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?

Florida Democratic Party Searching for a Bilingual Media Director

flademsBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Viva the FDP!  The day has come.  After a strong initiative from various leaders in Florida, The Florida Democratic Party has agreed on the importance of hiring  a communcations professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle.  Speaking further to Chairwoman Allison Tant about this position,  Political Pasion asked her if the position would continue past 2016.  Chairwoman Tant stated: “It will be ongoing after ’16 as long as we have the budget to fund it.  I am committed to see this happen.  So now put the word out so we have good applicants!”  In addition, the party has hired Sheyla Asencios as their Hispanic Outreach Coordinator and she will start working with the FDP starting September.  Samantha Pedrosa, has also joined the FDP team and started in their finance department yesterday.  Allison Tant ended by saying: “We are building a great team!”  Here are the details for those who wish to apply to the position:

The Florida Democratic Party is seeking communications professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle. 

This position will assist the communications director in the day-to-day responsibilities of the communications department and will oversee Spanish-language communication for the Party. This will include on-the-record conversations with local, state, and national media, and the drafting and translating of press releases, op-eds, and social media content.

The job will be based in South Florida with frequent travel to Tallahassee and statewide.

Responsibilities: 

  • Assist the communications director in day-to-day press responsibilities and rapid response
  • Develop relationship with Hispanic press outlets and reporters
  • Manage Spanish-speaking surrogates throughout Florida
  • Organize, pitch, and execute earned media events targeted at Hispanic media outlets
  • Write or translate press releases, op-eds, and social media posts
Qualifications: 
  • Fluency in Spanish (speaking, reading, and writing)
  • Experience with media, public relations, or journalism
  • Demonstrated exceptional

Please email resumes to Max Steele at msteele@fladems.com

Thought Provoker: Jim Cason, Mayor of Coral Gables, Florida

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.”

Underestimating Marco Rubio’s Diversity Factor?

SenatorRubio By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

 

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.

20150413_182117_resized[1]

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.

Media Does Not Attend A Press Conference Regarding Hispanics In State Capitol

Lobby Days

DHCF meet at Florida Turnpike to head to Tallahassee to advocate for issues that affect Hispanics.

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?

DHCF at Lobby Days.  March 25, 2015

DHCF at Lobby Days. March 25, 2015

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Support

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.

Oppose

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.

Hispanics in Florida Request Bilingual Spokesperson from Florida Political Parties

spokespersonBy 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

Sincerely,

(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:

Chair Letter to Perez-Verdia March 6, 2015

letter_3_10_15

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.

Campaigns and Political Parties Need to Spice it Up

Domino Effect English

 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.

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The Hispanic Vote: The Largest Minority Voting Bloc in Florida

Hispanic family outside home

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

The most recent voter registration numbers as of July 28, 2014 show that there are 1,705,985 Hispanics registered to vote in Florida in the upcoming elections. 14% of the 11, 807,507 Florida registered voters are Hispanic, making us the largest minority voting bloc in Florida.  We surpassed the African American vote in Florida by 100,000.  However, our numbers are possibly higher due to the fact that the voter registration applications did not start including the term Hispanic until after 1995 on the voting registration application.  In addition, to this day, it is optional to place if you are Hispanic or not.

The five largest counties with registered Hispanics are:

 710,446 in Miami Dade County

190,322 in Broward County

153,387 in Orange County

113,380 in Hillsborough County

81,641 in Palm Beach County

This makes South Florida the most populous area of Hispanic voters in Florida.  In addition, we see why the Hispanic vote is the swing vote for the upcoming 2014 elections.

466,778 Hispanics are Republicans, 652,784 are Democrats and 558,707 have No Party Affiliation. There are only 20,831 registered as Independents.  Due to the differences in cultural, political and social beliefs, it is very difficult to know how Hispanics are going to sway.  The Hispanic vote is one of the few votes that campaigns will need to fight for.

You may ask; why such a large amount of No Party Affiliation?  My theory?  When I was spokeswoman at the Supervisor of Elections office in Broward County, the Voter Education and Outreach team would go to the Naturalization ceremonies to register new citizens.  Many new citizens did not know what it meant to be a Republican or Democrat, so they opted to place No Party Affiliation when they registered.  We live in a society where many Hispanics do not understand the beliefs of the two strongest parties that exist in the United States.  Another theory is that those Hispanics, who do understand the political parties, are tired of promises, pandering and punishment and have changed their affiliation from a specific party to focusing on what a person has to give as a candidate.  Hispanics, even when they are associated with a certain party, vote for the person and not the party.  Although many may not understand what their political views are, they do get brownie points for being charismatic, Hispanic and for being verbal in regards to the issues that matter to Hispanics.  Others just want a candidate that stands up for his or her beliefs.

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