Florida – The sign on Glenys Saavedra’s Crepe Connection Cafe reads: “Protected by Second Amendment Security.” And this Miami-Dade Cuban Restaurant owner is not fooling around. But only part of the problem she faces is from the Black Lives Matter protesters that blocked off the intersection of Tamiami Trail (actually US41) and 8th street- the main artery through the city. It’s also from the Mayor of Miami-Dade County who continues to lock down all restaurants.
The Crepe Connections Cafe is owned by Glenys Saavedra. Opened in 2006, it was thriving until March 25, when Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giminez locked down all businesses, ostensibly because of the pandemic. But the results of that lockdown, coupled with the protests, are reminiscent of her family’s struggles in Cuba.
A little background
“I was born in Cuba. My Dad was a political prisoner there for a time. He had been arrested on charges of ‘conspiracy to kill Castro.’ My Grandfather was a prominent businessman who had to go into hiding during the revolution. Castro kicked our family out of their home, stripped the people of their firearms, and told everyone ‘I can protect you.’ They went house to house to confiscate the weapons. Dad always tells me not to give up my firearms and never back down.
We came here when I was 2 years old – Dad’s brother was already here, so he got our papers for us. We settled in an Italian neighborhood in the US. Our family was relatively wealthy in Cuba until Castro took over…what I see happening here in the US is what happened in Cuba.”
Since the lockdown
Glenys has dealt with over-zealous Code Enforcement Officers, undercover enforcement officers, and protesters.
She has been “outed” 3 times for not wearing a mask or drinking coffee. One day she got a chair for an elderly lady who came by with her daughter to order takeout. As soon as she got the chair, a code enforcement officer showed up to threaten her with a $500 fine for getting a chair.
She mentioned to him, “This ain’t Russia” which antagonized the situation. Then she apologized and explained that “We’re not the enemy.” But he was not interested in anything she had to say. She told him she has a lot of friends in the FDLE, so he backed off.
Since the lockdown, restaurants had to flip to takeout only. From June 9 to July 9 they had partial opening: masks required, stringent sanitation requirements, some outside dining. They required masks, restaurants had to supply hand sanitizer that had to be visible to patrons. Tables had to be 6 ft apart and only 4 people to a table.
Glenys told us that with only 4 or 5 people a day, the lost income generated fear in some restaurant owners owners. On the 4th of July, restaurants started to see some decent numbers of patrons. They had a good weekend. But then, on July 9, Mayor Giminez reinstituted the lockdown for restaurants and gyms.
“The Mayor let us have tables outside. But this is Florida – it’s hot with 90% humidity. And there are mosquitoes.”
Some restaurant owners put up tents with fans in the parking lots. But Glenys told us that she has even been followed into her business by undercover police. Then there is the “snitch line” on fliers distributed by the city that “pit citizens against citizen.”
She told us that many of the restaurants are neighborhood hangouts for people to have coffee. Owners of the restaurants don’t want to be “police” for patrons not wearing masks or sitting too close to someone else. Another piece of familiar local society dies because of a “pandemic.”
“This is exactly how it started in Cuba and Venezuela. Fear, threats, pitting people against each other, it’s all designed to satisfy someone’s ego… 1 in 4 restaurants have shut down for good.”
As if those things weren’t enough, the Black Lives Matter protests have been the icing on the proverbial cake.
The activists blocked Tamiami Trail and 8th Street, the main artery through Miami, for hours…twice. FIU – Florida International University, and the area of its student housing nearby was supposed to be the location of the Black Lives Matter protest, but it “spilled” out onto the streets. As protesters marched, they tried to turn into the small Sweetwater neighborhood – which is primarily lower to middle income families, most of whom are elderly.
“Why the Hispanic neighborhood? Did they get a permit to march in that area? Is this an illegal demonstration? Why are they harassing the elderly?” Glenys
Fortunately, Sweetwater Police blocked off several streets with their patrol cars so that the protesters could not march through the neighborhood. When her Mom called to tell her there were “lots of police cars” in her block, Glenys she rushed to her parents’ residence ‘fully loaded’ just in case. She had to go the “long way around” to get to her parent’s home because of streets being blocked.
Glenys is well prepared, and with her “old school Hispanic Conservative” friends, she isn’t going to be intimidated. The Cuban community is known to be formidable to outsiders who wish to cause trouble, but genuinely welcoming to everyone else. Glenys is not about to “back down.” And we here at Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children are proud of her!
Featured photos – all provided by Glenys Saavedra