesses, a fire broke out in a Little Farm trailer on the evening of February 19th.
“It was a mother, son and a daughter was living in there,” Blanc said.
While no one was hurt, the fire was intense and devastating.
The family living there had to move- one less eviction for Wealthy Delight to conduct.
Blanc’s trailer sits less than 15 feet away from the burnt out trailer. Nearly two months after the blaze, little has been cleaned up and the smell is starting to become unbearable for the remaining residents in the area.
“I’m tired of that smell, it just stinks,” Blanc said. “I want them to clean this thing. It is a mess. People can’t live like this.”
I start to cough after the breeze picks up and I notice how disgusting the burnt out remnants really are.
“That’s the office right there,” Blanc said while pointing towards the land lord management building across the road.
The burnt out unit is directly in front of the office, which means that the land lord would have to see it everyday as they arrive for work.
“They don’t care,” Blanc said of Wealthy Delight. “You think if they cared, they would have cleaned it a long time ago. But it’s been two months now. If they cared, they would have cleaned it because people are living here.
I ask her if she thinks the trailer hasn’t been cleaned up as a way to get her to move.
She demurs and says that in order for her to leave they are going to have to fork out more money.
El Portal Village Manager Jason Walker told RISE NEWS that he had not been aware of the fire but that it was the landlord’s responsibility to clean it up.
A representative for Wealthy Delight refused to answer questions on the phone and asked for questions via email, which they have also not answered.
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All Photo Credits: Rich Robinson/RISE NEWS.Post Views: 13
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Ever since Nicolás Maduro’s rise to Venezuela’s presidency in 2013, the nation’s already unstable political and social situation has continued to deteriorate.
Insecurity, food shortage, a devastated economy and peaceful protests followed by violent repression are part of Venezuela’s daily life.
And millennials in the country are increasingly caught up in the unrest that threatens to tear apart the nation.
“Everyday, I see something that makes me think that we have to find a way out of this,” 19 year old student Juan Simón Ávila said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “There’s no day in Venezuela in which you’re happy or in which you can say that nothing happened in the country. It’s very hard.”
Ávila is a TRX fitness coach, and a musician.
Everyday, he leaves his house at 7 a.m. to go to work and everyday he see’s something dramatic in the streets of Valencia, the nation’s third largest city and the home of University of Carabobo, where Ávila goes to school.
“I see what’s going on,” Ávila said. “There’s people eating from the garbage and long lines of people outside of gas stations and food markets. People have left their jobs and they seek for any activity that may create more income to survive. In Venezuela we don’t live, we survive.”
In the past few years, Venezuela has suffered from a serious shortage not only in staple foods such as milk, chicken, coffee and rice, but also on staple products such as toilet paper and even medicines.
The Venezuelan economy is heavily reliant on global oil forces, and times have been tough in recent years as the price has been driven low.
This shortage of daily stable items is called by some Venezuelans, “Maduro’s Diet”.
“The amount of food has declined and people eat less,” Ávila said. “Not only that, but we’re also worried about not having enough food to get through the week and about insecurity. I go out and I worry about getting robbed, kidnapped or even killed. I want to walk through the streets without being afraid.”
Venezuela’s streets also witness the abusive and violent way in which the army and the police crush the citizens’ pacific protests.
They throw tear gas and shoot lead balls as well as real bullets to Venezuelans who attend protests with nothing but banners, whistles and tambourines.
As protests become a daily occurrence in Venezuela, the importance of the young generations cannot be overstated.
They are forming the core of protests and are pushing for rebuilding their country while forcing their voices to be heard.
“There are no reasons to stay at home, but there’s too many reasons to go out there and fight to recover our country,” Ávila said. “I want to finish my degree and I want to leave, but I want to come back and rebuild Venezuela. How could I come back if I didn´t fight until the last day I was here?”
Now in his third year as a student in the University of Carabobo, Ávila has seen how the country’s fragile economy and growing instability have taken a toll in the education sector.
“Universities are a mirror of Venezuela’s situation, or at least mine is,” Ávila said. “Everything is abandoned. The university is destroyed and my college is falling apart.”
The University of Carabobo, which runs on federal funds, is one of Venezuela’s five autonomous universities.
However, given the state of the country’s economy, the university has not received any federal aid to support itself for over six months.
With no money to maintain the facilities or pay the professors, university authorities are still deliberating whether to declare bankruptcy and suspend the institution’s activities.
“I wouldn’t go to class anyway,” Ávila said. “Venezuela comes first because if we don’t fight for it now, then we won’t do it ever. And how is it useful to me to go to college and attend classes if I won’t have a country to work in?”
With escalating street violence and a repressive and tyrannical government in charge, Venezuelans see no quick solution to the problem that afflicts their country.
“This government has to stop,” Ávila said. “Maduro has to leave. We’ve called for pacts and elections, but they have shown they don’t care about what anyone says. I don’t see any way of solving this conflict in the near future. Maybe we need a big rebellion or a foreign intervention because Venezuela’s situation will not be solved through democracy.”
Ávila said he looks forward to finishing his degree in Fiscal Science and going to Mexico with his sister Rosa María to play music.
“People out there have to know that there’s people here fighting for Venezuela,” Ávila said. “They have to know that Venezuelans’ human rights are being violated, but that we’re still here facing this government. They have to know that there’s people who believe that this country will get through this. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but we will get through this. People out there have to realize and talk about how there’s something going on in Venezuela.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Photo Credits: Juan Simón Ávila/ SubmittedPost Views: 5
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By Staff Report
RISE NEWS is hiring freelance writers as we continue to grow and deepen our coverage of South Florida politics, culture and trends.
The best candidates for these positions should be energized about telling stories that matter and be able to meet a deadline.
Most of our writers are at the start of their careers and are looking to gain valuable experience in a professional news setting.
However, we have also had successful writers who are more advanced in their careers, and write for us on the side in order to keep their journalistic skills honed.
So here’s the deal:
Pay: $20 per story.
Regularity: You can write multiple stories per day or a few stories a week. It really is totally up to you!
Professional Development: Your stories will be edited (Sad we have to say that even) and then positioned in a way to make an impact locally. We will also give you direct feedback on how you are doing and give you actionable advice on how to improve. Since we are a start up, there are also opportunities to grow within our company.
How To Apply:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org the following items:
-A copy of your resume
-A link to an online portfolio and/or writing samples.
-Be a nice human being who we would want to hang out with!
Applications will be answered quickly as we looking to fill the open positions ASAP.Post Views: 8
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