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Since the fabled Bay of Pigs debacle, FLOCO has ruled the Banana Republic of Miami with an iron claw. Related Gully Coverage

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election workers riot

Republicans stage protest at the Miami-Dade County election offices November 22, 2000. Colin Braley

Election 2000

Bush and the 900-Pound Gorilla

by Chuck 45

NOVEMBER 27, 2000. A 900-pound gorilla may be sending George W. Bush to the White House. Chanting its name, a mob of angry Republican operatives staged a calculated near-riot on Wednesday November 22 inside the Miami-Dade county building.

The gorilla's name is FLOCO, short for Fear of those Loco Cuban-Americans. It was the mere mention of the dreaded tire-burning, car-bombing, vote hoarding, billionaire beast, and not the silly yelling, pushing, shoving, stomping, banging, and showing of fists of the well-fed, heeled, and organized Republican apparatchik, that made the three-member canvassing board pull the plug on a vote recount that would have put Al Gore on top.

Since the fabled Bay of Pigs debacle, FLOCO has ruled the Banana Republic of Miami with an iron claw. Now FLOCO, who taught Jeb and Katherine everything they know about certification and obstruction, has national ambitions. He wants to forge a more perfect union—the United States of Banamerica.

FLOCO's On The Way!
The Wall Street Journal's tautologically conservative columnist Paul Gigot, who witnessed the "bourgeois riot," gleefully reported that "the Republicans marched on the counting room en masse chanting 'Three Blind Mice' and 'Fraud, Fraud, Fraud,'" letting it be known "that 1,000 local Cuban-American Republicans were on the way—not a happy prospect for Anglo judges who must run for re-election."

gutierrezAn even unhappier prospect, if you already owe your re-election to FLOCO, as two of the three canvassing board members do. County judges Myriam Lehr, an Independent, and Lawrence D. King, a Democrat, were re-elected to the bench thanks to the cut-throat political consultant Armando Gutierrez, last spotted as the "spokesman" for Elian's Miami relatives. Gutierrez is the man who delivers the indispensable FLOCO vote, without which nary a Republican or Democratic leaf flutters in South Florida.

The talented Mr. Gutierrez was the eminence grise behind the tawdry Elian soap opera, scripting it from beginning to bitter end. The umpteenth hours of free publicity he got from the networks during the six-month run must be the envy of every p.r. hack in the land.

Because FLOCO is a state of mind more than a corporeal creature—fear and intimidation so internalized that few car bombs, character assassinations, or even burning tires are needed at this point to ram the message home—the court that hears Al and Joe's complaints about the canvassing board mob scene may miss the 900-pound gorilla.

Hate Radio Mambi
Bringing along a tape of Radio Mambi could help get the court's ear. The biggest Spanish-language radio station in Miami harangued its listeners to come out and help shut down the recount by joining the demonstrators surrounding the county building.

"We were trying to stop the recount; Bush had already won," Evilio Cepero, a reporter for Radio Mambi, told The New York Times, as if obstructing a court-sanctioned ballot recount, and using your press pass to do it, was the most natural thing in the world. (Why, even Bob Dole thinks it is.)

According to the Times, Cepero "played a key role in the protests, roaming around the building outside and, with a megaphone, addressing a crowd of perhaps 150 people." In addition, he "regularly cut into Radio Mambi broadcasts to encourage people to come downtown."

elian riotThe Radio Mambi haranguing should not be underestimated. Spanish radio traditionally has been FLOCO's main m&t (mobilizing and terrorizing) tool. And since election night, Little Havana had been rife with talk of taking to the streets and getting revenge against Gore.

As Renardo Martinez, the self-described president of the "Elian campaign," told the Times' (UK) Daniel McGrory days before the canvassing riot, "This is Elian Part Two. The Democrats are not going to get away with it again. Gore is cheating and he knows it, and so do we." Martinez, who helped get out the Little Havana Republican vote, warned, "We are not going to stand around and watch the presidency stolen from us."

Living La Vida FLOCO
Although Al Gore cravenly supported Elian's kidnapping, to soothe FLOCO and win a piece of his vote, the gorilla will have none of it and is now thirsty for revenge. When FLOCO hates you, he hates you forever. Gore's name is dirt, like his pal's Clinton, who, as a kid, shook the hand of JFK, of Bay of Pigs infamy.

Will Janet Reno investigate the canvassing riot, as six Democrats in Congress have demanded? And, if she does, will she dwell on FLOCO or just concentrate on the beefy Republican provocateurs reportedly controlled from a white mobile home refurbished as havoc headquarters? Don't hold your breath. After Inauguration Day, January 20, 2001, the lady will be Living La Vida FLOCO.

Related links:

For Paul Gigot's "Miami Heat. A burgher rebellion in Dade County." (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24).

For Eric Alterman's "Winning by intimidation." (MSNBC, Nov. 24).

For Glen Johnson's "Bush operatives orchestrate rallies." (The Boston Globe, Nov. 26).

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