Empathy in a Book: “Echando Raices”


The book is called “Echando Raices” (Growing Roots). A book by Carlos Arturo Rivera, a man who has dedicated more than 3,000 hours of community service while living in the United States. River says it is something that we must all try to do to contribute to this country.

Carlos Arturo Rivera is only one of many examples of the amazing immigrants who contribute to this country.   As if his dedication to helping others were not enough, he decided to write this book that shares stories of those who come here for better life. He talks about attorneys cleaning houses and doctors working in factories.  This book is a mix between the realities he had seen others experience and his own twist to the stories that can bring a tear or two.  Most importantly, it reminds us of the millions  of immigrants who come to the United States for a better life and who contribute to this nation.  It makes their struggles come alive.  It recognizes those who had a story before they arrived and weaves them into our society.

You can find “Echando Raices” on Amazon, or call Carlos Arturo and have a coffee with him, buy his book and know that you are sure to have a new friend.  His teléfono:  (954) 696-8395

Finally Out Of My Writer’s Block, And I Have 10 Tips


By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

It has been a while since I have written in Political Pasión, and I apologize. Like many of my colleagues, I went through a period of writer’s block. Possibly because I had so much to say, I had so much feeling based on the political atmosphere, that I had no words.  
Now I do. And I have a message for you. We need to wake up. As someone who has been in government and politics for the last fifteen years, I must admit that I have never seen what I am seeing today. I am not naive to what exists in the political world. However, I believe that technology has made us aware of how things really are. Either for personal interests or for the fact that many are tired of levels of corruption that politics has blanketed itself with, we are seeing the real face of politics. This face can not have makeover as it will continue to be ugly underneath. However, with the rights nutrients and care, it can improve.  

Here are some tips that I would like to give you, in order to change what is currently happening in the current world and to give the political world some nutrients to its ugly face:

1. Don’t believe everything you read. A journalism professor at the University of South Florida taught me something important. In order to know the truth, look at all sides of the story given and come to your own conclusions. Do not stick to one media source, but hear all sides.

2. Many politicians are looking for the interest of their parties. Look at what they say, and see what they do. We need to hold our representatives accountable. They are our voice, and we have the power to keep them in, or have them step down.

3. Strategists and political consultants have become more about the money vs. the principle. If you hire a strategist, look at their values. See if they believe in you. And in turn, remember, if you run for office…this is not about you. It is about making a difference in the lives of the people who elected you.

4. We live in beautiful nations where most have different societies and cultures. Learn from these cultures versus fearing them. Most fear is based on what you don’t know. To understand, you must engage and learn.

5. You can not win an election without listening. I find it amusing how most shots of candidates are based on them talking. It says a lot. In order to understand and represent others, we must learn to listen to all sides. There is a story, a pain, a reason for everything.

6. Never, ever assume you are going to win.  

7. Do not sell your soul. When someone asks you to write a story about them, don’t. We need to place ethics before recognition, money and power.

8. Campaigns have come to a low point. When people go low, expose them. Do not go to their level.

9. Do not swear. It seems that after the 2016 presidential elections, we have opened the door to speak without filters. You represent your organization, and if you swear, it makes the entire organization lose respect. This goes directly to Tom Perez and Donald Trump. I am not sure if a new poll came out that says people like this. In my view, it only makes me think we are in a close proximity to the movie “Idiocracy”

10. Remember that the ultimate goal in politics is to work for the common good. Reach out to your fellow colleagues, because at the end, they were elected by us, the people.

May this be the beginning of more insights.  I hope this moves something in you, as it did in me.  Are you ready for a real makeover?

As the world is watching a close election, Hillary Clinton should say: “Gracias, Sr. Trump”

clinton

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Strategists on both sides of their political machines are going crazy—some of them secretly kicking their behind for the many years that they have said that Hispanics do not vote.  The years I heard: “Do not pay attention to them, do not do anything to attract them.  It is useless, they do not vote.” Some of those “politico aficionados” will pay the price for this.   According to Florida Election Voter Stats Guru, Dan Smith, Hispanic turnout in Florida is exceeding their voter turnout at this same time in 2012.

Latinos will be a key factor

The final voter registration numbers in Florida found on the Florida Division of Elections website show that there are 501,344 Hispanic Republicans, 737,589 Hispanic Democrats and 634,236 Hispanics with No Party Affiliation (Independents), which I like to call: the persuadables.  One candidate who will be affected is Florida U.S. Senate Candidate, Patrick Murphy who just started his Spanish ads a month ago.  It was suggested to him a year ago on how important the Latino vote was in this election.

Democrats may plan to make the  Puerto Rican “Coqui” Frog their national mascot

Going back to Clinton, According to stats found by Politico’s Marc Caputo, the Democratic presidential nominee has a 60 percent to 30 percent advantage over Trump with Florida Hispanics.  Thankful to the Boricua’s she must be!  Without Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes the presidential candidates can say good-bye to the “Casa Blanca” (White House).  Also, due to the Cuban-American conservative vote, her favorability numbers with Hispanics are lower here Than in other states.  The increase of Latino voters who are casting votes, is the moment where Hillary Clinton must thank the man that made this happen for her and say: “Gracias, Sr. Trump.”  An increase in Hispanics voting is based on the fear many Hispanics have that Trump be the next president.  It is a daily conversation and it is seen in the polls.

Democrats must be saying “Gracias a Dios” (Thank God) it was not Bilingual Marco Rubio as the many emails that WikiLeaks unveiled showed Democrats feared him as a presidential candidate, which was clear when Clinton named Rubio, and not the other 16 candidates in the beginning of the race.  Or possibly a candidate like Jeb Bush, with the right intentions, and his mother Barbara Bush who is loved by America and who says that she cannot understand how any woman could vote for Donald Trump.  At the end of the day, the election may be so close, I believe it will be decided by women and Independents.

TV Reality o Telenovelas?

However, we must analyze that when the average American watches 6-8 hours of television a day, didn’t we get what we wanted?  It was the charismatic man who has spent the entire election making us laugh, to then become concerned as others felt they were finally part of something.  Then we felt that we entered the Twilight Zone.  Then came the acceptance that our country would possibly be lead by a TV Reality Star and a man that in France they would see as “Le Americaine” who talks to them in English and asks them where there is a McDonalds, or a KFC in Paris.  Then all your friends in other countries who are constantly watching say to you that America is finally like the movie Idiocracy.  

trump-kfc

Lloro Por Ti, Republicano (I cry for you Republican)

My heart goes out to all of my Republican friends who cry themselves at night, as they see this beautiful dream of what a small government America would be with support for small businesses, as it gets trampled by talks about female parts and small hands. For those who wore the Reagan shirts with pride.  For those who have Abraham Lincon mugs that say: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”  I suggest that it is time to change those mugs this year to when Lincoln said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  A lesson that our demographics will not change, and different cultural communities must be included and feel invited within the GOP.  According to the pollsters of Latino Decisions, 44% of Hispanics feel that the GOP is more hostile to them than the 22% that felt the same in 2012.  I believe all hope is not lost as we see a younger generations of Republicans being more lenient on LGBT issues or becoming more moderate.  If they can convince enough Republicans and Independents, they will be ok.

Some still have hope, as some intelligent fervent Hispanic Republicans will still vote for Trump, because for them there are higher points at stake like the security of this country, the Supreme Court Justice choices, their fear of “pay for play” in the White House, or they just really, REALLY dislike Hillary Clinton.  But there are other Republicans who are in the limelight, with mothers, wives, and daughters who must step aside or they will also be secretly punished in the ballot box by the women who vote more than men since 1980.

The Positives

As we look at the positives, we have been working for years for the 27 million Latinos who are eligible to vote to wake up.  This is the first year that those Latinos who told me that they did not care about politics, are in line to vote, to make a statement.  They send their pictures and they take their friends who did not want to vote.  It has opened the eyes of Muslim American communities who are targeted and hated as they pay the price for the work of the extremists in their religion.  Or the Asian-Americans who have suffered by the lack of educations of culture.  They have decided to come out.  To the Black vote that finally saw victory in 2008 with an African-American President becoming the leader of the United States of America, and know that racism is alive and must vote against it.  To the many White Anglo Saxons like my 70 year old father from Kentucky who has never asked me about politics, and questions the current rhetoric as he says to me: “But we are country of immigrants, we all come from everywhere.” For the women who have had to accept to be called a “minority” when females are 51% of the U.S. population and vote in higher numbers?  To the Republicans who are ashamed of what their party has become.  For all these different minority groups, vengeance is sweet, and it comes in the form of a secret ballot, which I believe will be the “adios” factor for Donald Trump.

Processed, not digested

Senior writer for Politico Magazine, Michael Grunwald recently quoted a millennial in South Florida who said he was undecided about who to vote for. His quote could describe something key felt by undecided eligible voters in America, but still not digested: “Adrian described the general election as choice between a woman who embodies everything wrong with politics and a man who embodies everything wrong with humanity.” This mass sentiment and voter turnout is showing the way.  Sorry, Mr.Trump, but these factors show you  will have to concede as you give a bow and end your performance.

As the world watches, the current momentum shows that Hillary Clinton will become the 45th and first female president of the most influential country in the world. It will not be easy.  It will be very tough after the damage this election has caused on America.   But key votes in key states point to her, no matter if we like it or not, and she has Donald Trump to thank.  Unless something completely unexpected happens in the next days that makes the white vote go vote in masses on Election Day, many minorities will wish they had voted as America elects Donald Trump.

Check out what JJ Rendon, a recognized political strategist in Latin America said in 2014 about Donald Trump:

Can it still happen?  In this election, we have learned that anything is possible.  Go out and vote, if not, someone will vote for you.  Do not take it for granted.

In Unity There Is Strength

image

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

when I started http://www.politicalpasion.com in 2014, it was a place where I could contribute to help people understand the misconceptions that many had about Hispanics/Latinos.

Recently the Pew Hispanic Center released information stating that six-in-ten Republicans and two-in-ten Democrats view Latin American immigrants’ impact on the U.S. negatively.   The issue is that the anger that is felt for Latinos and other immigrants is based on a culture that many can not understand.   They feel angry, and they say that anger is based out of fear, and fear is based on what we do not understand.

I recently was reading a book my mentor who passed away in December had in her library collection.  The book was published in 1971 and was called “The Ethnic Factor”. I found it amusing that chapter three was called: “Chicanos and Puerto Ricans: If They Vote, They Count”.  Not a very different statement from the presidential election of 2016, and how many strategists are counting on their turnout.  The difference is that in 1971, Latinos or how the book calls them “Spanish-Americans” were only 4.5 percent (9.2 million) of the total population.  In addition to the Cuban-Americans lightly mentioned in the book.

The book also made me realize how time has shown what happens when a Latin American community such as Cuban-Americans become involved in politics, contribute to campaigns and prepare their own to run for office.  If only every Latino community did the same.  Yet, the reason why we as Hispanics/Latinos do not count, is because many of us do not care to.  Reading this book made me realize that nothing has changed in almost 50 years.  We are just more, still asleep and not realizing the power we have through our vote, through taking peaceful action, through creating a movement that allows people to understand who we are as individuals of Latino/Hispanic descent.Most importantly, I believe it is time that we show our love for the country that has taken us in.

It has been such an honor to see what writing and uniting has created.  This blog has opened the door to meet so many valuable people.  It has opened the eyes to people in government.  It has also made some show their true colors.  It has been a good step forward, and the step was only based on my writings.

There have been times I have been asked by various candidates to write something about them on this blog  favoring them, and that I would get paid for it.  I never accepted it.  Because I feel that this blog should be a channel for sincerity.  The moment, we change this channel, the energy changes.

I have come to the conclusion that there are many people like me, who have something to say.  This blog should also be a channel for people to see our differences and our similarities. Most importantly, it should be a place for those who can give a piece of who are, and give it as an offering to the Statue of Liberty, as we remind others that we are all immigrants.

I have always considered myself a Probono blogger and never want this to be a site where anyone who writes gets paid to say what they think.  With that condition in mind, I would like to open http://www.politicalpasion.com to anyone who wants to share a piece of them with the following in mind: an article, poem, a video, an animation, a drawing, a song, etc…  Anything that will help people understand our Latino/Hispanic culture more or elections, politics or engagement more. If you are interested in taking part, please send your “contribution to society” to politicalpasion@outlook.com

I hope that as we open this door, we may create more understanding and more consciousness in our world.

image.jpeg

May we remember the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus  that is graven on the tablet, on the pedestal where the Statue of Liberty stands:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As one of my teachers said, the current political movie is now playing.  We now should prepare for its outcome.

Only in unity there is strength.

-Evelyn

 

Political Fanatics

Fanatic

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

“Extremes to the right and to the left of any political dispute are always wrong.”

― Dwight D. Eisenhower

I believe one of the topics most Latin Americans relate to is soccer. They may not take time off to go and vote, but when the World Cup happens, rest assured that you will see an increase of sick and paid leave in the Hispanic population.

It is so embedded in us that in 2007, my friend Angelette and I did a commercial to teach Hispanics about the new voting machines that would start being used at election offices around Florida.  We used soccer to make our point:

Futbol: New Form of Voting

Yet, as I think about it more, I realize how much the two major political parties have become like soccer.  I think of the blow in the last World Cup that “my soccer team” Colombia gave to Neymar, the best player of the Brazil team, who suffered from a broken vertebra when he was hit by someone from my team. Colombia had never been so close to winning the World Cup.  I remember being in a place with so many Colombians and all of them shouting in joy as Neymar was on the floor filled with pain.  Neymar was not a human from planet earth like all of us–Neymar was the enemy.  Brazil was wrong, Colombia was right.  Neymar “deserved” to be hurt.  In soccer, when it comes to your team, you become so blind because you want to win, that you become a fanatic.  The penalties against your team are always incorrect.  You stick by their side till the end.  You celebrate with them when they win, and cry with them when you lose.

Democrats and Republicans have gotten to the point where many have become “soccer fanatics”.  The majority are not willing to listen to the other point of view.  Parties come first before the principle, where all that matters is winning the election, and special interests overtrumps the wishes of the people they represent.

I have been an Independent since 2010.  I used to be a Democrat.  I never had the courage to sign a form that said that no matter what, I always had to support and vote for a Democrat in the elections.  The man or woman could be incompetent, yet I needed to support them because they were Democrats?  No, thank you.  I have been offered to become a Republican and even become appointed to a Governor’s board if I decided to do so.  No, thank you.  No one can buy me.  Because I am not a fanatic, and I also do not want to become one in the near future.  I believe there a many Republicans and Democrats that are also not fanatics, overshadowed by the extremists of their party.  Possible extremists because it is no longer about us, it is about power, it is about ego, and it is about winning.  When this changes, our nation will improve.  When we have more members of Congress trying to work with both sides, our nation will change.  Yet, as Americans we tend to forget history.  A history where 20 years ago, we may not have been in agreement with everything of the opposing party, but we came to a consensus for the betterment of the people.  For the sake of the “American Team”.

Maybe that is why I am independent, too cynical to believe that either party has all the answers, and too optimistic to not get involved in the political process.  Maybe that is the reason why 45% percent of all Americans currently self identify as independents.  The last time this happened was 70 years ago.  70 years ago, we were in World War II.  Should I say more?

Venezuelan-American In Doral Asks His City Council To Break Ties With Trump

Carlos Pereira By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Carlos Pereira, a Venezuelan-American who lives in Doral, Florida and also is involved in politics in Miami has sent a letter to The
Doral City Council asking them to break all ties with Donald Trump, and to ask Trump to return the keys of the city due to his generalized racist remarks  toward the Mexican community of the United States. Trump called them rapists and drug dealers.  Pereira had already sent a letter to Mayor Boria and did not receive a response.

Here is Carlos Pereira’s letter:

Dear Members of the Doral City Council:

Not having received a response to my letter regarding our relationship with Donald Trump that I wrote to our distinguished Mayor and with copies sent to all of you, I want this letter to express my disappointment and concern at the “intellectual cowardice” in the city of Doral.

I wish to inform you that I keep getting calls from neighbors and friends outraged by nothing being done to change our relationship with Donald Trump. I want to alert you that the majority of the residents of this City are greatly affected. As an example, I quote from a letter about a poem by Martin Niemoller that I received from a neighbor:

First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

This poem is frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

(And now they are coming for the Mexicans and you are saying nothing) Carlos Pereira.

The famous author and Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke wrote the following thoughts with which we can all totally agree:

  • The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
  • All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
  • Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.

With respect to the relationship of the city of Doral and Donald Trump, the promotion of hatred is a moral corruption. Thus in the city of Doral we do not need or want the benefits of Mr. Trump’s racism. That is why I am sending each of you this plea that the city of Doral has to break our relationship with Donald Trump by withdrawing the key to the city and declaring him persona non grata.

-Carlos Pereira

Boria Trump

Mayor Boria with Donald Trump

In an interview with the Miami paper Diario de las Americas, Boria said the following:  “I do not regret giving him the distinction of the Key of the City…it is like if we made reference to a sports champion who won a medal, and months later this athlete becomes insane.  We can’t ask him to return this distinction.” Boria also placed two statements on his Facebook page showing his disagreement with Trump’s words.

Yet, Mr Pereira thinks it is not enough.  “Today, we are all Mexicans.  What Trump is promoting is called hate, and this is morally corrupt.  As Latinamericans, we can not permit this hate toward the Mexican population”, said Pereira to Political Pasion.   Mr. Pereira is heavily involved with the Democratic Party.  Regardless of his party affiliation, would we not think that a constituent of the City of Doral needs to receive a response for his or her concerns?

The Political Power of Mr. 305

PitbullBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

I sometimes drive through Little Havana, which in my view is one of the most enchanting neighborhoods in Miami to go through during the night.  You look inside one barber shop, and all the men are getting their hair cut as they are covered with smocks with the Cuban flag.  Men are playing dominos in a park surrounded by murals.

There was once a little boy who lived in this neighborhood and who possibly every day took a glimpse east toward a powerful downtown Miami while he had nothing in his pockets.  Born in 1981, the little boy grew up in the midst of drugs, neglect, and corruption in the ghetto known as “la Pequeña Habana”.  At 3 he could recite the poems of Jose Marti, Cuba’s national hero.  He grew up in rough circumstances, in a time where so many had so much dislike for the influx of Hispanics that had arrived to Florida.  What is so amazing is that those same conditions were what gave him the power to overcome fear and try to take all of his pain out through the spoken-word known as rapping.

That little boy was named Armando Christian Perez, the son of Cuban expatriates, born from a Peter Pan Mother and a Mariel Boat Father.  Destiny picked Armando, a powerful man now known to the world as Pitbull to overcome it all and become the skin and bones of the “American Dream”.

Pitbull and Politics

Pitbull started getting a name for himself, stopped dealing drugs and started building a relationship with his father that ended short due to a cancer diagnosis.  His father passed away in 2006.  According to an article from MTV: “From then, his father’s memory and his Cuban pride fueled Pit’s career. That year, Pitbull and a host of artists recorded a Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem which even caught the radar of President George W. Bush and allowed Pit to speak out on behalf of Latino immigrants.”

In 2012 Pitbull appeared at an Obama Rally where he gave a speech sharing the fact that it does not matter what color of skin we have, we must be united and moved forward.  See video here: Pitbulls speech at Obama event, source EFE:

In 2014, Pitbull tweeted a picture of him to his 19.3 million followers at a fundraiser for Florida Governor Rick Scott a week before Scott’s re-election campaign for Governor.  Pitbull wrote: “Proud to meet and discuss Florida’s future with Governor @scottforflorida LG @lopezcantera and Rep @ErikFresenFL

Focusing on the Unknown

Now, due to not showing his affiliation to one party, Republican and Democrats are going crazy trying to figure out who Pitbull is going to support in 2016.  With presidential elections coming around the corner, the influence of the Hispanic vote is key in winning the White House.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2012 presidential election, more Hispanics voted in Florida than in any other state in the nation.  Latinos came out to vote by 62%, while the average Hispanic turnout for the rest of the United States was 49%. Florida Hispanics even beat California where the turnout was 48.5% and Texas where it was 38.8%…all states with high Electoral College votes.

Danny Alvarez, a Republican and former Tampa Bay Political Director for the Rick Scott Florida Gubernatorial Campaign, thinks that the targeting of Pitbull as a surrogate is genius. “Whoever thought of it should get a big pat on the back. We are not in the day and age where one message fits all and Pitbull appeals to a very broad range of targets that we are trying to reach as far as politics and government is concerned.”

Fighting for NPAs

So, the question is, if both parties are fighting for Pitbull who is registered as ‘No Party Affiliation’ according to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections, shouldn’t both political parties fight for NPA’s in the same manner?  In Florida there are approximately 600,000 NPA Hispanics registered to vote—a little less than Democrats and more than Republicans. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 51% of Hispanics identify as NPA in the United States.  However, once they are questioned further, their leanings show that most affiliate with the Democratic Party (52%) and this is consistent across generations.  However, 23% identify with the Republican Party and Hispanics with longer connections to the United States are more likely to be Republicans.

In politics, there is a division of thought on how important NPA’s are to an election. There are two schools of thought, one which believes that they are important and the other who thinks the opposite. Some Hispanic organizations are encouraging Hispanics to register as NPA since they believe that this will be the only way that political parties will not take Hispanic voters for granted.  According to Dr. Daniel Smith, professor of political science at the University of Florida, more Hispanic youth are now registering as NPA.  However he is not convinced that being NPA is the way to go when we live in a nation with a two-party system. When asked about Pitbull being NPA he states: “People in politics are not targeting Pitbull because he is NPA, they are targeting him because he is Pitbull.”

However, others think that Pitbull being NPA is a great example of why the Hispanic independent vote should not be taken for granted:

Angelette Aviles, a Republican and former political consultant thinks that both parties need to focus their energy on NPA’s. “What is so odd is that political parties do not tend to target NPAs until 3 months before the General Election.  One reason is because they consider them a waste of time being that they cannot vote in the Primary Election.” However, she believes that it is important to target them way before the Primaries.  “Like my husband, I see many Hispanics are in the middle when it comes to issues.  One day their main concerns are based on fiscal issues but the next it could be about education, or for some they may vote on a candidate who can better relate to minorities.”  Angelette’s husband recently changed his party affiliation to NPA.

Luisana Gonzalez is a 24 year old Venezuelan-American who lives in Weston, Florida and who holds a degree in International Relations from Florida State University.  Luisana is registered NPA and believes political parties should not forget about people like her. “NPA’s are more objective in their decisions.  I vote on the leader and their vision, I focus on the candidate’s policies and who the leader is, and not based on the stereotype placed by a political party,” she says.

Looking a little deeper

Most individuals interviewed all came to the same conclusion: whoever gets Pitbull, gets a great portion of the Hispanic youth vote.

However, Christian Leon, a Democrat and Political Creative Strategist says that this mentality from the parties is too general:  “Hispanics are so diverse and you are trying to find something that unites them. Everyone’s is gravitating to Pitbull because he is the common denominator that they believe all Latinos know. It shows the hunger of the parties. It also shows the lack of knowledge or leadership of the community.  What leaders are they going to turn to that appeal to Hispanics?  What person can most Hispanics relate to except for maybe the pope? If Pitbull wants to be neutral, the best thing he can do for the Latino community is write a song encouraging Latinos to vote.”

More than being neutral, it seems Pitbull has a bigger responsibility at hand.  Being an example to Hispanics, by not only talking the talk, but walking the walk.  According to his voting records, he registered to vote 5 months after turning 18.  However, from his voting history starting in 2008, the only election he has voted in is the 2008 General Election and Presidential Preferential Primary.

Maybe the next step for Pitbull is to teach the Latinos who hold our future that Politicos need to fight for their vote just as they are fighting for his.  The step is to vote himself and possibly go back to the campaign that changed the mentality of so many Hispanics living in Miami in the 80’s: “Vota para que te respeten” which means in English: Vote so that you are respected.

However, I think Pitbull knows that it is in his power to do much more than this.  He has proved he wants to see change focusing on a group of Hispanics and other minorities that we tend to forget about and who will be unstoppable in years to come.  His students at his charter middle and high school Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM), which he helped build in the same little neighborhood (Little Havana) where he lived and lacked what these children have now gained: An avenue to not get involved in drugs, receive attention, and be given the tools to become individuals that will be the leaders of tomorrow.  He needs to start voting and teach these kids the importance of voting.

The moment of truth

Republicans and Democrats should not only be fighting for Pitbull’s approval, they both should be focusing on all Hispanics and especially NPA’s or what we call political independents.

Armando Perez’ name represents Latinos who could sway either way.  The name Pitbull represents the power of Latinos and the power that we can have in politics, if we become vocal and vote.  2016 is on its way. Make a wise choice Mr. Worldwide. Like C.S. Lewis said: “There are far far better things than any we leave behind.” It’s time to start voting.  All politico eyes on you—keeping the rapping aside.

Weighing In: The Florida Hispanic Approach of Democrats and Republicans

Donkey and Elephant on scalesBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

There is just a 66,000 vote difference between Crist and Scott in the 2014 Florida Gubernatorial Race.  With over 1,700,000 registered voters in Florida, I still stand my ground that the Hispanic Vote could have selected the governor of this race.  I am anxious to get the recap totals from election offices around Florida in reference to the Hispanic vote.

Charlie Crist and the Hispanic Vote

One of the reasons the Crist campaign lost is due to the lack of initiative with Hispanics and the Spanish language media until too late in the game.  Once Annette Taddeo, former Chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party became the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor on July 17, 2014 things dramatically changed within the campaign.  Before Taddeo arrived, the media en Español all over the state complained that they were not able to get in touch with anyone from the Crist camp.

Crist was losing the Hispanic Vote.  Annette Taddeo knew the importance of this and a week later they had hired Sheyla Asencios as Hispanic Communications Director for Crist.   A little after that, there were so many inquiries that they had to hire another woman named Gricel Gonzalez to handle Spanish language media in South Florida.  You constantly heard Annette sending the message, being on interviews, on commercials, on the radio, in print and in both languages.  On one occasion she had to deal with individuals from the opposite party calling her a prostitute and telling her to go back from the country she came from when she was with her 8 year old daughter at a rally.  In the same rally, she was the better person as she hugged Carlos Lopez-Cantera.  She was a force to be reckoned with.  It was the strength that the party needed and that I believe made a difference in the closeness of voter turnout between Crist and Scott.  If the same plan would have taken place as soon as Crist announced his run for governor in November 2013, he would possibly be Florida’s next governor.  On the other hand, Rick Scott began his Hispanic agenda appointing Carlos Lopez-Cantera as Lieutenant Governor in the beginning of January and the campaign officially hired Hispanic Communications director, Jaime Florez in March.

From the silence received from the Crist campaign for almost 8 months, there was not much interest in reaching Hispanics before Annette Taddeo arrived. She ran as if she was running for governor herself.  She was the face of the candidate in Spanish.  Democrats may need to take into account that it is not only about starting early; it is about engaging the Hispanic voter.  My understanding is that Alex Sink who ran for governor on behalf of Democrats in 2010 hired a woman named Conchita Cruz as her Communications Director early in the race.  However, the force was not the same.  Sink did not have a Hispanic woman or man by her side and on the ticket to be her voice in Spanish.  Sink had Rod Smith.  The way I see it, Annette Taddeo’s talent goes beyond Florida and if I were making the calls, I would place her as the Chair of the Democratic National Committee.  Being truly bilingual is something that many Hispanic Democrats do not have.

The Inclusion of Hispanics in the Florida Republican Party

As we know, the Florida Republican Party has much experience in including Hispanics in their party.  As the Florida Democratic Party still fears to place a Hispanic in a leadership role within their party, the Republican Party has no fear in preparing young Hispanics to run for office. The Republican Party had already elected the first Hispanic Governor of Florida, Bob Martinez in 1987 as the Florida Democratic Party either fears or does not think it is important to place a Hispanic in a leadership role within their party.   It is not rocket science, Hispanics are the largest minority of registered voters in Florida.  They are passionate about politics, they just need help understanding it.

The Koch Brothers Get It

The Libre Initiative is a great example of the Republicans going to work.  It is being funded by the Koch Brothers and they are in Florida assisting the Hispanic community and making sure they know that it is the Republican Party who is doing this effort.  We also saw how in Orange County two less well-funded Hispanic Republican candidates won a race against two Democratic Anglo Saxons and incumbents who were very well funded.  This says so much.

The LEAD Task Force

When you have one person focusing on Hispanic outreach in the state of Florida for the Florida Democratic Party vs. five people doing the same for the Florida Republican Party of Florida, you know that a need is not being met.  My interest is that Hispanics are not taken for granted and are not ignored, regardless of party affiliation. There is much to learn from the Republican Party of Florida in this sense, and if Florida Democrats continue to go with the same people and the same ideas, please do not expect to win a race for Governor of Florida any time soon.

For this reason, when I saw that Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant and Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson created a Task Force to talk about where they are going, it was important to me that it had a better representation of the Hispanic community and the “doers”. I did not understand why the majority of the people invited were the same people who have always been part of the party.  Isn’t doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results the very definition of insanity?  I asked Chairwoman Tant to include two Hispanic leaders on this task force.  Chairwoman Tant responded and she will be including one on the Task Force.   To know more about that, you can read Maria Padilla’s story here: Democrats to Add Hispanic Caucus Leader to Task Force

Moving forward

So, in order to move ahead, Democratic political operatives need to stop blaming this race on the fact that the opposition had too much money as Steve Schale has commented or that there needs to be a change in the Constitution in order to make the Florida gubernatorial race the same year as the presidential election as Kevin Cate has suggested.  Reuben Askew, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles are clear examples that the party does not need all the money in the world to win.  Maybe it is time to go back to the drawing board and start walking Florida again.  Focus on core actions, not words.  The Florida communities are people, not numbers.  There is a way to win.  However, you will need to include the “doers” and stop going to the same people for fresh ideas.  It is time to build coalitions, it is time to include the youth and it is time to place minorities in high positions within the party.  Once you have done this, you can now compete with the machine the Republican Party has created.