As a South Asian, I have a particular contempt for Qatar. For years the nation-state has been the worst in the Persian Gulf region (and that is saying a lot) for exploiting people who look like me. Despite recent reforms the very least that could be forced by outside pressure, Qatar’s regime still practices what could be effectively seen as slavery or at the very least indentured servitude toward people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. As most folks reading this surely know, in Qatar, many migrant workers have died building stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The record is so bad, that despite working in soccer, as a South Asian I am STRONGLY considering skipping the World Cup, a move that would hurt me financially but morally I must at least consider.
Additionally, Qatar has a very regressive policy toward LGBTQ people and women. Also complicating things in south Florida, they’ve allegedly supported terrorist groups targeting Israel – though it must be said Qatar’s somewhat independent foreign policy when compared to other Gulf states put them closer to outright recognition of Israel in the 1990’s than any other Arab country at the time. But once Likud came to power, the relationship has been adversarial.
But for some reason, Qatar is a place select Florida Democrats don’t find problematic at all. That’s because according to The Miami Herald, Christian Ulvert, long a driving force behind the party’s candidates (and at one time the party itself) is the ring-leader of this as part of a lobbying team Qatar retains in the US.
Ulvert, while highly influential with Democratic elected officials, it should be noted holds no power within the FDP itself under Chairman Manny Diaz, something that was NOT the case under previous FDP Chairs. However, Ulvert still has more influence within the party, particularly in South Florida than any other operative. In fact, you could argue strongly, that he has more influence with certain high-ranking elected Democrats than the party itself has!
From The Herald Article:
Qatar is paying to play host to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who is visiting this week along with her 2020 campaign manager Christian Ulvert, who works for the Persian Gulf country as part of a U.S. lobbying team.Miami Herald May 24, 2022
The country is hosting soccer’s World Cup this year, drawing protests for its human-rights record for criminalizing same-sex relationships and alleged mistreatment of migrant workers. Qatar is governed by a ruling family, functioning as a monarchy.
Also on the trip, according to a list released by Levine Cava’s office: Miami-Dade commissioners Oliver Gilbert and Keon Hardemon; Miami city commissioners Alex Díaz de la Portilla and Christine King; Levine Cava chief of staff Johanna Cervone; and James McQueen, a former Hardemon top aide who is now head of Miami’s Overtown Community Redevelopment Agency.
Here are some Tweets from Mayor Levine-Cava’s visit, tweets that amount to propaganda for Qatar.
The issue of Qatar is a personal issue to me. In fact, so personal I am considering skipping this year’s FIFA World Cup (which as noted above will cost me financially) because as a South Asian, I cannot stomach promoting a nation that has exploited people who look like me in ways that are beyond comprehension. In addition, as noted above Qatar has a pretty scary record on LGBTQ+ rights.
It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to reconcile those who claim to support liberal causes in this state with advocacy of Qatar. I personally will not support any elected official that’s so closely tied to the propaganda efforts of that nation.
As for Ulvert, it’s past high-time for Democrats to stop associating with someone with the conflicts of interest he has. If you want to lobby, fine, then don’t run campaigns. If you want to campaign, fine, then don’t lobby. This has been an ongoing saga with operatives like him for many years and truthfully lobbying for interests within the state of Florida is one thing, but lobbying for a foreign government is a whole other thing, that I personally cannot reconcile with good governance or liberalism.