The Impact of Hispanics in the United States / Miriam Leiva

Miriam Leiva, Havana | 09/27/2012 9:52 am

From Cubaencuentro

National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, from September 15th to October 15th, holds particular importance this year, since it occurs during the electoral campaign heading up to the elections on November 6th. Hispanics can determine the results, especially if they use their right, which they do not always exercise, granted as American citizens.

Among Hispanics, Cuban-Americans could contribute to the country and the people that took them in, sharing opportunities, and even with the Cuban people living in our small archipelago through their support for the continuation of the measures adopted by the current administration.

Celebrating Hispanic heritage started on the national scale in 1968 with a celebration that lasted a week, the week chosen so as to coincide with Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th; Mexico on September 16th; and Chile on September 18th. In 1988, President Reagan approved a law that extended the celebration to a month, from September 15th to October 15th.

The population of the United States is 311,000,000 people, of which 50,500,000 are Hispanic (63% of Mexican origin), or 17.9%, and this is expected to rise to 30% by 2050. 19,500,000 of these Hispanics were eligible to vote in the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Each month, 50,000 youth reach adulthood, and in 2012 there are more than two million new voters, for a total of 23,000,000; however, only 60% are registered to vote. In the previous elections, 2 out of 3 voted for Obama. In swing states, the Latin population is 245,000 (14.2%) in Nevada, 104,000 (5.9%) in Utah, 455,000 (12%) in Colorado, 749,000 (8.5%) in Illinois, 128,000 (1.5%) in Ohio, 254,000 (2.2%) in Virginia, and 2,100,000 (16%) in Florida, where, as it is well-known, Cubans play an important role, go to vote, and, in this opportunity, could do even more.

The different visits to these states by President Barack Obama and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, their interviews in Spanish-language television, radio, and newspapers, as well as their campaign materials in this languages, confirm the importance they place on how Hispanics can influence the results.

The notable participation of Marco Rubio, senator of Cuban origin, at the Republican Convention and Julián Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and second-generation Mexican, at the Democratic Convention demonstrate the importance of Hispanics in the current contest.

Rubio, a young man supported by the Tea Party, reached his current position in the last elections, but his captivating impression made people wonder if he would be presented for Vice President, or if he would prefer to wait and aspire to the Presidency four years from now.

Castro, 37 years old, is seen as a potential candidate, as he is a great orator, capable of reaching the public, and shows the aggressiveness required to be President of the United States.

Although President Obama is indebted to this segment of the American population, which mainly supported him in the 2008 election, above all for the hoped-for law for immigration reform (there are around 12 million undocumented immigrants), the advantage currently goes to Romney, for 63% against 28%. In addition to positions unbecoming to traditional Republican Party members, the current candidate has expressed opinions detrimental to eliciting sympathy, and which actually spark great fear.

For its part, the populace of Cuban origin has been able to participate in all of the opportunities that competitive, thriving American society offers, and with its efforts, has elevated itself to outstanding positions in business, culture, sports, science, religion, politics, and more.

There are Representatives and Senators of both parties that reach these notable positions through their capabilities and attention to the diverse interests of voters. In Florida, in particular, they carry out an important role as the decisive vote in this state, so that relations with Cuba constitute not a theme of international (exterior) politics, but rather domestic (internal) politics.

Keeping in mind that they have been the driving forces behind the commercial embargo, they lamentably coincide with the immovable ruling on the Island over the course of the last 53 years, which in reality favors the interests of those who hope to remain in power and bequeath it to their heirs or chosen people.

The embargo, called “blockade” in Havana, benefits the regime against which it acts, since it is  used as an argument to justify the regime’s whims and failures, blaming imperialist aggression, but fundamentally to suppress any opinion contrary to what is dictated.

However, for more than a decade, since the presidency of George W. Bush, fortunately for the poorly fed Cubans, the United States has been the main supplier of food to Cuba, and it occupies fifth place in the socio-commerce of goods, mainly for this reason.

The Island population very positively recognizes the measures of President Obama to allow visits by Cuban-Americans and to send money, which have: contributed to normalizing family and friendly contacts; largely mitigated the economic precariousness; notably reduced dependence with respect to the Government, almost the only employer; and favored expanding information about the exterior reality, especially regarding possibilities for personal and social development in the United States, as well as visits to the country.

Currently, a change in the politics of bringing the peoples of both sides of the Straits of Florida closer together is greatly feared in Cuba. The course of the American elections is followed with great interest, in great contrast to what occurs with the elections in October to select delegates to the People’s Power, whom everyone knows are chosen beforehand, and which will neither resolve any problems for the citizens, nor will have an influence on the serious economic, political, and social crisis prevailing in Cuba.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

September 27 2012