We should cheer Mitt Romney for believing in second chances, because on Monday the presidential candidate held an event in Miami with a convicted cocaine trafficker. Romney didn't just shake hands with an ex-con who's made good, he gave a speech, filmed an ad, and handed out juice at the Cuban restaurant, El Palacio de los Jugos, which is owned by Reinaldo Bermudez. Bermudez, aka "El Guajiro," pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1999, the Miami New Times' Francisco Alvarado reports. Bermudez went to federal prison for three years. Romney's event wasn't an accident -- the Secret Service knew about the conviction. Bermudez told the New Times, "They absolutely knew about my record… The Secret Service checked everything. [The conviction] was not a problem. Everybody deserves a second chance."
Bermudez was 38 when he was part of a 12-person conspiracy to smuggle 248 kilos of drugs in containers of fish imported from Trinidad plus 1,045 kilos in a container of soap from Venezuela. Today, he owns a successful business. On Yelp, El Palacio de los Jugos gets four out of five stars, with most reviewers giving it five stars. Romney is right to celebrate people who've paid their debt to society and become productive members of it. He should just go one step further and change his position on felons' voting rights.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.