Gustavo “Gus” Barreiro, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives remembered for his work with at-risk youth, has died, according to the Children’s Trust.
The news of Gus Barreiro’s death was reported on Twitter by Marc Caputo, a journalist for Politico, who attributed the news to friends of the former Republican lawmaker, who represented areas of Miami. The Children’s Trust, where Barreiro worked, then confirmed the news: “We are heartbroken to inform the entire Trust community that our dear colleague and friend Gus Barreiro, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and lifelong advocate for South Florida, passed away today. Our deepest condolences to his family. Rest in peace Gus.”
David Smiley, of the Miami Herald, confirmed, “Former state Rep. Gus Barreiro has passed away. Condolences to his friends, colleagues and family. We’re working on an obituary.” On Twitter, Barreiro described himself as a “Former State Representative. Public Policy/Community Engagement Liaison for the @childrenstrust.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gus Barreiro’s Cause of Death Was an Apparent Heart Attack, Reports Say
Barreiro’s cause of death was an apparent heart attack, Caputo wrote on Twitter. “Former FL Rep Gus Barreiro (R-Miami) died this morning of an apparent heart attack, friends say. He was 60,” he wrote.
“I remember Gus best for helping expose the truth & pushing reforms after a 14 y/o black kid, Martin Lee Anderson, died after he was beaten by boot camp guards in 2006,” he added.
“Saddened to hear of the passing of former Representative Gus Barreiro. Too many good folks leaving us too soon,” wrote one man in tribute on Twitter.
2. People Offered Tributes to Gus Barreiro, Remembering Him as a ‘Devoted Public Servant’
Twitter started to fill with tributes for the former politician. “Not many people who go out of their way to share breakfast with a stranger. One of the nice guys. RIP Gus Barreiro. Too young,” wrote one Miami man.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz wrote on Twitter: “My deepest condolences’ to the entire Barreiro family on the passing of Gustavo “Gus” Barreiro. Gus was not only an incredible person but also a very devoted public servant. My thoughts and prayers to the entire Barreiro family during this very difficult time.”
“Farewell Gus Barreiro, so many vulnerable and troubled kids benefitted from your leadership,” wrote another man on Twitter.
Commissioner Esteban Bovo wrote: “Saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend & former colleague, Gustavo “Gus” Barreiro. Gus’ work at the @childrenstrust made a significant impact on the lives of many children & families in #OurCounty. Viviana & I send our heartfelt condolences to the Barreiro family.”
3. Barreiro Was a Republican Consultant Who Studied Criminal Justice & Founded a Group Home for Delinquent Boys in College
According to his political biography, Barreiro lived in Miami Beach when he was a representative, and his occupation was listed as “consultant.”
He was a criminal justice major at Mt. Scenario College in Wisconsin who was born July 12, 1959 in Matanzas and moved to Florida in 1964. The biography lists him as Catholic and says his hobbies were golf, racquetball, and scuba diving.
The Florida House of Representatives lists his affiliations as “Dade Marine Institute Co-Director of Operations” and “The Artificial Reef Program and several environmental restoration projects.”
More recently, Barreiro is listed as Public Policy and Community Engagement Liaison for the Children’s Trust. His biography for Children’s Trust describes him as a “Cuban-born immigrant who came to the United States as a young boy and grew up in Miami, Gus Barreiro joined The Children’s Trust in 2015 as the public policy and community engagement liaison.”
The bio lauds his history of community service, saying, that, while still a college student, Barreiro “founded the Wisconsin Living Learning Center, a group youth home for adjudicated delinquent boys that served as a diversionary program from the criminal justice system. With a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice, Mr. Barreiro remained in Wisconsin after graduation to continue operating the program – which became a model for the state – for nine years.”
4. Barreiro Was Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1998
Barreiro first took office in 1998. He represented the 107th District.
According to the Children’s Trust biography, Barreiro returned to Miami to run for the Florida House of Representatives, “ultimately serving in the Florida legislature from 1998 to 2006, representing the 107th district.”
During his legislative tenure, the bio says, “he chaired the special committee on the death of Omar Paisley and Martin Lee Anderson, both young boys who tragically died in state custody and boot camp programs.”
In 2018, he ran for the position of District 8 member of the Miami-Dade County Commission but lost in a primary, Ballotpedia reports.
As a politician, The New Times described Barreiro as “something of a Libertarian-Republican” who was “pro-NRA and anti-abortion” but was “progressive on LGBTQ issues and believed in lowering incarceration rates in the state prison system.”
5. Barreiro Faced Scandal Throughout His Career
The Miami New Times called the Barreiro family a “a multidecade political dynasty in Miami” because Gus Barreiro’s half-brother Bruno is a former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and his sister-in-law has also tried her hat at politics.
The New Times reported that Gus Barreiro was once fired from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in 2009 “for using a government laptop to watch a bunch of pornography.”
In 2018, Gus Barreiro told the New Times that he was “set up” by “foes inside the department who were upset he’d exposed a group of unmarked child graves dug by the state at a reform school decades earlier.” He claimed that someone had “taken over” his desktop and searched for porn.