The Refugee Behind Trump's 'Meltdown' Is Living the American Dream

An October Time Magazine cover features a familiar depiction of Donald Trump. But you probably don't know much about its creator, Edel Rodriguez, who nearly four decades ago was a refugee.


Rodriguez lived in Havana, Cuba until age 9, when in 1980, his family immigrated on the Mariel Boatlift to the United States. Like many Mariel refugees, Rodriguez's family settled in Miami, where his father started his own trucking business and pushed his son to excel in school. Rodriguez became a spelling-bee champ, earned top grades and received a scholarship to study at the University of Miami. 

Instead, Rodriguez enrolled in New York's Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he graduated in 1994. Soon after, the young designer joined Time magazine, becoming the youngest art director of Time's Canadian and Latin American editions at age 26. 

Before Trump, Rodriguez painted a wide variety of global icons from Che Guevara to Mao. His work was even used by the U.S. Postal Service, when he designed a stamp honoring Latino American culture, now on view at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

"I've been able to communicate with people in Japan, Egypt or Europe simply because we have an interest in a certain font or era of design history," Rodriguez told the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). "To some degree, design can bring people together."

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