“I felt my stomach turn,” said Fernandez, a 51-year-old copywriter and editor who grew up in the area. “I thought I was going to be sick.”
Supporters had crammed the porch, chanting “Trump 2024” by the walk-up coffee window where she ordered pastelitos de guayaba.Cameras trailed the former president onto the green-and-white checkered floor inside, recording pastors and a rabbi — among other special guests searched by Secret Service agents — who prayed over him in Spanish.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back there again,” Fernandez said. “Trump is not just a regular politician, in my opinion. He’s a criminal.”….
As Florida has veered right, Trump has maintained a grip on greater Miami, where MAGA gear is commonly spotted. A recent Florida International University poll of Cuban Americans who vote Republican in South Florida found that nearly 60 percent wanted to see him run again for office. Roughly a third of Miami-Dade County residents have Cuban roots.
When something big happens — election results, Heat wins — Versailles has historically served as a hub for togetherness. Thousands streamed to the restaurant to cheer the death of Fidel Castro. And politicians head there to connect with the Cuban American community. Past diners include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and John McCain. Trump dropped by in 2016….
Dozens of Trump’s admirers, wearing MAGA hats and waving American flags, flocked to the restaurant as a motorcade shuttled him from the courthouse five miles away. Some followed minute-by-minute developments on their cellphones.
When he finally made his way to Versailles, the crowd was ready. Some chanted “USA!” and “Donald Trump!” Others sang “Happy Birthday,” in honor of him turning 77 on Wednesday. Carines Moncada, an opinion host for Americano Media, a Spanish-language conservative radio and streaming news service, joined dozens in praying next to Trump on the bakery floor…..
Trump’s popularity among Cuban Americans isn’t driven only by beliefs that he’s the victim of some left-wing witch hunt, said Michael Bustamante, a historian at the University of Miami focused on the community. Nor is it just the product of Republicans accusing Democrats of pushing socialism, which is particularly effective, he said, at triggering fear in these households.
“It’s this vision of America he’s selling,” said Bustamente, whose father is Cuban. “What Trump sells is this uber-capitalism, the complete and utter opposite of everything they perceive they left behind.”….