Things That Matter

Will We Have A Latino Vice President Or Nah?

It’s been reported that Hillary Clinton will announce her running mate on Friday, just days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off. A lot of names have been suggested for the Vice President position. Among them are the three prominent Latino politicians you see below.

Julian Castro

Credit: @Latinos4MediaEq/Twitter

Julian Castro is the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — an Obama cabinet position — and former mayor of San Antonio. His national profile rose after delivering the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Castro is endorsed by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It also doesn’t hurt that he stumped for Clinton in Iowa, a move which some saw as trial run. The New York Times even listed the Mexican-American from Texas as a potential running mate.

Despite being the most cited Latino in Clinton’s VP short list, Castro comes with a little baggage. Back in April, a coalition of progressive groups tried to discredit him over an obscure HUD policy. The TLDR version of the attack was that Castro was allegedly making it easier for Wall Street to buy bad HUD-owned mortgages on the cheap. Several Latino political operatives saw this assault on Castro as an attack by white progressive groups throwing a Latino under the bus, which yeah, it kind of really was. But that’s not all. Castro recently violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from making political statements while on official business.

Tom Perez

Official_portrait_of_United_States_Secretary_of_Labor_Tom_Perez
Credit:  Office of the Secretary for the United States Department of Labor

Thomas Perez is the current Secretary of Labor, also serving in Obama’s cabinet. We wrote a quick primer on him back in March, but in case you didn’t read that, here’s what you need to know: He’s Dominican-American, he was an assistant attorney general who focused on civil rights violations, and he’s a progressive in the vein of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. In fact, Warren once suggested Perez as possible VP pick to prominent Democrats at a party, according to Politico.

The biggest drawback to Perez is that people don’t really know who he is, and there’s no guarantee that Mexican-Americans, who make up nearly 65 percent of the total U.S. population, will be swayed by a candidate simply because he has a Spanish last name. If that were the case, something tells us that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would’ve fared a lot better during their failed GOP presidential runs.

Xavier Becerra

Credit: @NYTNational/Twitter

Xavier Becerra is the fourth-highest ranking Democratic legislator, serving as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He represents California’s 34th congressional district, which includes downtown Los Angeles and the city’s Latino-heavy Boyle Heights neighborhood. Given that his district is immigrant-heavy and he himself is the child of immigrants, comprehensive immigration reform is one of Becerra’s most important issues. Becerra has also campaigned several times alongside Clinton in Latino-heavy regions, which is why his name has been mentioned in the first place.

There’s been some buzz around Becerra, though that has really come from fellow Democratic legislators like Rep. Joe Crowley (D – N.Y) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D – S.C.). Still, despite being a deep sleeper pick, having Becerra on the ticket might not be bad for Clinton. The Democratic nominee has repeatedly stated that she not only wants to win the White House, but also take back the House and Senate from Republicans. Picking someone like Elizabeth Warren makes that a harder task. With Becerra, however, there’s no danger of Warren’s seat going to a Republican.

But will we actually have a Latino VP?

It’s hard to say, really. Now’s a good time to remind you that Clinton made a promise to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda back April that Latinos would play a key role in her administration, and it would be shortsighted to not keep a commitment to the largest minority group in a country that’s becoming increasingly non-white. That said, recent reports suggest that the two top contenders for VP are white men. There’s also the fact that Clinton chose to skip the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, which is like the Latino national convention. Maybe she thinks having Trump as an opponent means that she can quietly start back-stepping on some of the promises made to Latinos. We’ll see.

Here’s A Quick Recap From The Last Democratic Debate Hosted By The New York Times And CNN

Things That Matter

Here’s A Quick Recap From The Last Democratic Debate Hosted By The New York Times And CNN

elizabethwarren / juliancastrotx / Instagram

Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

Things That Matter

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

@democracynow / Twitter

Ecuador’s government announced a round of talks with leaders of the Indigenous groups who have been mobilizing against the government in a move to end the violence and chaos that has racked the nation for more than a week.

President Moreno announced he would withdraw the country from a deal reached with the IMF that many said would cause the greatest harms to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In a major address, President Lenin Moreno announced he had struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package.

The news comes after nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the new agreement, President Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

“Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”

The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s growing budget deficits and public debt.

Ecuador’s Indigenous groups celebrated the announcement as a major victory.

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I don’t have words, I’m so emotional. At least God touched the president’s heart,” said protester Rosa Matango in an interview with The Guardian. “I am happy as a mother, happy for our future. We indigenous people fought and lost so many brothers, but we’ll keep going forward.”

Caravans of cars roamed the streets early on Monday honking in celebration, passengers shouting, banging pots and waving Ecuadorian flags.

“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked President Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for Indigenous Ecuadorians.

“We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”

The protests started when the President affirmed his support for an IMF-backed agreement, known as Decree 883.

The move sparked nationwide protests as prices rose overnight by about a 25% for gas and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Truck and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralyzed major roads across the country.

Images from Quito showed protesters hurling gas bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalizing public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night.

Some protests became so violent that the government was actually forced to flee the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil.

All of this was in response to Decree 883 which would have ended fuel subsidies that many of the country’s poorest citizens have come to rely on.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

“From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty,” Vargas told The Guardian. “We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up.”