mitú went to Kansas City for NCLR’s Annual Conference — THE largest conference of Latino leaders and advocates — to kick-off our #weareAmerica campaign. We got to talk to guys and girls just like you about what it means to be a Latino in the U.S. — the answers were life-changing.
Over the next few months, mitú will continue to collect and share your stories in order to create a true portrait of what is important, like get-your-ass-off-the-couch-and-to-a-voting-booth-important, as we head into the 2016 elections.
You have a voice. We have the platform. Don’t be shy and share your answers to these questions in the comments below or on your social media using #weareAmerica:
1. What does it mean to you to be a Latino in the US?
2. What can the next president do that would have significantly impact your life?
3. How does technology keep you connected to family and your culture?
Voting in every single election is a crucial part of voicing your concerns about how your country is run. It’s also the perfect time to dictate change, especially with presidential elections.
There’s so much corruption in Latin American — and in the U.S. — that the only way we can make a difference is by voting corruption out. That’s exactly what is taking place in Central America.
Elections are taking place in Guatemala and for the first time ever, 60,000 Guatemalans living in the U.S. will be able to cast their vote.
“At least 60,000 were eligible to vote in Los Angeles, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all home to large numbers of Guatemalan emigres,” the Associated Press is reporting.
Aside from voting for a new president, Guatemalans will be able to vote for a new vice-president, 158 congress members, and 340 mayors. Guatemalans living in the U.S. will only be able to vote for the president and vice president.
These elections are extremely important as the three previous presidents have been charged with corruption.
“There is a belief that instead of advancing in these four years of government, we’ve gone backward,” Marco René Cuellar, 39, told the New York Times. “We’ve lost our way as a country, but we should not lose faith in the democratic process we have.”
Furthermore, the next president can help bring peace to the country and end the mass exodus that is going on in Guatemala.
Since 2016, more than 90,000 Guatemalans have been deported from the U.S, NPR reports, and thousands more make the trek back due to lack of work, violence, and poverty.
While voting is taking place now, the second round of voting will happen in August.
Out of 19 presidential candidates including a former First Lady and an indigenous woman, it looks like Guatemala will have a female leader.
According to the Times, “Sandra Torres had captured more than 22 percent of the vote, followed by four-time presidential candidate Alejandro Giammattei with 16 percent.” They also report none of the candidates will secure 50 percent of the votes or more so that 22 percent is looking really good for Torres.
If last year’s midterm primaries taught us anything, it was that everyone, regardless of their background or story, has a right to run for office. Furthermore, first-time politicians who want to help the marginalized community are encouraged to run, and we now have proof they can win.
Meet Selena Alvarenga, a gay immigrant of El Salvador, that is seeking to run for District Court Judge in Texas.
Alvarenga’s campaign for judge of Travis County’s 460th District Court is steaming rolling right along as they prepare for an election. While this new seat has never been conquered, the election will be an exciting one to watch. It won’t take place until March 2020, but there’s no better time to jump into campaign mode.
She understands that her background isn’t a typical one, but that’s what makes her a perfect candidate to fight for people’s rights.
Her history as a lawyer spans two decades, and she’s an alum of St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio.
Alvarenga migrated to the U.S. with her father in the 1970s after they fled the Salvadoran Civil War.
“One day, I literally woke up, and my father said everything was packed. He said it was getting too dangerous and we had to leave. We got in the car and we started driving north,” Alvarenga said in an interview with Popsugar.
According to her website, her father worked as a computer programmer at a bank in El Salvador but in the U.S. he could only get work serving fast food. “When he finally did find a job in his field, it was in Alaska. Selena was one of three Latin American immigrants in her class.”
“I didn’t know any English, so I went to [an English as a second language] school,” she said to the publication. That adversity only helped Alvarenga excel in school.
Some of the issues she’s ready to address in her campaign include LGBTQ+ rights and ending cash bail.