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Fla. Univ. Accused Of Race Bias After 'Spanish Only' Mayoral Debate

MIAMI - A Miami mayoral debate that excluded any non Spanish speaking candidates has caused outrage among fellow hopefuls and Florida International University students where the meeting was held.

The debate was broadcast by Spanish language TV channel Univision, who invited only four out of 11 candidates running for the mayorship of Miami-Dade- all of whom were Spanish speaking.


Speaking to CBS Miami, Luther Campbell - a former rap star and African American candidate for mayor - said he was appalled at what he called a 'Cuban-only forum'.
He said: 'The university is having a Cuban-only forum, which is wrong to the students, because the students are from all different races and all different cultures and all the students don’t speak only Spanish.'

Roosevelt Bradley, another black candidate, said he was 'outraged' that the publicly funded university allowed what he called a 'polarising and divisive event' to be held on the campus.

He said: 'This turns the clock back 50 years on race and ethnic relations.'

The university hit back at allegations of racial bias, saying they were not involved in running the event, and acted merely as a venue for organisers Univision.

Mr Campbell however said this was not true, as the university had advertised the event to students with letters saying inviting students to attend.

An invitation from FIU Vice-President Sandra Gonzalez-Levy posted to students 'We encourage you to attend and be part of the political process taking place in our community. Be involved!'

Univison responded by saying they invited Hispanic candidates Julio Robaina, Marcelo Llorente, Carlos Gimenez and Jose 'Pepe' Cancio because they were the four highest fund-raisers in the campaign.

Speaking to CBS after the debate, which was broadcast in Spanish, Marcelo Llorentesaid: 'Whenever we’re invited, we show up, often times not knowing who else is invited.
'Whenever we have an opportunity to communicate to our community, we’re happy to attend.'

Another of the select four speakers, Carlos Gimenez, said: 'Well what I was told is that the criteria wasn’t whether you spoke Spanish or not, it was the four leading fund raisers.'

Students and commentators reacted angrily to the debate, saying it ignored the city's ethnic diversity.

Student Esra Erdogan said: 'We have a large Hispanic community, but this is Miami and we like to celebrate our diversity here.
'I don’t think it’s right to exclude any candidate.'

The political impact of last months census results is already being felt across the country.
Analysts and black groups are acknowledging there could be fewer black-majority districts, as African-Americans increasingly move out to once predominantly white suburbs.

Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, said improved integration will make line-drawing more difficult.

He said: 'The demographic phenomenon we're seeing could cause some big concerns in terms of African-American seats. It's likely to make changes on how we view African-American seats.'


STORY TAGS: Luther Campbell , Univision , Florida International University , Miami-Dade , Black News, African American News, Minority News, Civil Rights News, Discrimination, Racism, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality, Afro American News, Hispanic News, Latino News, Mexican News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Latina, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality

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