The Hezbollah and the Great Sony Playstation Caper. Iranian government sponsored mosque sprouts up in Nicaragua, with ties to South Florida. Cuban spies arrested at the largest public university in the state of Florida. Gun smuggling for the Palestinian Authority. Major FCPA stings nets many individuals. The arrests of a major terrorist cell in 2006 and many others. Mexican narco-terror cartels launder their money here. There is a state sponsor of terror just 90 miles that has also set up shop in the United States. What do all these things have in common? Miami.
I spent the first half of my time on this planet in South Florida. Miami truly is an interesting town. I have many good memories and still have a lot of family in the area. If you know where to go, you can live your life completely disconnected from reality. Then there is this other side that Dave Barry sums up well:
Miami loves to party. We party to celebrate when something good happens, such as winning the World Series, which we do, like clockwork, every six years. When something bad happens, we party to cheer ourselves up. When nothing is happening, we party because we are bored. If Fidel ever dies, Miami will not regain consciousness for decades.
Yet Miami also has a very serious, some would say darker side. During the 1980s, it had the drug wars in Latin America. Some experts think that really never ended by the way. And, for some odd reason, Miami also has the dubious distinction of being the Medicare-fraud capital of the United States. This, too, has an international connection because entrepreneurial doctors from Latin America go to Miami to bilk the taxpayer. Then there are those pesky terrorism connections.
Our relatives and friends who live in South Florida tell Yleem and I that they do not understand how we can live in Virginia, just a few miles away from the Pentagon. “It’s so dangerous there.” “Terrorist are jailed and tried in the Fourth Circuit.” We can’t wait to share the latest Miami Herald story with them. According to yesterday’s Herald, several individuals in Miami were arrested for engaging in bad acts with alleged al-Qaida supporters.
As Livan Hernandez said after helping clinch the 2007 World Series: “I love you Miami!” However, we will take our chances here. Miami, party on.
On a more serious note, if you’re going to do business in South Florida, there are plenty of opportunities for a good deal with solid business people. But you should also understand the terrain, the gateway to Latin America element, as well as some of Miami’s darker edges.