Alex Otaola has decided to jump. The star host of Hola Ota-Ola! is a well-known Cuban-American influencer and political activist. He is 43 years old and his YouTube channel has more than 200,000 subscribers. A supporter of Donald Trump, Otaola has just completed the paperwork to enter the political arena in Florida. He will do so as a candidate for Republican mayor of Miami Dade County. Next year, he will compete with the current Democratic mayor Daniella Levine Cava, in the most populous county of the 34 that make up the state of Florida.
Why did you decide to get into politics?
I never had this idea in my mind, nor was it part of my life plans. The audience of the show, the followers I have as an influencer, they have driven me to do so. They have started demanding action, in Miami specifically. And that cannot be done if you are not in a position to make decisions. That led me to politics and run for mayor of Miami County. I have lived here for 20 years, I know the deficiencies and needs of the county and our people.
What kind of actions do you think your audience is demanding?
People want actions. Besides putting pressure on politicians, they want to see results. And the results are achieved by being in politics. Obviously, there are no people with commitment in local politics and the Nation right now.
Do you refer to someone in particular?
I am speaking specifically of the Biden administration. I am talking about the loss of liberties. We see an increasingly marked tendency to the left, towards socialism, with an increasingly present and preponderant State, and that ends up limiting individual liberties.
You knew communism first-hand. Do you see a real parallel with the current situation in the United States?
In the Cuban community we know communism, it is etched in us. It has made us escape and divide us throughout the world. It has made us people without a country, without a nation, without land. But the communists came saying that they were not communists. Castro never recognized being a communist until he was in power. Initially, people supported Fidel, republican Cuba, because they believed he had come to save us from communism and ended up handing it over to this macabre ideology. And now we see socialism, communism, the radical left in everything this administration does.
What concrete situations do you perceive this communist advance in?
In the little importance given to the people's rights. Families have less and less right to decide what their children are going to study and, if they complain, they are considered internal terrorists. The left, socialism and Marxism first attack the fundamental values: the family, the national symbols, the cultural identities of people. That is happening, and it alerts us.
Do you blame the Democratic Party as a whole, or do you see internal differences?
I don't think it is the Democratic Party as a whole, but the Party as a whole has allowed the radical wing to be increasingly present. Let it be the most heard voice of this administration.
What do you think of Biden?
He is a man who does not have all the qualities to carry out what is required. Partly due to his health condition. He is deteriorating in leaps and bounds.
Are you afraid of losing freedom by moving to a political structure that has other commitments?
I do not have commitments. And that makes me an attractive candidate. Career politicians create dependencies throughout their stay, commitments, friendships and needs "to help so that they help me." I arrive completely unprejudiced and detached.
And there is no risk for the situation to change.
On the contrary, I will have a wider radius of action. There are protocols, obligations and certain issues that must be dealt with in a different way, but there are commissions, advisers and so on for that. The county Mayor doesn't have to dominate everything, he is the administrator of many people and departments.
What do you criticize of Daniella Levine Cava, who is up for re-election?
Levine Cava hasn't done anything. There is more and more demand of housing and prices rise. The traffic problem is not solved. The airport, which is the largest gateway for Latinos, is destroyed. Two drops of water and the sewers do not drain, and that results in a completely flooded Miami. This affects insurance and the rise in prices. There is inflation and taxes also rise. That instead of looking for alternatives others than putting the hands in the taxpayer's pocket. We see a completely coward mayor, legislating in favor of insurance companies with no regard for homeowners.
What are your main proposals as a candidate for mayor of Miami-Dade?
I have 13 points. For example, reduce taxes, cleanse Miami-Dade of communist doctrine, investigate businesses that launder money for the dictatorships of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba within the country; legalize recreational marijuana; facilitate access to housing; improve public transportation which is lousy in a county designed only for people to have their cars. There is a lot to do. Implementing maritime transport would help shorten distances, while protecting the environment.
How would you carry out this "cleansing" of the communist doctrine?
Commissions should be created. People with a history of persecution, imprisonment, torture of people in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua cannot live here and enjoy freedom. In the United States there are laws on persecution, torture, harassment and others. But there is no political provision to enforce those laws.
What do you think of Ron Desantis' new legislation that toughens immigration policy in Florida?
It is a law to intimidate. To prevent hordes of people we see coming from different countries from entering Florida. But it is not fair that people are allowed in and then not allowed to earn an honest living. As a county and a state, we have to ensure the people who have already been accepted, who are here and for whom there is no reason to remove them because they are good people, make it easier for them to eat and work. That is why we see a growth in crime. We are unintentionally leading many people to informality and crime.
Are there immigrants who are exploited at work because of their "illegal" status?
There are many people with papers who cannot get a job. Because companies prefer people who are not in a position to pay them less, to exploit them in thousands of ways.
Do you have a critical way of looking at DeSantis' immigration law then?
Our feeling and experience as Latinos, the fact that we were in a difficult situation at some point, leads us to question the law. But it has a great margin of protection against human trafficking for those of us who live in Florida. That must also be recognized.
DeSantis got a landslide re-election. Has the Latino vote become more friendly towards Republicans?
I am sure that there was a change in the feeling of Florida. I have worked in the Cuban community to achieve that change. I have been explaining to people why it is important to support individual liberties and ensure security. There is no prosperity without investment. There are no cinemas, bars, walks, there is no Miami Beach without security.
Why did the Democratic Party lose power among Latinos?
In 2020, the Democratic campaign used minorities. Everything indicates that the new campaign no longer uses the Cuban community but the LGBT. We cannot allow that manipulation. We cannot allow the need to recognize and heal wounds to be used to campaign. It is not the Democrats who represent the LGBT community, nor the African-American minority, which is already the vast minority. They are not the ones who represent the values that we look for. The American dream is not based on the formulas of the Democratic Party, but on Republican policies.
Don't you see a DeSantis attack on the LGBT community?
Hey, I'm LGBT and I do not identify with this minority agenda. I am not interested in 6-year-old boys talking about putting on a dress or applying lipstick, or girls wanting to be men. Childhood is sacred. And if we are bombarding them with information that we adults have not fully elucidated yet, how could that be handled in the mind of a developing child! There is a runaway agenda towards the sexualization of childhood. It is something that parents have denounced in multiple school commisions in the United States. I cannot admit that the LGBT community allows itself to be manipulated in favor of this, which will cause more transphobia and homophobia.
Are Latinos underrepresented in positions of power?
We Latinos have to aspire to more power positions. The community will definitely be represented then when there are more people advocating for the community. We need much more representation of all nationalities and views of life.
What is missing for Latinos to get more involved with participation and voting?
As Latinos, we must work on that. Many feel borrowed, like "this is not my house." We have to break that because we are already Americans, and this is the place that welcomed us. That is where the commitment that led me to the county mayoralty campaign came from. Faced with the danger of this radical left, my contribution to North American society in gratitude is to warn and alert about what I already know and suffered.
When will there be a Latino president?
I think it won't take long. In 8 more years we are going to see a Hispanic president. And I'm sure it's not going to be a Democrat.
For now, the only Latino running for president is Mayor Francis SuÃ¡rez...
Francis did a good job in Miami. He took Miami into an applaudable modernity. But I do not think Francis is that president I envision or really want. I see more a man like Ted Cruz, a president son of Mexicans perhaps. Time will tell. But definitely a Latino is about to reach the White House.
You became one of Trump's main supporters. Why?
He is a man who has achieved everything he proposed to do in life. The alliances that nobody thought. When he came to power, I was a Democrat. And we thought about nuclear war and we already saw him pressing the red button. But little by little, within his personality - which I am not judging - the man gradually gained my trust. The guy is arrogant and loose-mouthed but he achieved prosperity, the embrace between the two Koreas, between the Arabs, pacts that were never thought of. How not to applaud that he rescues the essence and American power?
You had contact with him. How is he?
He is a good, normal guy. With his personality, his histrionics and his demeanor as a person who has achieved everything in life. He is from a show, from television. But do we prefer to bet on a decrepit person that on a person who has guaranteed security, prosperity and liberties?
After the Republican primary, who would have a better chance against Biden: Trump or DeSantis?
Trump definitively. And it is showed by the way they have to try to invalidate his possibility of reaching the White House again. If he were not a candidate who had everything to win, they would not attack him with the legal arm of the Executive and with all arms. They are putting him for target shooting so that everyone who can and wants to shoot him. I'm sure it is going to be Trump, so those of you who don't like him, prepare yourself mentally. In addition, he will do a good administration.
Which means of communication will be more prominent during this campaign: the traditional ones or the social networks?
The social networks are gaining prominence over traditional media. I announced my program there. Mayors, politicians can come out of the social networks. They will gain a little more credibility. Traditional media attribute disinformation to the networks to try to save their hegemony. My campaign is at the network level. I do not plan to do anything using traditional media at all.
Do you perceive bias in the classic media?
They are always in favor of the Democrats. We've seen it in 2020 when they decided to take Trump off the air, and he was still president. It was something unprecedented. Yes, they are biased and they are going to be in favor of the Democratic candidate.
What preference do you detect in the media: Trump or DeSantis?
If DeSantis were the Republican nominee, the media would flirt with him more than with Trump. They find him more attractive than Trump's irreverence. Trump challenges them a lot, and has put them up against the wall many times. They do not forget.
Translator: Bibiana Ruiz
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