Friday, December 30, 2011

Versailles restaurant: Mecca for Cuban Americans in Miami

I am wrapping up a trip to Miami, where I have been meeting with Cuban-American leaders, activists, writers, bloggers and others.
Many people ask to meet at Versailles restaurant along Calle Ocho. It's probably the most popular gathering spot for Cuban-Americans in South Florida.
On Dec. 28, I went to Versailles for breakfast with Joe Garcia, Democratic Party activist and former director of the Cuban American National Foundation.
I was back at Versailles for lunch the same day with lawyer and Bay of Pigs veteran Tony Zamora, but it was so packed that we wound up going to La Carreta restaurant a block away.
Then I returned to Versailles again that night for what was billed as a candlelight vigil.
There weren't any candles, but there were speeches aimed at demanding the release of three prisoners in Cuba - Ivonne Malleza, Isabel Haydee and Ignacio Martinez.
Those attending included U.S. Rep. David Rivera, former political prisoners and brothers Ariel, Guido and Miguel Sigler, and essayist Pedro Pablo Arencibia. They all appear in the photo above. Not shown is Angel de Fana, director of Los Plantados hasta la Libertad y Democracia en Cuba, who presided at the event.
When I told Alex Cruz, a spokesman for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, that I always seem to be returning to Versailles, he wrote:
That is great that. U have experienced Mecca.

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