After Fleeing Socialism, Some Immigrants Fear for America’s Future

September 30, 2020 Updated: October 1, 2020

MIAMI—A diverse group of supporters gathered outside President Donald Trump’s hotel in Doral, Florida, hoping to catch a glimpse of him during a recent Latinos roundtable event. Many were exiles from socialist or communist regimes such as Cuba and Venezuela.

This personal backdrop—many having fled to America—and the notion that the Democratic Party has been shifting further left, are key factors behind their support. The administration’s repeated sanctions against the regimes of Venezuela and Cuba helped solidify their decisions.

Jorde Lewis, a Venezuelan American, said he couldn’t comprehend why anyone from his home country would vote for the Democratic Party, since he believes they are “offering socialism.” A majority of Venezuelans live in poverty and millions have fled the regime.

“We left socialism to come to a capitalist state,” Lewis told The Epoch Times on Sept. 25. “I know exactly what it’s like to live under socialism, not to have food, not to have electricity.”

Epoch Times Photo
Jorde Lewis outside Trump National Doral Miami in Miami, on Sept. 25. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times.)

“The minimum salary in my country is a joke,” he said. “Its $5—and a bottle of ketchup is $1.”

In July, presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would be “the most progressive president in American history.” His agenda has also been described as progressive by left-wing media.

Lewis said he fled to America because of the opportunities it presented as a capitalistic society. He doesn’t want a big government, he wants a small one, “so we can have the freedom to be human beings.” This year, Lewis won’t be voting by mail: “I come from a socialist country and they always cheat in the elections.”

“We don’t want this country to become the country that we left behind,” he said. “We want institutions, we want freedom, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms.”

Dozens in the crowd that had gathered outside Trump’s hotel expressed similar sentiments. Florida, which has 29 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to be elected president, is a key battleground state.

Virginia Mancur, a Nicaraguan American, said the support from his community for Trump is stronger than it was in 2016.

“What do they want, something like Venezuela here?” Mancur told The Epoch Times. “Most Nicaraguans and Ecuadorians are supporting Trump.”

Epoch Times Photo
Alex Gubanos outside Trump National Doral Miami in Miami, on Sept. 25. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times.)

Voting registrations paint a picture as well. According to Sept. 1 voting registration statistics in Miami, 301,317 Hispanics have registered for the Republican Party of Florida, while 273,129 have registered for the Florida Democratic Party.

The Trump administration has been courting Latinos and Cuban Americans in Florida through advertisements and other means. Democrats, meanwhile, have expressed concern that Biden is rapidly losing ground among Cubans.

Alex Gubanos, a Cuban American, told The Epoch Times he’s voting for Trump because the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan he received greatly benefited his business of about 600 employees. Gubanos says he “100 percent” supports the sanctions against Cuba by the administration, adding that he has family living there.

From what he’s seen, he says most Cuban Americans around him are voting for Trump.

The top four counties in the United States with the highest concentration of Cubans are all in the state of Florida—Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach—according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Renzo Lopez, who was born in Peru and moved to the United States when he was 8 years old, said he knows what it’s like living in a Third World country.

Epoch Times Photo
Renzo Lopez stands outside Trump National Doral Miami in Miami, on Sept. 25. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times.)

“My parents [worked hard] to come [to] this country to give us a better life,” he told The Epoch Times. “I don’t want this country to turn out the same way my country was.”

Lopez also said he’s seeing more individuals in the Latino community switching from the Democratic Party to Trump this year.

“A lot of my family members actually switched,” he said. “I see a lot more support from the Latino community. I would probably say over 50 percent of the community I’m in contact with on my Facebook, and in Miami.”

“We are tired of the riots” Lopez added. “We stand for family values. I’m tired of people calling us racists, or sellouts.” 

Leyla Celly told The Epoch Times that she’s seeing 90 percent of her fellow Lebanese Americans in Miami voting for Trump.

“Even American Syrians, they are voting for Trump for sure,” Celly said. “Minorities need someone who is sincere and supportive.”

Epoch Times Photo
Leyla Celly outside Trump National Doral Miami in Miami, on Sept. 25. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times.)

On Sept. 23, Trump added new sanctions against the regime in Havana, including new restrictions on Cuban exports and the barring of Americans from staying at regime-owned properties. He said the sanctions are part of “our continuing fight against communist oppression.”

Trump said the new sanctions “will ensure U.S. dollars do not fund the Cuban regime.”

The president has also repeatedly sanctioned Venezuela.

Polls meanwhile have indicated that more Latinos are voting for Trump. One recent NBC News/Marist poll revealed that 50 percent of likely Latino voters of Cuban descent favor Trump, compared to 46 percent for Biden.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao_