Carlos Vargas-Ramos

Interview with former Miami mayor
Maurice A. Ferre

Former City of Miami Mayor Maurice A. Ferre participated in a conversation at Centro recently as part of the institute’s Legacy Series, an initiative seeking to collect the vivencias and testimonios of both leaders and ordinary Puerto Ricans living stateside. The conversation was facilitated by Centro researcher Carlos Vargas-Ramos.

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The relevance of Maurice Ferre to the Puerto Rican community in the United States rests on two facts: he was the first Puerto Rican mayor of a city in the States and second, his trajectory as a political figure represents a model that is not typical of Puerto Rican elected officials in the United States. Ferre, who was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1935, led the City of Miami as it was transforming from a tourist-oriented backwater into a major U.S. metropolis with global dimensions. Yet he was not a Puerto Rican elected by or to represent Puerto Ricans.

Rather his support reflected the demographic and structural changes taking place in the United States in the last half of the 20th century. Whether as a Florida state legislator (1966-1967), Miami city commissioner (1967-1968), Miami mayor (1973-1985) or Dade County commissioner (1993-1996), Ferré was successful in mustering the support of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and non-Puerto Rican Latinos in varying degrees. His process may become a model to other potential Puerto Rican candidates as Puerto Ricans disperse, away from the states and neighborhoods of traditional settlement in the Northeast and the Midwest. The September 23 conversation began with reflections on Ferre’s most recent foray in electoral politics as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Florida earlier this year, and continued with an outline of his political trajectory as a politician. Ferré’s insights touched on a variety of subjects very relevant to the history and present conditions of Puerto Ricans in Florida in addition to perspectives on the status of Puerto Rico and U.S. politics more generally.

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Featuring Interviews

In Depth Interview with former mayor of Miami Maurice Ferre.
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In Depth Interview with Sylvia Mendez

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