Anti-Cuban lobby linked to bridge collapse in Florida
While Miami continues to be in a state of shock after six people died on March 15 when a pedestrian-bridge on SW Eighth Street collapsed, ties between the company responsible for the work and members of the anti-Cuban lobby, in particular Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, are coming to light
Author: Sergio Alejandro Gómez | firstname.lastname@example.org
march 21, 2018 12:03:06
Anti-Cuban Lobby in Congress, Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative lena Ros-lehtinen
While Miami continues to be in a state of shock after six people died on March 15 when a pedestrian-bridge on SW Eighth Street collapsed, ties between the company responsible for the work and members of the anti-Cuban lobby, in particular Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, are coming to light.
The 950 ton bridge, which was intended to improve access at Florida International University, was built by Munilla Construction Management (MCM) at a cost of over 14.2 million USD.
MCM, with important political ties in the city, is now coming under growing public scrutiny as investigators try to discover why the bridge collapsed just one week after it was completed, as well as the reason behind design flaws in the high-tech structure.
Initial investigations indicate that cracks in the bridge were reported at least two days before its collapse, raising questions about the conduct of the company and local authorities.
However, another aspect of the case is also making headlines: MCM’s links with Miami’s political elite and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have changed hands in order for the company to win public contracts.
One of the main beneficiaries of these “contributions” has been Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who received at least 64,000 USD from the firm, according to a report by the Miami New Times, while SenatorMarco Rubio, Representative Carlos Curbelo, and even Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, also feature on its list of political sponsors.
Whichever way, all are trying to cover up their longstanding ties with MCM and appear “shocked” over the incident. However, citizens and a few local press agencies have denounced links between the company and legislators, with the New Times recalling thatit came as no surprise that MCM was awarded the FIU contract.
“Munilla is not only one of the biggest contractors in South Florida but also one of the most politically connected thanks to years of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaigns,” noted the article.
The company is run by five brothers – Fernando, Jorge, Juan, Pedro and Raúl Munilla – who collectively have handed out more than 500,000 USD to federal candidates and over 50,000 dollars to state candidates, according to official registers.
MCM has also won other lucrative military contracts, including one for over tens of millions of dollars at the Naval Base on the illegally occupied territory in Guantánamo.
Speaking to Nuevo Herald after the fatal accident, Díaz-Balart stated that the Munilla brothers “are very involved in the cause for a free Cuba, which is a very important issue for me.”
Meanwhile, in June of last year, Pedro Munilla attended a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of the Cuban American community, before Donald Trump’s speech in Miami, when he announced new measures limiting travel to Cuba and tightening the blockade against the island.
It comes as no surprise therefore that Rubio, who opposes any kind of rapprochement with Cuba, has tried to cover up his ties with his anti-Cuban donors.
According to the Miami New Times, reporters asked Senator Marco Rubio, who had spoken to the Munillas at the site of the collapse, if he had pushed them on what went wrong, to which he responded, “There was not an opportunity to get into that.”
Rubio and Diaz-Balart have also come under harsh criticism for their responses to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School which left 17 dead. Instead of echoing voters calls for tougher gun control, both legislators have taken the position of the National Rifle Association, from which they receive millions of dollars in contributions.