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MIAMI-A new report on the impact of Cuban-American campaign contributions on U.S. politics reads almost like a who’s who of South Florida’s most influential property owners and commercial real estate industry professionals.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonpartisan-nonprofit watchdog, just released this first-of-a-kind survey largely in response to growing national debate over the future direction of the Cuban-American lobby in Congress.

Questions now exist about the political resolve of the anti-Castro lobby, for instance, considering the very publicly reported discord among members of the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, the group considered by many as most responsible for helping to shape U.S. policies on the Cuban trade embargo.

Those policies are likely to become an even larger issue now that Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC, the embargo’s leading congressional proponent, has announced his retirement.

Over a 22-year period, the nonprofit watchdog found that Cuban-Americans contributed about $8.8 million to federal campaigns.

Starting with the 1979-80 election cycle, the group also found that annual contributions increased by nearly ten-fold from $180,000 to more than $1.7 million by 1996. The report is available via the group’s Internet website (www.opensecrets.org).

“Starting in 1996, the vanguard of traditional Cuban-American interests in Washington, D.C., the Free Cuba PAC, experienced three consecutive election cycles of diminishing financial support from the community,” according to the report.

Leading Cuban-American contributors mentioned in the report include Alfred Estrada, most notably publisher of Vista Magazine but the chief executive officer of Miami-based Pan American Enterprises, a diversified holding company with substantial real estate interests. The Estrada family contributed $725,310 over the 22-year period.

Other contributors who are actively involved in the South Florida real estate industry include the following:

–Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of Miami-based MasTec Inc. Considered the largest Hispanic-owned company in the United States, MasTec installs telecommunication infrastructure systems for some of the biggest corporations in the country. The Mas family, whose late patriarch Jorge Mas founded CANF, has given $364,670 to federal campaigns since 1979.

–Manuel D. Medina, chairman and CEO of Terremark Worldwide Inc. Founded as a commercial real estate services firm, Terremark is morphing into an Internet and managed services company, operating the 700,000-sf Technology Center of the Americans in Downtown Miami. The Medina family has contributed $115,560 in federal contributions since 1980.

–Sergio Pino, chairman, president and CEO of Miami-based Century Builders Group Inc., which builds single-family and multifamily homes. The Pino family has contributed $111,750 to federal campaigns since 1983.

Other prominent contributors include the Fanjul family, four brothers of Cuban descent who control Palm Beach-based Flo-Sun Inc., one of the world’s largest sugar producers. Since 1989, the family has contributed just less than $900,000 in political donations.

Missing from the report, however, is Armando Codina, chairman of Coral Gables, FL-based Codina Group Inc., widely considered Florida’s largest commercial real estate services firm.

The Cuban-born Codina has maintained visible support over the years to the Bush family, especially to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a former business partner, and former President George H. Bush.

Just since 1997, the Codina family individually has contributed nearly $40,000 to federal campaigns, according to the Federal Elections commission.

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