Making Latino votes count

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Republican candidates and President Obama are spending thousands of dollars on Spanish-language outreach to Latino voters, whose numbers are huge and growing. But Latinos are among those hurt worst by the actions of Democratic and Republican politicians: cuts to social services and education, wars that drain the budget and destroy lives, and massive deportations.

All this is enough to keep you in bed with the covers over your face refusing to vote. But you have an alternative! The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) is running candidates who offer real solutions to problems facing Latinos, whether they are longtime U.S. residents or new immigrants from Mexico, Central or South America, or the Caribbean. And these are solutions that will improve life for every poor and working person.

Stephen Durham, for president, and Christina López, for vice president, are feminist champions of workers and young people of all colors. Durham is the FSP organizer in New York City and López is president of Radical Women in Seattle.

Standing up for immigrants. Durham and López demand an immediate end to anti-immigrant witch-hunts, deportations, super-exploitative “guest worker” programs, and the militarization of the border by the government and vigilantes. They fight for the repeal of racist, anti-immigrant policies like the “Secure Communities” deportation program and SB1070, the Arizona law that mandates racial profiling. They oppose requiring a Social Security card to get a job or driver’s license and requiring citizenship to attend college or receive student financial aid.

The candidates also support the right of all U.S. residents to vote. Over 40 states or territories at some time have allowed noncitizen residents to vote, and this should be made universal.

Durham and López advocate unconditional amnesty for all undocumented immigrants. They believe in open borders. Corporations have the right to cross borders to promote their economic interests, and workers should too — especially since U.S. trade deals like NAFTA cause much of the poverty that drives people to leave their homes to find work.

Healthcare is a human right. Because healthcare in the U.S. is so expensive and medical insurance is often inadequate or unobtainable, especially for undocumented immigrants, many Latinos suffer and die unnecessarily. Latinos fighting chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension get no help; parents are deprived of the care they need for their children and themselves. Latinas who need reproductive services go without; poor women who choose an abortion may be forced to get an unsafe one. Elderly Latinos on Medicare can’t afford to pay for their medicines.

Durham and López stand for taxing corporations and the rich and nationalizing healthcare — taking the profits out. This will bring down costs, free up funds to restore programs to help seniors, the poor, children, single mothers, and the homeless, and make it possible to provide free medical care for all, including reproductive and abortion services.

For quality education and full employment. Most Latino parents encourage their children to get a better education as a way out of poverty. But access to education is difficult in the midst of tuition hikes, cuts in financial aid, loss of affirmative action, and the outlawing of successful programs like Mexican American Studies in the Tucson school district, which help keep kids in school.

Increasing numbers of Latinos are dropping out of high school. These young people will be forced into low-paying and dead-end jobs, if they find work at all. This means that many may turn in desperation to selling and using drugs. This puts them at risk of being arrested and becoming yet another brown face in the racist criminal justice system.

To change this bleak situation, Durham and López propose using increased corporate taxes to pay for free quality public education, multicultural and multilingual, through college or trade school. They stand for restoring ethnic studies programs and canceling student debt. They believe schools should provide childcare for students and staff and free, healthy meals.

The candidates call for achieving full employment by disarming the war machine and using the money to fund massive job and training programs at union wages.

They demand an end to the phony war on drugs. They favor treatment and job training, not prison, for addicts, and making drugs legal to end the dangerous illegal drug trade and its inflated profits. To reduce police abuse and racial profiling, they advocate for elected civilian review boards with real authority.

A campaign worth your support. Because of the severe obstacles to ballot access for minor parties, voters in most states will have to write in the FSP’s candidates. Voting for López and Durham is a way to protest against the discrimination and exploitation Latinos experience and an undemocratic electoral system. And the campaign is a way to bring together both voters and nonvoters to take action and build a movement for justice and a better future. For more information, visit

Make your vote count for working and poor folks, not against them. Adelante with Durham and López!

Yolanda Alaniz is author with Megan Cornish of Viva la Raza: A History of Chicano Identity and Resistance.

Also see: Politics is about to change — here come the socialists

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