Things That Matter

Candidates of Color on Their Way to Historic Wins

June 5th saw eight states head to the polls to vote for everything from Sheriffs to U.S. Senators. Those races had a lot of historic potential with candidates of color seeking to make history with unprecedented wins. Here’s who made it through to the November general election.

Kevin De Leon

Kevin de León grew up in the San Diego neighborhood of Logan Heights and was raised by his immigrant mother who supported her family by working as a housekeeper. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and later went on to become the first Latino Leader of the California Senate. de Leon came in second place in California’s top-two winner primary election system and will face first place winner, Dianne Feinstein.

After his primary win, de Leon said, “This race is a fight for California’s future…Real leadership is doing the right thing even when no one is watching – or running against you in an election.”

Deb Haaland

Deb Haaland is a former New Mexico Democratic State Party Chair, attorney, and former tribal administrator. She is a member of the Laguna-Pueblo Tribe and if she wins in November, she will be the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Congress in the 242 years since Native Americans were first colonized.

“Tonight, New Mexico made history,” Haaland said after her primary win, calling her victory a “victory for working people, a victory for women and a victory for everyone who has been sidelined by the billionaire class.”

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Michelle Lujan was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and grew up in Santa Fe, and serves New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. She is currently the Chair for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She won her primary putting her on track to become the first Democratic Latina Governor in U.S. history. She would succeed Susana Martinez, who is term-limited and was the first Republican Latina Governor in U.S. history.

Ricardo Lara

Ricardo Lara was raised by immigrant parents and in 2012 became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the California Senate. If Lara wins the November election for Insurance Commissioner he would become the first openly gay statewide officer holder in California history.

“We must fight for our place at the table and show the world we have the right to pursue our dreams,” he said. “I look forward to working together with grassroots leaders to advance a progressive, inclusive and effective agenda for all and make history in California.”

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Ammar Campa-Najjar, 29, is running for Congress in California’s 50th district. He lived in San Diego before his family moved to Gaza as a child. However, Campa-Najjar, his brother and mother relocated back to San Diego after the war broke out. His working-class upbringing motivated him to run and give back to working families.. Born to a Mexican-American mother and Palestinian father, Campa-Najjar could be the first Latino-Arab American to be elected to Congress.

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Things That Matter

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Anadolu Agency / Getty

The coronavirus isn’t stopping the United States from continuing its maximum pressure campaign on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

For well over a year, Venezuela has suffered from a massive political crisis. President Nicolas Maduro clings to power as a growing number of foreign countries (including the U.S.) recognize his main competitor, Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim-President.

But as the country struggles to confront a growing Coronavirus pandemic, the international community is imploring the Trump administration to ease sanctions of the struggling nation. Many are concerned over its spread amid a collapsing health care system and a deep economic crisis, aggravated by U.S. sanctions and low oil prices.

The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government.

Credit: Kenneth Rapoza / Getty

However, getting both Maduro and Guaidó to buy into the plan – let alone millions of Venezuelans – will be an immense challenge. Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó would both have to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.

Under the “democratic transition framework”, all political prisoners would be released, and all foreign – mostly Cuban – forces would leave. A five-member council would be selected, with two members chosen by the opposition, two by Maduro’s Socialist party, and the fifth member picked by the other four.

“The hope is that this set-up promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has long pushed for regime change in Venezuela and this could be a major step towards achieving this policy.

“The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the manmade crisis in Venezuela,” the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said.

“The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime’s failure to adequately prepare for and address the global Covid-19 pandemic. This framework demonstrates our commitment to helping Venezuela fully recover and ensures that the voice of the Venezuelan people is respected and included.”

The plan would mean the end of the Maduro regime and the likely withdrawal of his largest competitor.

Credit: Elizabeth Melimopoulos / Getty

Since early 2019, Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis with two clashing sides vowing to take back control of the country. Millions of people have poured into the streets in support of one side or the other – often resulting in violent flare ups that have left thousands dead.

But could the promise of zero sanctions against a struggling economy be enough to make the plan work?

Credit: @carmses_in / Twitter

The US and EU would then lift sanctions on the current leadership. Broader sanctions on the country’s oil business would be lifted after all foreign forces had left the country. All sanctions would be lifted after free elections, to be held within six to 12 months.

“The basic outline is simple: We call for a transitional government that would govern for nine to 12 months and hold free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday. “The United States will recognize the result of a free and fair election no matter which party wins.”

The proposal comes five days after the U.S. indicted Maduro and top members of his government and army for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Department of Justice indicted Maduro and many of his right-hand men on a range of charges, all but guaranteeing they will not be part of any potential democratic transition in Venezuela down the line.

The indictment for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to corruption to narcoterrorism puts the spotlight on the horrendous acts Maduro and his associates have allegedly perpetrated.

In addition to giving the U.S. additional leverage over Maduro, the indictment also acts as an incentive for the 14 individuals charged along with him — and others close to him — to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The plan has his critics on both sides of the aisle.

Skeptics of the plan said it provided few incentives for the incumbent officials to give up power, days after they were charged with serious offences and multimillion-dollar rewards put on their heads.

The ultimate focus must be on alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and though it will not be eased by these recent actions alone, the only way forward is to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with Maduro.

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno “Jokes” Women Report Rape Only When Assailants Are Ugly

Things That Matter

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno “Jokes” Women Report Rape Only When Assailants Are Ugly

THE GUARDIAN / INSTAGRAM

It’s a tale as old as time and one with a well-overdue expiration date.

Once again, victims– namely women– of sexual assault are being shamed into silence because of jokes that have not been well thought out. This time, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno is the mouth behind the quip that deserves no laughs.

In a recent speech delivered in the city of Guayaquil, Moreno claimed women-only complain about assaults when the perpetrator is unattractive.

Speaking to investors in the port city, Moreno appeared to defend men accused of harassment saying “at times, with harassment, they torment ugly people. That is to say, that the harassment is when it comes from an ugly person,” he went onto add that “if the person looks good according to the standards, they tend not to think necessarily that it is harassment.”

Fortunately, the responses to Moreno’s disdainful comments were quick, unforgiving, and loud.

Women’s rights activist groups and other organizations quickly lambasted the already controversial president for his snide and noxious comments.

In a tweet posted to her Instagram account, Ecuador’s governing party congresswoman Soledad Buendía condemned Moreno, writing on Twitter that the president’s comments “justifies and reproduces violence against women. You can’t joke about harassment, rape, femicide, trafficking, sexual exploitation … Nothing justifies expressions that revictimize us!”

According to the Guardian, the Women for Change organization were quick to join in the conversation.

“It is not that everything now looks to women like harassment, it is that to machos like you it has never seemed bad to harass!” the organization tweeted.

Soon after the backlash hit, Moreno attempted to apologize.

In a tweet posted to his account, Moreno wrote an apology saying “In my comment about harassment, I did not intend to minimize such a serious matter as violence or abuse. I apologize if it was understood that way. I reject violence against women in all its forms!”

According to a comparative analysis published in the 2008 book Violence Against Women, 32.4% of Ecuadorian women interviewed aged 15-49 stated they had been physically or sexually abused by a current or former partner. Clearly, this is no laughing matter.