MIAMI — A well-known Cuban exile journalist and writer is the star of a new Spanish-language political ad refuting accusations that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is a socialist.
The award-winning Cuban-born newspaper columnist, Carlos Alberto Montaner, appears in the radio and television ad, financed by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, that will begin airing Tuesday on several Spanish-language stations in South Florida.
"Sometimes I vote with the Republicans and sometimes with the Democrats. I have dedicated my life and I have written several books against socialists and communists. But in this election, I want to say emphatically that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are neither socialists nor communists," says Montaner looking at the camera. "I have been in exile for many years, and I know the friends of freedom perfectly. They are."
Montaner, 77, a former political detainee in Cuba, has received multiple journalism awards, worked as a university professor and been a columnist for various Latin American and United States media outlets, including el Nuevo Herald. The ad's creators hope that his career and prestige will help to promote the message beyond the Cuban-American community.
The ad's target is "the Cuban-American and the broader Hispanic community of Miami Dade, thanks to the influence and respect he inspires as an iconic anti-communist Cuban-American and as an intellectual respected worldwide for his views on democracy," said Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi, who participated in the production of the ad. "No one can say that Carlos Alberto is not one of the most recognized historical fighters against communism and socialism."
In an interview with el Nuevo Herald, Montaner, who is registered as an independent, said that although this is the first time he has participated openly in a political campaign, he had not intended to tell Cuban Americans whom to vote for.
"I have no political affiliation in this country, but I wanted to do it because I think it is an absolute injustice to accuse Biden and Harris of being communists or socialists, because they are not," he said.
Joaquin Perez Rodriguez, a political analyst and a close friend of Montaner's since his early youth in Cuba, when they both opposed Fidel Castro as students, said that the participation of the writer in this type of political message is "surprising."
"He really has to be concerned; otherwise he wouldn't say so," said Perez Rodriguez, who added that no one could question Montaner's credentials as a "defender of Cuba and Latin America against communism."
The new ad is part of an effort by Democrats, funded by Bloomberg's political action committee, Independence USA, to reach more Hispanic voters in Florida, a critical swing state that analysts say Trump must secure if he wants to be reelected.
In an early October poll conducted by the Miami Herald and Bendixen & Amandi International, Biden held an advantage among Miami-Dade Hispanic voters over Trump, 49% to 43%. But Trump won the support of the majority of Cuban-American voters interviewed, 61% to 35%.
Biden's campaign understands that the candidate needs better numbers with Hispanic voters and has made a push to fight for Florida, where Biden, Harris, and former President Barack Obama have recently participated in several in-person events. And Amandi believes that the former vice president can continue to win more votes from Hispanics, and even Cuban Americans, just one week before Election Day.
"There's not only room for growth; there are many signs that Biden and Harris are the beneficiaries of increasing support, not only among Cuban Americans but among Hispanic voters across Miami-Dade, Florida, and the country, as many of them go now to the polls to cast their ballots," Amandi said.
In recent weeks, Democrats have pushed back against what they deemed a disinformation campaign orchestrated by Trump and his followers to portray Biden as a "puppet of Castro-Chavistas in his party," a wording used in a recent statement sent by the Trump campaign.
"That the strategy is to say Biden is a socialist is offensive to people who have spent their lives fighting against communism," said former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who worked for the Bloomberg presidential campaign. "There's a lot of lies and disinformation. This demagoguery is extremely upsetting."
In another Spanish ad paid for by Bloomberg's PAC, Santiago Morales, a member of Brigade 2506, which took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion, rejected the organization's support for Trump.
"I, like many other Cubans who vote for the Democrats, are not socialists or communists," Morales says in the ad, which is titled We are Patriots. "Enough with the lies and the manipulations. "
Diaz said he admired Montaner and Morales for speaking up.
"Carlos Alberto and Santiago, these are men for whom I have tremendous respect," said Diaz. "They have been courageous people all their lives, and they are doing it again by stepping up."
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In a recent column Montaner, who has traditionally focused on analyzing different administrations' policies and not the party's leaders, explained why he rejects Trump.
"I don't like Donald Trump, in the first place, because I don't like his arrogant character as a bully who lies or exaggerates," he wrote. "I don't like Trump because, for all his despotic treatment of allies, he does the reverse when it comes to Vladimir Putin's Russia or Kim Jong-un's North Korea. I don't like Trump because I'm a Hispanic immigrant in the United States, and he rejects us."
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