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.
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?
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
Jeb Bush wants to make it clear that the Hispanic vote is important to him. According to a Pew Research Poll, 64% of Hispanics living in the United States are Mexican-Americans like his wife, Columba Bush. Many Mexican-Americans tend to be Democrats. And Democrats can’t afford to lose them to Jeb. So here is how the batalla (battle) goes:
Los Demócratas Pegan Duro (Hit Hard)
On Monday, June 15, 2015, Democrats swung hard at a press conference at Florida International University, prior to Jeb Bush’s announcement for president at Miami Dade College in Kendall, Florida. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (a Caucasian Jewish woman and the chair of the Democratic National Committee) punched hard as she stated that “King Jeb” only looks out for himself and for people like him. She did what Democratic strategists plan to do from here on forward: never stop connecting him to his brother and father and stating that America is still “digging out of the hole” that his brother George W. created.
The chair of the DNC was accompanied by the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, a group of volunteers who are doing the job of being very present in the community and being a voice that shows that Democrats care for Hispanics. On the other hand, the Florida Democratic Party says they do not have the budget to focus on Hispanics.
The Army of the United Colors of Benneton, Just Better Dressed
At Jeb’s presidential announcement, never in my life had I seen so many outfits on women that I wanted in my closet, so many media outlets, so many Asian-Americans at a rally and people in media showing their spicy moves (see reporter dancing behind me in video)
According to University of South Florida political scientist, Dr. Susan MacManus, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing minority group in Florida, even surpassing Hispanics. They tend to be Independent. They supported Obama in the past, and they have also supported Republicans, which makes them a potential swing vote.
One thing is certain, Jeb made sure that when he announced his candidacy for president, the moment would be about him, his beliefs and about his multicultural army. He wanted for everyone to have not one bit of doubt that he can attract people of all communities— Helen Aguirre Ferre, the first woman to chair of the Board of Trustees of Miami Dade College gave an amazing speech filled with vigor and bilingualism. Toni Jennings, a Republican and the first female Lieutenant Governor of Florida talked about her times with Jeb and about the Hurricane days. The whole room had chills when the African-American Reverend R.B. Holmes Jr. of Tallahassee, Florida gave a speech that had a Martin Luther King Jr. tune and words that supported a Republican.
Jeb, who wished to be seen as his own person, has decided to leave the name “Bush” in the past by deleting it from his campaign, focusing on his immediate family, and his mom; Barbara Bush who ties with Hillary Clinton as the most admired First Lady in the United States according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.
George the father and George W. the brother were not present. And as we talk about political battles, the reminder of war and extreme spending was not an issue that I am sure Jeb wanted to make present. When I asked Laura Hinojosa, a 36 year old, Colombian-American Democrat who lives in Delray Beach, Florida what she thought about Governor Bush. She said: “For me the problem is that when I hear the name “Bush” all I can think of are the useless wars and spending they got this country into. We have always gone to war for interests such as petroleum and in places where it should not be our war. Why are we not in war in places where there are truly human violations and people are dying of hunger? I have not analyzed him. However at the end of the day, he is a “Bush”. Interesting, the Pew Research Center has not polled Hispanics on their position on war since 2007. I cannot find any major pollster asking Hispanics what they think about going back to war.
Yes, Jeb is a White Caucasian Male
Over and over I saw that in terms of the organization of the event, every single candidate was slapped on their face with a white glove. However, some critics say that Jeb let everyone speak, but the white male which people state Jeb is doing so poorly with. Due to so much Latin “sabor” (flavor), have people forgotten that he is a white male? Some say that he should have paid a little more attention to the white vote at the event or have included a white male for that reason. He does need the white vote to win. Romney had 59% of the white vote in 2012. Yet, in order for any candidate to win, everyone is aware that they will need a slice of each community to be victorious.
The Undeniable Latino Strategy:
What better surrogates than your own good-looking (in my humble opinion) sons. As I stood with the media, the moment when I heard the cameras click out of control was when “46” as some Republicans like to call George P. Bush and Jeb’s son took the microphone. George P looked right into the camera, and in perfect Spanish said: “Tu vales muchisimo. Tu hermano hispano.””You matter so much, you, Hispanic brother.” They were powerful words that touched the pain of many who feel disrespected, forgotten and racially harassed in “the land of the free”.
Yet, Democrats continue to say to be careful. “In spite of his rhetoric, Jeb Bush is no friend of the Latino community.” said Maurizio Passariello, the recently named South Florida Public Relations Director for the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. “His lack of support for President Obama’s efforts to offer relief to undocumented immigrants and keep families together. His indifference to the plight of Latinas working full time, who are making 56 cents for every dollar paid to a white non-Hispanic male and his plans to gut education spending, from early education through Pell Grants, clearly demonstrate that. He may speak our language, but he certainly does not understand our priorities.”
Are Hispanics Truly in The Democrat’s Pocket?
Being that Jeb Bush is from Florida and Hispanics in Florida had largest voter turnout from any state in the nation in 2012, it is time for the campaigns to take the Latino vote seriously. Just because so many Hispanics are Democrats, it does not mean they are faithful to the party. At the end of the day, they will pick who they like the most.
Jason Rubinstein, is an Ecuadorian-American Democrat with Jewish roots and Catholic upbringing who has placed an Obama sign in his front yard in the past. He has a master’s degree, an excellent job, speaks perfect English, and is the son of a former diplomat. He also was one of the many who signed a petition that asked the Florida parties to give the community a bilingual Communications Director. This time, he says that Jeb has his vote, depending on who is his VP. He hopes it will be someone from the minority community and hopefully a woman. It is one of those moments, where you look at what just happened and then you look a second time in disbelief. My reaction is exactly what can happen to the Democrats in 2016 if they do not get a bit more serious and start hiring Hispanics to be a fundamental part of their organization. I am not just talking about Hillary Clinton who has done an excellent job doing so. I am talking about involving Hispanic professionals (and paying them a just amount) in all campaigns where there is a large Hispanic population. It shows that the Democratic Party should not believe that Hispanic Democrats are in their pocket.
Why is Jason voting for Jeb?
“I think this a good alternative for the Democrats and for people like me who are not left wing nut jobs.” Says the Tampa native as we speak in Spanish. “Por mas Bush que sea” (Even though he is a Bush), I believe he is different from his brother. More open to the immigration issue which hits home. Due to the terrible situation that Ecuador lives in, I know people who are here undocumented. I could never support a person who does not support these people. It would be to go against “my people”. What I admire the most about him is that he had “los huevos” (the balls) to be of the ultra-conservative American aristocracy and that he would have married a Mexican girl with no money. Imagine what that must have been for them 40 years ago. “Tienes que tener bien puesto los pantalones para hacer eso, no te parece?” “You need to have guts to do something like that, don’t you think?”
It is true. According to a NY Mag article, after Reagan-Bush won the White House ticket, Jeb moved to Florida due to his wife experiencing racism among their white, Republican circles in Houston. When he was asked about it, according to the article, he said: “Subtle, sublte. It’s very different now, very welcoming, very open, particularly the big open areas.” Yet still not in places like Charleston, South Carolina, I suppose.
Jeb being in the race is a “batalla” to definitely not take for granted. We live in a time where you can no longer win with the white vote alone. The parties need to get serious which means investing in our communities and not expect for us to do everything for free while they pay hefty sums to others. We are aware of the racism that exists. We are aware because of the current positions we continue to have in terms of leadership. It definitely is not due to lack of leadership and expertise within all minority communities. As a community, you do not need to say anything, and we know it. We know when we are being pandered to. We know when we are being disrespected. Yet we remain quiet sometimes for fear of losing those promises that never happen. Those days are over, and if you do not pay attention, if you do not show respect for what makes America beautiful, and come to the realization that we are part of that beauty… you will lose the battle. A battle that Jeb seems to clearly understand.
Por Evelyn Perez-Verdia
- De acuerdo con el Centro de Investigación Pew 35.8 millones de Hispanos hablan español en su casa.
- De acuerdo con la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos aproximadamente 3.6 millones de residentes en la Florida hablan español.
- Muchos candidatos y partidos políticos de diferentes estados en los Estados Unidos no incorporan el español en sus páginas web.
- Muchos no tienen directores de comunicación que son fluidos en el español.
- Por medio de La Ley del Derecho del Voto, el Departamento de Justicia requiere que las oficinas de elecciones tengan información en español si más del 5 por ciento de los ciudadanos que tienen edad para votar son considerados parte de ese grupo de lenguaje minoritario y tiene un inglés limitado.
- En Florida, los condados de Broward, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach y Polk se les requiere por ley proveer asistencia en español.
- El partido Democrata y Republicano de la Florida no tienen su pagina web tambien traducida al español.
- El Partido Republicano de la Florida acaba de contratar a un director de comunicaciones bilingüe, pero el Partido Republicano de Texas y California todavía no tienen a un director de comunicaciones bilingüe. El Partido Demócrata de California y Texas tienen directores de comunicaciones bilingües, pero el Partido Demócrata de la Florida todavía no.
It is pretty tough when you are not proficient in a language, right? To read in English, go here: https://politicalpasionespanol.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/enespanol-campaign/
It is a pleasure to have Mayor Jim Cason as a “Thought Provoker” on Political Pasión. These “Thought Provokers” are individuals (or a group) that make a difference in our community and challenge us to do the same.
Script translated into English:
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “This is Evelyn Perez-Verdia with Political Pasion and here we are with Mayor Jim Cason of Coral Gables. First of all, congratulations on your most recent win as mayor of Coral Gables.”
Mayor Cason: “Thank you. Three elections in four years.”
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Wow, incredible. We are here Mayor Cason to talk about something that is important to us. Could you share with us why it is important for Hispanics to go out and vote?”
Mayor Cason: “I would say that in many places in Latin America–I have lived in 15 countries and the opportunity to vote is not presented for various reasons. In Cuba you can not vote because their is no voting. Other countries can not vote due to poverty or due to their system in which the people can not vote freely or their vote is stolen. That is why it is important for people who have the opportunity to vote, to do so. Political power comes from voting and politicians are going to hear those who vote. So, if people do not vote, they are not going to influence the decisions of the government.”
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “What do you think the Hispanic lacks so that he or she goes out to vote?”
Mayor Cason: “Here in the United States?”
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Yes.”
Mayor Cason: “I believe that here the elderly vote more than the youth. In the case of Coral Gables, a great part of the residents are Cuban-Americans who left their country in ’61 and they recognize the importance of the vote, they have passion and want to express their points of view. The youth, not only Hispanics but all of those of the same nature do not vote. They come out in presidential elections and come out in November. Yet in local elections for an example, very few vote. They do not see how it influences their life and what happens in a city, yet they are incorrect. Everyone should vote, especially the youth. Sometimes things go well and they don’t feel it is necessary to vote. It is always necessary to vote. Here in Coral Gables, twenty-five percent vote in the elections, on a good day. Twenty-five percent of the voters that are registered.”
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Wow. Well to finalize, could you give a message to the youth about the importance of going out to vote and why it is important.”
Mayor Cason: “If the youth have a vision of how their country and their community should be, it is not going to happen by them waiting on a miracle. It will need to happen through a political process. If they do not vote we are not going to know what they want, we are just going to assume–and what they want is not going to happen.”
Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Exactly. Thank you very much, Mayor.”
Mayor Cason: “You are welcome.”
As U.S. Florida Senator Marco Rubio trails Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in white votes 43%-45% according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats say that Rubio still does not have a chance of winning due to his stance on rapprochement with Cuba and also his position on immigration reform. The Republicans seem to believe that if he continues targeting the middle class and poor through his personal stories, and focuses on the Latinos who think just like them, he has a chance of getting that 35% percent of the Hispanic vote that he needs. The strategy is that he does not need to convince all Hispanics, just the conservative ones that support his cause.
On Monday, April 13th, I had the opportunity to view the diversity of individuals from outside of the iconic Freedom Tower in Miami at Marco Rubio’s announcement for President of the United States.
Los Cubano-Americanos (The Cuban-Americans)
While only 5% of Latino populations in the U.S. are Cuban-American, the majority in favor of Rubio (if not faithful to Jeb Bush) are conservative Cuban-Americans. We had the Sugar King Jose Pepe Fanjul (Fan-Yul in English, Fan-hul in Spanish) present at Rubio’s announcement and who a couple weeks later will have a fundraiser for him in West Palm Beach. Like in many families, there is a brother that is a Democrat and one who is a Republican–Pepe Jr. is the Republican. At the event we also saw proud Cuban-American women holding the Cuban flag, and wearing not one, but two lapel pins with Rubio’s handsome (according to Latinas between the ages of 35-80) face on them. Four Cuban-Americans who were hyped after Rubio’s announcement, stood in front of freedom tower (one with pink pants, white shoes and without socks) screaming at the climate change protestors: “Comunistas!” while reporter Michael Putney from Channel 10 was interviewing a Jewish man who supported Rubio.
Los Latinos (Self explanatory)
There was a bilingual Hispanic man (not Cuban) holding Marco’ Rubio’s book while his baby son wore a shirt that said “Future President of The United States”. Venezuelan-American conservatives, who also carry a similar pain as many conservative Cuban-Americans, support Rubio. We saw people like Mayor of the City of Doral, Luigi Boria. Also present was the well known Colombian-American Fabio Andrade, who moves the Latin-American masses in South Florida and who strongly says: “Si, yo estoy con el” (yes, I am with him). Fabio has worked with Bush before. May we not forget that Marco’s wife, Jeannette Dousdebes is Colombian-American.
Los Jovenes (The Youth)
A young generation of white Anglo Saxon teenage kids were also in full support. One caught my eye as he was wearing a t-shirt with the American eagle on it as he screamed “Whoo!” for Rubio and watched the speech on the Jumbo Tron. Behind them were the DACA kids or who we also call the “DREAMers” protesting and asking Rubio “What about my dream?!” as the senator continued to say that his father stood behind a bar in the back of the room so that he could stand behind a podium, in front of the room he was in.
Los Espirituales (The Spiritual Ones)
As Senator Rubio’s guests left with smiles on their face, I saw a priest walk calmly out of the tower as he contently watched the different people who surrounded him. I asked him if I could interview him. He complied with a cool demeanor. According to the priest, a protestant pastor prayed for Senator Rubio, before his announcement, yet Father Dan Beeman lives in Virginia and was the priest who prayed for Rubio after he announced he would run for President of the United States. As you see in the video, he mentions how impressed he was by the diversity of the crowd. From his Twitter account, this priest seems to know how to bring back Catholicism in a cool light to Millenials as he drinks beer with the Marco Team and says on Twitter that the most difficult thing of Marco’s event was not screaming “Polo”. According to The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, 55% of the nation’s 34.5 million Hispanics identify as Catholic.
Here is Father Beeman who you can find on Twitter:
En Español (You get this one too)
At his announcement for president, Rubio also targeted the Spanish-speaking abuela who usually goes unnoticed, living in the English-spoken home of her daughter or son, yet Marco spoke to her on TV as he mentioned the words his father said to him all “en español”.
Que Va A Importar? (What Will Matter?)
In the day and age where our youth are not in touch with the policies of the candidate, all they will see and be attracted to is the youth that Rubio brings to the table. However, the Clinton campaign believes that if they get the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro to be her Vice-President, they will cover this demographic also. Castro is Hispanic, yet he does not speak Spanish. However it seems that this is the conversation that they will have with the guy who produces the commercial: “It’s all good, man. He is a Latino. What we are going to do is have a guy 20 years older than him translate what he is saying in Spanish, and it will work out perfectly.” This is where Democrats need to seriously ask themselves if having a Hispanic on the ticket, even though he does not speak Spanish will be enough. Hillary may run against two potential candidates that have this gift (Bush or Rubio).
According to a quote Rice University political scientist Mark Jones gave to the Texas Tribune: “Any Hispanic politician that doesn’t have that skill set is disadvantaged, in part, because they don’t have the ability connect in the same way with a key segment of the voting public. Language helps demonstrate commitment and a level of connection that is important with many voters whose dominant language is Spanish.” It is definitely something that the other candidates might underestimate of Rubio and something to seriously think about for 2016.
The Power of Rubio’s Message
As I hear Democrats and Republicans talk about the fact that Marco Rubio does not have a chance. At his event he showed the power he has to bring people together from different communities—it is something no candidate should take for granted.
Marco reached out to Millennials with his Pitbull music playing (which he knows personally and on first name basis) and painting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as someone from “yesterday” very similarly as the young Bill Clinton did in his campaign when he spoke about George H. Bush.
There are definitely some clear differences in policy between Bush, Clinton and Rubio that affects us as Latinos. Yet, in the day and age where most voters do not look at the policies of a candidate, but in how much they like him, Rubio has that in for him also. The big pocket Koch Brothers definitely understand this and that is why the plan to back him. Which means that Senator Rubio will have unimaginable amounts of money to give a bilingual message.
Truly, we all know that the physical attractiveness of the person should not be the basis of any campaign, but sadly that is what politics has come down to. How much can an ad convince you that he or she is the one? How much can they bring to life through words your vision for America? How much can you bear looking at them for the next four or eight years? If he only had the skills to play the saxophone on a late night show. The diversity that Rubio brings is definitely something not to underestimate.
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
Members of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida visited Tallahassee today to lobby legislators on issues they believe are important to Hispanics in Florida.
“Today, the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida is in the State Capitol advocating for our Latino community in the issues that will improve their quality of life such as state minimum wage, driver license requirements, employment discrimination and many other bills that will lead to a positive change for our community,” said Vivian Rodriguez, President of the DHCF “We will be lobbying on behalf of the countless Hispanic voices that need to be heard in Tallahassee”
Yet, when the DHCF scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, March 25, at 11:45 am in front of the Senate Chamber to report on its progress, forty people were left standing behind a podium with no one to share their efforts with. Media did not attend or cover the event–The question is Why?
This was the second year that the DHCF visits the state capital to try to influence its representatives on the following bills:
HB 25 – Employment Discrimination
Designates act as “Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act”; provides legislative findings & intent relating to equal pay for equal work for women; recognizes importance of DEO & FHRC in ensuring fair pay; provides for duties of department & commission; creates Governor’s Recognition Award for Pay Equity in Workplace.
SB 98: Employment Discrimination
Creating the Helen Gordon Davis Fair Pay Protection Act; recognizing the importance of the Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Commission on Human Relations in ensuring fair pay; creating the Governor’s Recognition Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace; requiring that the award be given annually to employers in this state which have engaged in activities that eliminate the barriers to equal pay for equal work for women, etc.
HB 33 – Prohibited Discrimination
General Bill by Raschein (CO-SPONSORS) Edwards; Hager; Jenne; Jones, S.; Moskowitz; Richardson; Stark
Creates “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation & gender identity or expression; defines terms; provides exceptions for constitutionally protected free exercise of religion.
SB 156: Prohibited Discrimination
GENERAL BILL by Abruzzo
Creating the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; revising provisions to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and the perception of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, handicap, or marital status as impermissible grounds for discrimination; adding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as impermissible grounds for discrimination, etc.
SB 300: Driver Licenses and Identification Cards
GENERAL BILL by Garcia ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Bullard
Driver Licenses and Identification Cards; Requiring proof of a taxpayer identification number or other specified identification number for certain applicants for a driver license; authorizing additional specified documents that are issued by foreign governments to satisfy proof of identity requirements; prohibiting the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to waive certain tests for applicants who provide specified proof of identity documents; requiring the department to mark licenses to indicate compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005 under specified circumstances, etc.
SB 364: Driver License Requirements
GENERAL BILL by Soto
Including notice of the approval of an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as valid proof of identity for purposes of applying for a driver license, etc.
HB 47 – State Minimum Wage
General Bill by Stafford (CO-SPONSORS) Cortes, J.; Watson, B.
Increases state minimum wage; provides that an employer may not pay employee at rate less than state minimum wage; deletes requirement that only individuals entitled to receive federal minimum wage are eligible to receive state minimum wage.
SB 114: State Minimum Wage
GENERAL BILL by Bullard
Increasing the state minimum wage; prohibiting an employer from paying an employee at a rate less than the state minimum wage; deleting the requirement that only individuals entitled to receive the federal minimum wage are eligible to receive the state minimum wage, etc.
SB 128: New Small Business Tax Credit
GENERAL BILL by Soto
Providing a tax credit to new small businesses in a specified amount for qualified employees; limiting the total amount of tax credit that may be taken as a deduction; prohibiting receipt of the tax credit through a refund of taxes previously paid; requiring a business to apply to the Department of Revenue for tax credit approval; authorizing an unused amount of tax credit to be carried forward for a specified period under certain circumstances, etc.
SB 228: Online Voter Application
GENERAL BILL by Clemens
Requiring the Division of Elections of the Department of State to develop an online voter registration system; requiring the system to compare information submitted online with Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records, etc.
SB 280: Teacher Salaries
GENERAL BILL by Soto ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Bullard
Citing this act as the “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act”; requiring the Legislature to fund the Florida Education Finance Program at a level that ensures a guaranteed minimum annual starting salary for instructional personnel; requiring the Department of Education to annually adjust the minimum starting salary; providing a formula for calculating such adjustment; requiring district school boards to adjust the minimum starting salary determined by the department by applying the district cost differential; providing that such adjustment may not reduce starting salaries below the statewide minimum, etc.
HB 4005 – Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms
General Bill by Steube (CO-SPONSORS) Baxley; Combee; Diaz, M.; Eagle; Hutson; Stone; Van Zant Deletes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into college or university facility.
I want to congratulate the DHCF and the Hispanic leaders who traveled statewide to advocate for what they believe is important for the Hispanic community.
Let’s hope next time people of influence will help this be made known to our community, and to Floridians by sharing with their media contacts. Let’s hope that next time, media believes it is important enough for them to cover. It is a winning message that Hispanics do matter in Florida. When no one speaks, the message received is that it is okay to ignore us.
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
Update March 11, 2015
In a group initiative, over 50 Hispanics from different counties in Florida, wrote a letter to the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida asking them to hire bilingual communications directors to produce and transcreate bilingual press releases, act as spokespeople and share news on social media for an ever growing Latino community that thirsts for information about the political climate in our state. The individuals are members of media in Spanish, Hispanic community leaders and concerned Hispanics.
Here is the letter:
United Hispanics/Latinos of Florida
President: Allison Tant, The Florida Democratic Party
President: Blaise Ingoglia, The Republican Party of Florida
Dear Republican and Democratic parties of Florida,
As members of Florida’s Spanish-language media who cover politics, and individuals who care about the Hispanic community, we are troubled by the lack of Spanish or bilingual communication aimed at the Latino community by either party.
There is a dire need in your party for a bilingual communications director who has the ability to accurately relay your message to the Latino media.
In the last 2012 presidential election, Florida had the highest Hispanic voter turnout of the nation – 62 percent – compared to a national average of 49 percent. We surpassed states like Texas and California, yet the parties in those states recognize that reaching Latino voters and informing the media with culturally relevant messaging is important. For example, the Texas Democratic Party has a bilingual website and communication director.
Florida will be a key state in the 2016 presidential elections. According to the census, approximately 3.6 million Florida residents speak Spanish. We also have an increasing number of Hispanics registered to vote who list no party affiliation. Many do not understand the inner workings of the parties and the important work they do even before the official election season begins. In non-campaign years, our community still thirsts for information about the political climate in our state.
As community leaders and members of Spanish-language media, we take our role to inform the public seriously and urge both parties to rectify this situation. Adding Spanish-fluent communication directors to produce and transcreate bilingual press releases, act as spokespeople and share news on social media would be an asset to both parties.
Our intent here is to convince you that Hispanic engagement is crucial, no matter the political persuasion. Latino voters are the future of the American electorate. Do not pass up the opportunity to engage with our community in meaningful ways.
We appreciate your time and consideration in this matter.
List updated March 11, 2015
(In alphabetical order)
Danny Alvarez, Attorney and Hispanic Community Leader- Hillsborough County
Carlos Barbosa, Vice President, G4S – Palm Beach County
Luis Eduardo Baron, Publisher, www.tvnet.us –Sarasota County, Florida
Annie Betancourt, Former State Representative-D116—Miami-Dade County
Luigi Boria, Mayor, the City of Doral
Norma Camero Reno, Hispanic community activist—Hillsborough County
Adriana Carrera, Publisher, www.lafamiliadebroward.com —Broward County
Liliana Castaño, Web Content Editor, Mayin Media INC—Broward County
Alan Clendenin, Vice Chairman, The Florida Democratic Party—Hillsborough County
Armando Chirinos, Publisher, http://www.venezuelaaldia.com
Benjamin F. DeYurre, Publisher, www.EconomyRecovery.Blogspot.Com –Miami-Dade County
Lourdes Diaz, President, Divercity Communications-Broward County
Maria Eugenia Fanti, Freelance Journalist and TV Producer-Miami-Dade County
Anna M. Figueroa, President, Vantaga Communications—Miami-Dade County
Cesar Gomez, Manatee County Young Republicans & Hispanic Leader–Sarasota and Manatee Counties
Ana Gonzalez- Student at Florida State University—Leon County
Jolie Gonzalez-Padilla, CEO/Publisher, Latin Times Media and Magazine – Florida
Luisana Gonzalez, Floridian Voter—Broward County
Dolores Guzman—Hispanic Community Leader—Volusia County
Maria Eldeny Hale-Sprinkle, DMI US Mission Director, Pasco County
Laura Hinojosa—Floridian Voter—Palm Beach County
Abel Ibarra, Writer, Miami-Dade County
Christian Leon, Hispanic Community Advocate-Hillsborough County
Tatiana Londoño, Supply Chain Director, Biomet 3i-Palm Beach Countyy
Rafael Lopez, Chair of the Hispanic Vote PAC- Broward County, Florida
Jesus E. Medina, Political Scientist and National Hispanic Community Leader, Miami-Dade County
Marianela Mendez, Editor, www.miamidiario.com –Miami-Dade County, Florida
Tony Morejon, Hispanic Community Leader. –Hillsborough County, Florida
Maggie Emmanuelle Nieto, Community Organizer, Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services Dept.—Miami-Dade County
Orlando R Nieves, VP-IMS, Univision–Tampa Bay
Alfredo Ortega, Hispanic Community Advocate—Broward County
Pilar Ortiz, Hispanic Community Leader – Columnist (7 Dias Newspaper) – Hillsborough County
Maria Padilla, Publisher, www.orlandolatino.org- Orange County
Militse Padilla, Copy Desk Manager, http://www.venezuelaaldia.com
Victor Padilla, Vice-President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay
Rafael Palacio, Editor, El Sentinel Orlando—Orange County
Luisa Pantin, U.S. Citizen and voter—Broward County
Carlos Pereira, President, Venezuelan American Democratic Club—Miami-Dade County
Evelyn Perez-Verdia, Founder, www.politicalpasion.com. –Broward County, Florida
Gonzalo Perez-Verdia, Vice President, Wealth Management—Broward County
Elizabeth Pines, Board Director, League of Women Voters of Florida—Miami-Dade County
Lorena Rivas Hardwick, Former Regional Political Director, Charlie Crist for Governor and current Legislative Aide Tampa City Council, Hillsborough County
Jason Rubinstein, Vice President – Portfolio Manager, Hillsborough County
Yvonne Salas, Publisher, Portada Florida Magazine- Florida
Gil Sanchez, Attorney and Hispanic Community Leader- Hillsborough
Maria Eunice Sanchez, U.S. Citizen since 2010 and Floridian voter-Broward County
Daniel Suarez, Hispanic Community Advocate- Hillsborough County.
Rey Valdes, Hispanic Community Leader—Miami-Dade
Javier Torres, Venezuelan Attorney and Hispanic Community Leader- Hillsborough County.
Jonathan Torres, Tampa Bay Field Director, Hispanic Initiatives, Republican Party of Florida
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)-South Florida Chapter
Here is the following response from Chairman Blaise Ingoglia and Chairwoman Allison Tant in reference to our request:
By 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.
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hispanics or Latinos. Most of us are known to be warm individuals, amicable and culturally engaging. We do not tend to be a society that is reluctant to open up to those who approach us. Quite the opposite. We are that weird family inviting you over to our house without hardly even knowing you and trying to make you drink one more tequila as we try to “enchilarte” (make you eat something spicy that you can’t handle) for our entertainment. At least that is how it is in our Mexican-Colombian household. Like we would say in Spanish: “Entre mas amigos, mejor.” Translated to English; “the more friends we have, the better it is for us”.
With our culture in mind, it is mind boggling how such a great political force is not being engaged by those in political power. There is no turning back my friends. You cannot wait six months before the 2016 or 2018 election to come knocking on our door. You cannot turn away the opportunity of having a debate in a national TV channel in Spanish. You need to get to know us, and allow us to know you. You need to gain our trust and tell us why we are so important to you, to our state and to this country.
Not engaging the Hispanic/Latino community
According to Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino political opinion research, in 2014, 55% of Latinos that were polled said they were not contacted by a campaign, political party or community organization in the final months before the election. The polls they have reported over the years document the consistently low rates of campaign engagement of Latinos/Hispanics eligible to vote.
In Florida, a state where the largest minority of registered voters is Hispanic, the 2014 gubernatorial candidate won by about 1 percentage point-a 61,000 vote difference. In 2012, Latino Decisions reported that 48 percent of registered Latinos voted nationwide. According to numbers shared by Miami Herald’s political reporter Marc Caputo, 64 percent (over 1 million) of registered Latinos voted in the 2012 Florida General Election. As stated by different analysts and even supervisors of elections, people go out to vote based on the inertia that the campaigns and the political parties place into the election. After having conversations with both Latino Democrats and Republicans around the state of Florida, here are some observations:
We do not know who to vote for
The domino effect in reference to Hispanics and politicos is that Hispanics do not get involved due to not knowing who to vote for. Also, according to those individuals who are engaging our community, many Latinos do not know what each political party represents. To their dismay, political parties and campaigns do not take the time to invest in them.
Wait for the “big honchos” to infiltrate the state
2016 is on its way and what seems to be the tendency for political parties and campaigns to do here in Florida is to wait for the national party team to bring in their “movers and shakers” in order for them to win Florida. Many do not know the community in Florida, they just see numbers. Every 4 years a new group of people come in and have to start practically from scratch trying to figure out how to reach our community. Those Hispanics/Latinos who know the community and who are from Florida are not included and their knowledge is underestimated.