The city of Miami staggered into the 1980s.
Race riots left 18 dead, hundreds injured and rows of burned-out buildings. Tens of thousands of Cubans, serious criminals among them, came ashore in the Mariel boatlift. Cocaine unleashed an unprecedented level of carnage and fear.
Yet Miami still hummed with economic promise and a flourishing Latin culture. It felt right for 28-year-old Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife, Columba, and they moved there in January 1981, just as his father was sworn in as vice president alongside Ronald Reagan.
“I saw Miami in terms of business as a great opportunity for a younger person to get involved and prosper,” the tall, preppy Texas native said a couple of years later, already a player in the explosive real-estate business. “It’s not a corporate town; it’s an entrepreneurial town.”
It was also a place where Bush could strike out on his own.
Jeb Bush appears at a WIOD radio talk show in 1980. [Tim Chapman | Miami Herald]
“I don’t want to be…