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?
This past Sunday, voters took to to the polls in Guatemala and voted in a new leader that will surely shape the country for the next four years. Alejandro Giammattei, a right-wing former prison chief,took victory in the presidential electionsin Guatemala, winning nearly 60% of the vote over former First Lady Sandra Torres, who had 42% of the vote. The election was filled with many questions and ultimately became a contest where Guatemalans viewed the election a battle between the worst possible options.
Giammattei faced an uphill battle during the election cycle that many didn’t see him ending up on top considering this was his fourth attempt running for President. The 63-year-old spent several months in prison back in 2008, when he was then director of the country’s prison system, due to some prisoners being killed in a raid during this tenure. He would eventually be acquitted of wrongdoing.
“Today is a new period of the country,” Giammattei toldsupporters Guatemala City following his victory. “Those who voted for us, those who did not vote for us, and those who did not go to vote, it does not matter. Today we need to unite, today I am the president of all Guatemalans.”
Here’s what you need to know about Giammattei and why was elected to lead Guatemala.
Giammattei was at first viewed as a long shot to win the nomination but his get-tough approach to crime and his conservative viewpoints, which includes his strong opposition to gay marriage and abortion, won him over with Guatemalan voters in a presidential runoff. He ran on a platform with a promise to bring down violence, endorse family values and support the death penalty.
There are about eight million Guatemalans who are registered to vote in the Central American country. But the nation that has been hit with by poverty, unemployment and migration issues, had about 45% turnout which suggests widespread disillusionment and lack of confidence with the political process.
Giammattei will take office in January from President Jimmy Morales, who leaves a corruption-tainted legacy. He congratulated his successor and promised a “transparent and orderly” transition.
“I hope that during this transition the doors will open to get more information so we can see what, from a diplomatic point of view, we can do to remove from this deal the things that are not right for us, or how we can come to an agreement with the United States,” Giammattei, 63, told Reutersin an interview.
What does the election of Giammattei mean for Guatemala moving forward, particularly when it comes to immigration?
One of the biggest issues facing Guatemala right now are the growing number of migrants that are leaving the country and heading towards the United States. At least 1% of Guatemala’s population of some 16 million has left the country this year due to a worsening economic situation and distrust in government. About 250,000 people from Guatemala were apprehended at the border since October,according toto U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Back in July, the Morales’ administration signed an agreement with the U.S. that would require Salvadorans and Hondurans to request asylum at a port of entry in Guatemala. This was done in part to slow the number of migrants that were crossing through the country to reach the U.S. The new administration will have to figure out what to do with the agreement which could have huge ramifications when it comes to the inflow of Central American migrants coming to the U.S. border.
This all will mean that Giammattei will need to negotiate with President Trump, who last month threatened to impose a travel ban, tariffs on exports and even taxes on migrants’ remittances if the country did not work with him on immigration reform. But that relationship won’t be an easy task as many, including Giammattei don’t agree with the deal.
“It’s not right for the country,” Giammattei toldNBC News. “If we don’t have the capacity to look after our own people, imagine what it will be like for foreigners.”
There are various takes on which direction Guatemala will go in with a new leader at the top.
As a new era in politics takes shape in Guatemala many are reflecting on the possibilities and the economic effect the election may bring. Many in the country wanted change at the top due to the prior administration and the corruption that it was constantly wrapped in.
“I decided to vote against Sandra Torres because of the accusations of corruption,” Rosa Julaju, an indigenous Kaqchikel woman, toldAl Jazeera.”I hope Giammattei confronts the violence in our country. I voted for him for better security.”
Whatever the reason to vote, it’s clear the country is moving in a new direction that many hope will bring prosperity and more job opportunities. But that will all rest on Giammattei who is in control of a country that is just looking to get back on it’s feet after years of corruption at the top.
In Texas, Latina organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has launched her campaign for US Senate with the hopes of unseating Republican John Cornyn in 2020. The 37-year-old contender joined the crowded Democratic primary race on Monday. In her launch video, the Austin-based activist alluded to this month’s mass shooting in El Paso, where a white supremacist gunman shot and killed nearly two dozen Latinxs during an attack at a local Walmart.
Tzintzún Ramirez says hateful rhetoric coming from the White House and conservatives in her own state has allowed “people to feel like they can target us on the streets of our community.”
The candidate is running on a progressive platform that supports Medicare for All.
She is also pushing for the Green New Deal, “massive divestment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement” and rejecting all corporate PAC money. Recently she announced plans to create a “bold” immigration proposal that would “protect the rights of immigrant workers and families.”
“They have refused to deal with immigration reform in a state where one in 10 workers is undocumented, where the economic boom in this state has literally been built on the backs of undocumented workers,” Tzintzún Ramirez, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother and Irish-American father, told the Houston Chronicle. “We have to acknowledge states like Texas — and our country — depend on immigrant workers.”
The long-time organizer has more than a decade of experience working directly with immigrant communities.
In 2006, she co-founded the Workers Defense Project (WDP), an Austin-based immigrant workers group focusing its efforts on the construction industry, which is the largest employer of undocumented laborers in the state. Tzintzún Ramirez served as the WDP’s executive director from its start until 2016. The following year, she founded Jolt, the largest Latinx civil rights organization in the state, which works to uplift the voice, vote and issues impacting the vast demographic in Texas.
“I’m not a career politician, I have not previously run for office,” she told The Intercept. “I was recruited to run by folks that I think really wanted to have a candidate that represents the ordinary Texan and to advocate for their interests, to protect their rights and fight for them.”
Tzintzún Ramirez will depend on that experience to help her unseat the three-term GOP incumbent.
She says her team will be able to defeat the establishment by mobilizing the kind of voters that the political system has “underestimated and discounted,” particularly young folk and people of color. While the executive director of Jolt, a position she stepped down from to embark on her campaign, the group helped drive unprecedented voter registration and turnout in 2018. Jolt knocked on the doors of 40,000 Latinx voters, many of whom had never voted before, and also registered voters during Latinx cultural events, like quinceañeras and fairs, as well as on college campuses.
She says her campaign’s Latinx outreach strategy will be even “more grounded in cultural community events,” with a deeper focus on young people on college campuses.
“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez told the Houston Chronicle.
According to The Intercept, Tzintzún Ramirez is the fifth serious contender to join the Democratic primary race and has serious challengers in candidates like M.J. Hegar, an Air Force veteran who lost a 2018 House race in a Republican-leaning district; State Sen. Royce West; and Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards.
For her team, Tzintzún Ramirez has brought along several workers from Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign, which challenged incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the closest race the state has seen in the last 40 years.
Zack Malitz, O’Rourke’s former field director and a key player on the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, will serve as a senior adviser. Katelyn Coghlan, former statewide deputy field director for O’Rourke, will be her campaign manager. Ginny Goldman, co-founder of the Texas Organizing Project, will be a campaign chair. Additionally, Tzintzún Ramirez is working with Middle Seat, a digital firm that helped O’Rourke raise substantial funds throughout his campaign.
One of the first fundraising goals for Tzintzún Ramirez’s campaign was to raise $100,000 in the first 24 hours of her launch. On Tuesday, the candidate tweeted that they more than doubled that target, collecting over $200,000 in one day.
Tzintzún Ramirez believes the growing momentum around her campaign comes directly from people who are ready for a Texas that works for all Texans.
“I don’t think we have a reflection of those in power that represents the Texas we are today. I think I represent those ideals and the diversity of the state, and I want Texas to be a national leader in solving the major problems that our country faces,” she said.