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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cesar Chavez, Che Guevara, what's the difference?

Civil rights and labor union leader Cesar Chavez in 1975.

AP

Civil rights and labor union leader Cesar Chavez in 1975.

12

January

As gaffes go, confusing a Latino civil right and labor icon with a Marxist revolutionary who was a chief executioner for the Castro Regime would seem to be a big one.

That is what happened late Wednesday when the president of the Florida College Democrats tried to send out a ringing endorsement to make Stephen Bittel the next Florida Democratic Party chairman. In his letter to Democratic voters, Chris Reilly praised Bittel for his work ethic and leadership skills. Then it got, well, let's say imprecise.

“But, what many of us don’t know are the stories of Stephen’s heart.  The stories of him stuffing envelopes for George McGovern, leading a fast with Che Guevara and mentoring and donating to progressive candidates and our causes.  And I’m supporting Stephen both for his understanding of how to run a large successful organization AND his heart.”

Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary from Argentina who joined Fidel Castro to help overthrow Fulgencio Batista and has been labeled Castro’s chief executioner.

An hour after Reilly sent out his letter, a new one arrived with a very different name in what was mostly the same paragraph.

“But, what many of us don’t know are the stories of Stephen’s heart.  The stories of him stuffing envelopes for George McGovern, leading a fast with Cesar Chavez and mentoring and donating to progressive candidates and our causes.  And I’m supporting Stephen both for his understanding of how to run a large successful organization AND his heart.”

Chavez is an Arizona born labor leader and civil rights activist who rose from being a Mexican-American farm worker to leading non-violent protests that gave voice to millions of migrant workers.

A spokesman for Bittel assures it was a big mistake. He said Bittel has no ties at all to Che Guevara. The statement should have said Cesar Chavez.

Bittel is one of five Democrats running to replace Allison Tant as the party leader. Dwight Bullard, Alan Clendenin, Lisa King and Leah Carius are all running for the top post. On Saturday in Orlando, Democratic activists are expected to decide who will be their leader for the next two years.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2017 10:20am]

    

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