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KARLA Hernandez-Mats was big news this week in Florida. For better and for worse. The Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, former Republican and former Independent Charlie Crist, announced that the president of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) —the largest teachers union in the southeastern part of the US— will be his running mate to try to take the governorship away from Republican Ron DeSantis. Not hours after the announcement, Hernandez-Mats’ dirty laundry started coming out on Twitter, including her controversial record against Florida parents.
First a controversial tweet by Hernandez-Mats where she seems to highlight the legacy of tyrant Fidel Castro, just on the day of his death.
“A political figure dies at 90. Most in Miami rejoice, many in Cuba mourn #FidelCastro,” Hernandez-Mats wrote on November 26, 2016. Criticism was quick to follow. The UTD president was accused of defending a dictator, and they also ironized with the Crist campaign’s decision to name her as running mate.
However, Hernandez-Mats’ record is not limited to honoring the work of dictators but also to fighting Florida parents who protested during the pandemic about mask mandates and school closings, among other things —policies supported and pushed by Crist’s new running mate.
In the wake of these two controversial posts, El American took a closer look at Twitter, including UTD’s official account. It found interactions linking this union chaired by Hernandez-Mats to a controversial Twitter profile accused of doxing Florida parents.
Miami Against Fascism and United Teachers of Dade
The Miami Against Fascism account (@MIAagainstFash) is a profile created in July 2021, when parents in the Miami community opposed mandates and school closures as teachers’ unions attempted to enforce them. Since then, Miami Against Fascism has been actively operating to expose the identity and defame parents on social media, a move labeled as doxing by the account’s many critics.
Although it may seem small and insignificant on Twitter —it has just over 7,500 followers, and a large handful of its posts have few interactions— the account has had a strong media impact. It has been cited by liberal media outlets such as the Miami Herald, The Miami New Times, and The New York Times.
With this controversial profile, the official UTD account had one interaction on August 19, 2021, during the presidency of Karla Hernández-Mats.
The tweet says, somewhat ironically, “Say hello to the ‘parents'” —implying that all the people who went to demonstrate against the vaccination and mask mandates were not parents concerned about their children.
The thread cited by UTD and posted by Miami Against Fascism is the typical content of the account accused of doxing parents. It features photos of a handful of people the account accuses of allegedly being “far-right,” “conspiracy theorists,” and members of the Proud Boys organization in an attempt to discredit the anti-teacher union protests and mandates.
A Twitter search shows how Miami Against Fascism has worked to publicize information about Florida parents who protested UTD over the past year. For example, the group Moms for Liberty, an organization of mothers who opposed the mandates and school closures, was repeatedly accused of being comprised of “far-right extremists.”
BREAKING – @MDCPS school board gave in to far-right coalition of far-right extremists of Moms for Liberty, Proud Boys, Christian nationalists and QAnons in a narrow 5-4 vote to ban sex-ed curriculum.
M4L members openly disrupted the meeting and one arrest. Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/8eP0CwQQpT
— Miami Against Fascism 🌴☕️ (@MIAagainstFash) July 21, 2022
Indeed, “far-right” seems to be one of the words most used by Miami Against Fascism, as it was the term used by the account to attack people linked to the conservative world, such as Christina Pushaw, Congresswoman Mayra Flores, or activist Alex Otaola. Likewise, it has also accused personalities such as writer Christopher F. Rufo, an activist who opposes the teaching of controversial woke material in schools, of being “fascists.”
UTD’s profile has also boosted its president’s image, not only as the leader of the largest teachers’ union in the Southeast but also now as the running mate of the Democratic candidate for governor, making the interaction with Miami Against Fascism relevant.
UTD proudly endorsed & stood by Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall in her re-election campaign. She has been a fighter & tireless supporter of children & our education system for years. It comes as no surprise her constituents voted to keep her as their representative. pic.twitter.com/j88oAMFgdt
— United Teachers of Dade (@UTD_AFT1974) August 24, 2022
Also, it is telling that both UTD and Hernandez-Mats have adopted an attitude toward Florida parents very similar to the Miami Against Fascism account, criticizing Floridian parents who opposed the mandates and closures.
For example, on July 20, 2021, the official UTD account said that people protesting school closures and mandates were either not parents or “don’t even have children.”
“They are soldiers of faux rage, false narratives, and political interests that want to create chaos and keep their base fired up with boogeymen and conspiracy theories,” the union on Twitter. A message is quite similar to the narrative pushed by Miami Against Fascism.
Except those aren’t parents. In fact, many of them dont even have children. They are soldiers of faux rage, false narratives, and political interests that want to create chaos and keep their base fired up with boogey men and conspiracy theories. #fakenews
— United Teachers of Dade (@UTD_AFT1974) July 20, 2021
The feud between UTD, Hernandez-Mats and Florida parents escalated so much that even Crist’s now running mate compared those attending the school meetings to horror movie characters; especially fantasy killers like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees.
— Karla Hernández (@KarlaforFlorida) October 22, 2021
A personal friend of Hernandez-Mats behind Miami Against Fascism?
In an earlier, much more detailed report published in June, El American reported on the disclosure of the alleged identity of the administrators behind Miami Against Fascism.
As reported by another anonymous account (@xposingMAF), now suspended, those behind Miami Against Fascism are allegedly Democrats Jenny Lee Molina and Sonia Diaz, marketing and public relations specialists in Florida.
While @xposingMAF was suspended from Twitter, their complaint was recorded on their website. There are some links and similarities between publications and accounts of different social media that would account for the alleged identity of the people who run Miami Against Fascism.
“It’s been a year since the inception of @MIAagainstFash. An account created to harass, dox, slander and intimidate parents and conservatives of Miami Dade. This thread will expose Miami PR powerhouses @soniavdiaz and @jennyleeisme as the page operators” — the @xposingMAF website reads.
“Big mistake was when @jennyleeisme bled her precious 3:05 cafecito branding on to the MAF page. A brand she is obsessively possessive about. Going as far as weaponizing her connections with the @MiamiNewTimes to cancel @CafeBustelo for using the 3 :05 brand without her consent” —the account reveals as one of the alleged connections, accompanied by a collage of images.
Despite that a month has passed, @xposingMAF’s allegation that Jenny Lee Molina and Sonia Diaz are the administrators of Miami Against Fascism has not yet been either confirmed or publicly denied by the Democratic activists.
The allegation gains relevance because it turns out that Sonia Diaz and Karla Hernandez-Mats have worked together – Diaz was a spokesperson for UTD – and are also, according to social media posts, close friends.
“#HAPPYBIRTHDAY to my friend, mentor, sister, inspiration, and warrior @KarlaMats
. The world is infinitely a better place because you are in it. I hate that we can’t celebrate today the way we wanted to, but soon enough, we will!! Love you!,” says the heartfelt message from Diaz to Hernandez-Mats.
El American contacted Karla Hernández-Mats to ask her about her involvement and responsibility in the publications of UTD’s official account. She was also asked about her opinion on the content published in Miami Against Fascism and whether she endorsed the work of that profile. At the time of publishing this article, we had not received a response.
El American reached out to Crist campaign managers to inquire about Hernandez-Mats’ connections to the Miami Against Fascism account. At the time of publishing this story, we have not heard back.
At best, the link between Charlie Crist’s running mate and Miami Against Fascism is limited to direct interaction and amplification on Twitter of the official UTD account.
At worst, if Hernandez-Mats is directly responsible for the UTD accounts postings, Crist’s running mate would have directly endorsed an account accused of doxing parents in the state she wants to co-lead.
Despite Twitter showing direct interactions between UTD and Miami Against Fascism, and that one of the alleged administrators is a friend of Hernandez-Mats, Miami Against Fascism told a user that there is a conspiracy to link Crist’s running mate to her Twitter profile.
It was announced today that she will be Crist’s running mate, so that’s driving their push to attack her.
And of course part of the ongoing conspiracy junk promoted by local Miami far-right is that out account is connected to these figures. Lol. https://t.co/w1WWwKbnYA
— Miami Against Fascism 🌴☕️ (@MIAagainstFash) August 27, 2022
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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