Miami’s Versailles cafe regulars are expressing their fury after an “invasion” by former President Donald Trump and his entourage. Following his criminal arraignment earlier in the week, Trump visited the popular restaurant in Little Havana, where his supporters serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” in front of reporters.
Opinions were sharply divided among the regulars, as reported by Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post. Lourdes Fernandez, a neighborhood native, watched the former president address the crowd through a live stream and found it sickening. “I felt a turning in my stomach,” confessed the 51-year-old, adding, “I thought I was going to be sick.”
According to Paquette, the scene at the iconic Versailles cafe, where presidential candidates often engage with the community, sparked strong reactions among Cuban Americans both near and far. Some praised the establishment for hosting a politician they deemed “anti-communist” and wrongly accused, while others vowed to boycott the cherished gathering place, condemning the enthusiastic reception of someone accused of compromising national security.
Marisel Morales, who served in the Bush administrations, expressed her displeasure, particularly regarding evidence suggesting Trump mishandled classified information at his Mar-a-Lago estate. “It’s not as if he was charged with breaking a dish in the White House. He was charged with jeopardizing the national security of the United States,” lamented the Cuban-American, criticizing the celebratory atmosphere at the cafe as “an insult to the country that took us in.”
Rick Estrada, married to one of the cafe’s owners, defended the visit, stating, “Our founder, my father-in-law, was adamant: Regardless of their political views, anyone who wants to come has always been welcome. It’s a gathering place for open ideas, and we value the First Amendment.”
Meanwhile, Fernandez contemplates never returning. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back there again,” she admitted. “Trump is more than just an ordinary politician in my eyes. He’s a criminal.” She later added, “It was all a spectacle and a betrayal. He claims to be anti-communist, but in every other aspect, he’s an aspiring dictator.”
Caroline Camps, from the non-partisan Cuban American Women Supporting Democracy group, also expressed her dismay at Trump’s supporters.
“They appear possessed,” she said. “We’ve witnessed these ‘rallies’ before. Fidel did it.”