The Cuban people have contributed much of their rich culture and heritage to South Florida: Food, music, dance, boleteros.
While you may be familiar with salsa music, ropa vieja, and lechon asado, you’re probably wondering just what the hell is a boletero?
Indigenous to the South Florida region of the United States and most commonly found in the nearly all-Cuban City of Hialeah, they are absentee ballot brokers. They claim to be doing a community service, assisting elderly and disabled voters by collecting their ballots and mailing them in.
But many boleteros, who are usually paid out of candidates’ campaign coffers, have been accused of strong-arming people to vote for particular candidates and even filling out ballots themselves.
In Florida it’s illegal to be in possession of more than two absentee ballots, but in July, alleged boleteros dropped off a bundle of 164 at a local post office. They were traced back to Sergio Robaina, the uncle of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina. The woman who actually dropped them off at the post office was Anamary Pedrosa, who ran the Hialeah office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr. ¡Ay, dios mio!
Just this week it was revealed that Florida Governor Rick Scott got in on the act during his successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign, with records showing he paid a $5,000 “contract labor fee” to 74-year-old Hialeah resident Emelina Llanes, identified by multiple sources (including former Hialeah Police Chief Rolando Bolaños) as a boletera.
Scott lost early voting and Election Day balloting in Miami-Dade County, but slaughtered Democrat Alex Sink in absentee ballots by 20,745 votes. This was quite helpful, considering Scott ultimately won the whole race by a mere 1.15 percent.
As evidenced by the 2000 presidential debacle, elections aren’t exactly our thing in Florida so, following state and local voting in August, we revived our custom of contesting the results in court.
Absentee ballot controversies have led to lawsuits in mayoral races from Miami-Dade to Volusia County.The winner of the Miami-Dade election, incumbent Mayor Carlos Giménez, was pictured with alleged boletera Daisy Cabrera—who was later busted taking 19 absentee ballots to a Hialeah post office—during the grand opening of his campaign office last July.
Bienvenido a This Week in Florida.
- It's just your typical "boy meets donkey, boy fucks donkey, boy loses donkey, boy wants donkey back because ‘I paid $500 for her’" story. In Ocala, they really love to tap that ass.
- Some custody disputes end amicably, while others, like this one in Baker, end with a woman beating her ex with his own prosthetic leg.
- This Sanford man beat his girlfriend with her dog during a fight over crack.
- South Florida is notorious for drivers with no insurance. Now at least they’re faking it—using online templates to doctor up bogus auto insurance cards.
- Ernest Hemingway here was arrested for punching a Vero Beach pizza delivery guy ‘because he forgot the garlic knots.’
- A guy in Port Richey threatened some people with a flare gun and then shot their dog with it.
- Mitt Romney put the “orange” into the Orange Bowl when he showed off his new tan on a visit to the University of Miami.
- More bad news for Romney in Florida: A survey says that 55 percent of traditionally Republican-leaning Cubans (they’ve held that grudge since JFK and the Bay of Pigs) are voting for Barack Obama.
- The City of Miami Police Department fired a cop for a "practice and pattern" of reckless speeding. Fausto Lopez had been clocked going over 90 miles per hour on more than 80 (!!!) occasions, including a high-profile incident caught on dashcam that set off a feud between Miami cops and Florida Highway Patrol.
- A 15-year-old Port Charlotte kid shot three friends with a pellet gun because they refused to smoke synthetic marijuana with him. That’s how we do peer pressure in Florida.
- In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys botched their bid on the URL Cowboys.com at a Florida auction. Now, it’s launched as a male dating site, where users can “find yourself a cowboy.” There had to be a Florida connection.
- The Happiest Place on Earth just got a little happier: For the first time in its 41-year history, Walt Disney World will sell beer and wine at the Magic Kingdom theme park.
- Back in the 1970s and 80s, it was so common for Floridians to stumble on bales of marijuana washed up along the shore, or for fisherman to catch a bale, there were nicknames for it like “square grouper” and “seaweed.” Heck, I even made a movie about it. This week, in the aptly named Lauderdale by the Sea, one beachgoer came across four 15-pound bricks. He grabbed one of them and took off running, but didn’t get far.
- In this week’s public official arrest report: Former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner was busted for campaign finance violationsand Okaloosa County Commissioner James Campbell was charged with perjury and official misconductfor failing to report income.
- A chef walked into the dining room of Steamer’s Restaurant in Key Largo at dinnertime and fatally stabbed himself in the neck.
- The U.S. Postal Service is asking Floridians to please stop crashing their cars into post offices, after 14 incidents so far this year.
- Former Broward County School Board member Jennifer Gottlieb had extramarital affairs with two high-ranking Citigroup bankers—while she was voting on business they were conducting with the school system. But she wasn’t indicted because there’s no “law forbidding voting on public matters involving intimate friends.”
- Marine scientists are asking Floridians to stop interrupting manatee orgies. Tempting though it may be.
- Casey Anthony (famous for being acquitted of murdering her daughter) has been offered $20,000 to fight Michelle "Bombshell" McGee (famous for breaking up Jesse James and Sandra Bullock’s marriage) in a “celebrity” boxing match in South Florida. I just hope this possible detour into boxing doesn’t delay Anthony’s inevitable porn debut.
- A Hollywood martial artists on trial for double homicide claims that he stabbed his wife 30 times and her 14-year-old son 51 times in self-defense.
- A Sarasota cop fired in 2009 after a video showed him kicking a handcuffed suspect got his job back—plus three years’ back pay.
- The space shuttle Endeavor, mounted to the top of a jumbo jet, made its final flight last week, departing Cape Canaveral for Los Angeles(with the requisite layover in Houston).