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City Of Miami To Build Patria Y Vida Condos, Sell Them At Cost

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City Commissioner Joe Carollo announced Monday that the city will develop a 104-unit condominium and sell off its units at cost. The city is seeking a builder for the project, dubbed Patria y Vida.

A rendering of the Patria y Vida condos to be built by the city of Miami.

Suarez said the project was spearheaded by Carollo, known for his outspokenness and strong ties to Miami's community of exiled Cubans. 

“Usually, we look for funds that we put in the hands of the private sector so that they are the ones who build affordable rental housing," Suarez said at a ceremony, according to Diario Las Americas. "Private developers bear all risk. In this case, we, the city, have taken more risk, but we are sure that we will obtain a better product for our residents at a better price." 

The condominium will be built at 1251 Southwest Seventh St. with one- and two-bedroom units. Suarez said on Twitter that there would be income restrictions for buyers. Sales contracts will have language preventing buyers from flipping the condos for huge profits. They will be allowed to sell their units, but only for slightly more than they paid, Diario Las Americas reports.

With proceeds from condo sales, the city could develop another such project, recoup costs, build another one and so on. Carollo said it could be a model for other cities.

"This is the first affordable homeownership project not only in the city of Miami but in the entire state of Florida," he said. 

Patria y Vida, which translates to "Homeland and Life," is a twist on the phrase "Patria o Muerte," or "Homeland or Death," which was a rallying cry for the Cuban Revolution. In 1959, Fidel Castro and a group of fighters overthrew a government that was seen as a corrupt tool of a capitalist system and promised equality and prosperity for the Cuban people under their new socialist system. They founded social programs and seized private property to be redistributed.  

Over the years, Castro became a dictator, dissent was punished, regular Cubans suffered and people soured on the ruling Communist Party government. This summer, a group of artists made a song called Patria y Vida, which became a rallying cry during street protests against the current regime. Miami, where many Cubans fled after Castro came to power, remains a stronghold of anti-Castro and anti-communist sentiment.

"Patria y Vida is the appropriate name for this condominium because it symbolizes the spirit of the Cuban people and is a cry for freedom," Suarez said. 

Some critical responses on Twitter suggested it is ironic for avowed anti-socialists like Suarez and Carollo to have the government develop housing, pointing out that Castro's government built tens of thousands of units for Cubans.