politics

Bernie Sanders Taps San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz As Co-Chair For Presidential Campaign

@CarmenYulinCruz / Twitter / berniesanders / Instagram

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan has agreed to be one of four national co-chairs of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign. The news comes just days after the 77-year-old senator announced that he was running for president again after a bitter defeat in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The support from Cruz is huge news in terms of name recognition as the Democratic field of candidates keeps growing.

With the backing of Sanders,Cruz brings diversity, a progressive agenda and a well-documented opposition of President Donald Trump.

Some forget that real power stems from people’s will to change. @BernieSanders understands that a movement for financial, social, racial & environmental justice starts from the bottom up. Honored to co-chair with @ninaturner @RoKhanna and Ben Cohen the political revolution. pic.twitter.com/opss7vnwes— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) February 22, 2019

Cruz agrees with Sanders on various platform issues like education, LGBTQ+ rights and environmental issues. She hopes that teaming up with Sanders will also shed light on issues that have plagued Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit back in 2017.

Cruz publicly clashed with President Trump in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, criticizing the administrations lack of response to the disaster. An estimated 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria including the weeks after the storm hit.

“This is personal. The president came and threw paper towels at us,” Cruz said in an interview with NBC News. “He continues to disregard the pain of people from Puerto Rico.”

While Puerto Ricans on the island cannot vote in the general election, despite being legal U.S. citizens, they will be able to vote in the primaries. With the support of the San Juan Mayor, Sanders is sure to gain some support in Puerto Rico.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another Democrat running for president, joined Sanders in co-sponsoring legislation to help with the Puerto Rico’s $73 billion debt that it still deals with today.

“When it comes to Puerto Rico, I am confident that Bernie will help us usher a new path towards the resolution of many of the issues facing Puerto Rico including, but not limited to, a new relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States ensuring that with every step we forge a path to guarantee that all voices are heard and the will of the people of Puerto Rico sets forth the agenda.” Cruz said in a statement.

Having Cruz in Sanders’ corner means a high-profile Latina will have a voice in his campaign.

She has been one of Trump’s fiercest critics. Now San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is one of 4 natl campaign co-chairs for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. https://t.co/twu75av1v6— NBC Latino (@NBCLatino) February 22, 2019

One of the biggest criticisms of Sanders campaign in 2016 was his lack of support from voters in the Latino and Black communities. While he did receive support from younger Latino demographics in some states, Cruz’s support might play a big role when it comes to states like Nevada and Puerto Rico.

Cruz doesn’t expect to just be talking to primarily Latino groups for the campaign. She said there will not any “walls that keep us in our corner because that will be ineffective.”

Cruz joins what has already become an increasingly diverse group backing Sanders.

To defeat Trump we must build a team prepared to fight for economic, social, racial & environmental justice. That’s exactly what @ninaturner, @RoKhanna, @CarmenYulinCruz and @YoBenCohen have been doing their entire lives. I’m excited to announce them as campaign co-chairs.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 21, 2019

Joining Cruz as co-chairs of the Sanders campaign is Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D) and Ben Cohen, a co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The appointment of Khanna and Turner are significant not only because of the progressive policies they bring but the diversity they present to Sanders campaign.

Sanders recently made headlines with his campaign manager pick. The Daily Beast reported that Sanders had hired Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union, for the head position. Shakir is likely to be the first Muslim American to head a major presidential campaign.

While the 2020 elections are still more than a year away, things are certainly gearing up on the Democratic side. At this time, there are 14 confirmed Democrats running for congress.

READ: Here’s Why You Need to Know Rep. Adriano Espaillat, The First Undocumented Immigrant in Congress

The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here's What You Should Know Right Now

Politics

The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

Juan Barreto / Getty Images

It’s been over a month since the Venezuelan National Assembly enacted a part of the constitution to declare National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela setting off what has been a tumultuous last few weeks. Guaidó has been challenging the legitimacy of sitting President Nicolás Maduro which has resulted in a standoff between the two leaders. The clash of powers and U.S. involvement has plunged the already crisis-ridden country into new depths of chaos. So how did we get here and what’s next for Venezuela?

Government and opposition forces are struggling for political power in Venezuela, a country facing economic chaos and widespread shortages.

CREDIT: Getty Images

After President Maduro was sworn in to a second six-year term in office in early January, Guaidó, 35, declared himself acting president shortly after. By directly challenging Maduro, Guaidó set off a chain of protests and political opposition that have rattled Venezuela.

The country is in the midst of a growing economic crisis that has created a humanitarian crisis. Millions of residents are unable to afford food and medicine which has made the Maduro-Guaidó situation more dire. This downfall began during Maduros’ first term as president back in 2013 as the Venezuelan economy turned south.

These rapidly worsening conditions have led to many Venezuelans leaving the country. Since 2015, more than 3 million have left in search of better opportunities elsewhere, primarily in bordering Colombia.

Residents have taken to the streets over the last month to show their displeasure with Maduro.

CREDIT: Jorge Silva / Reuters

Protests have been occurring in Venezuela more frequently since Maduro was re-elected in January. Many call his re-election a sham due to many opposition candidates being barred from running or even jailed. Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly refused to recognize the election results, calling the election a sham and the presidency vacant. Under Venezuelan rule, since Guaidó is the head of the National Assembly, he took over as acting president in such cases.

The controversial election had many Venezuelans angry and looked toward a new voice. Guaidó, along with the U.S. and a number of other international leaders, say that Maduro isn’t the rightful president. While many are calling for Guaidó to lead, he still has very little power. To this point, Venezuelan forces have remained largely loyal to Maduro and few joined Guaidó’s attempt to take him down.

Even as people are killed and injured in the streets on Venezuela, Maduro has done very little to calm the situation and lead his people out of the crisis. While there are still some that support him, he is losing support as food and the need for medicine become critical issues.

The U.S. is getting involved in the crisis which has raised some questions.

CREDIT: @ISALEHAA / Twitter

The Trump administration was one of the first countries to come out in support of Guaidó, calling him the rightful president. The U.S. has since placed multiple sanctions on Venezuela’s oil reserves. Some have criticized the U.S. involvement with the crisis in Venezuela due of the history the U.S. has had meddling with other countries wars.

President Maduro views the U.S. as a foe and over the weekend continued to refuse it’s delivery of aid, calling it an attempt to gain power over his country. Despite multiple sanctions and even a visit from Vice President Mike Pence on Monday, Maduro refuses to let go of his power.

Things have gotten so bad that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was detained after Maduro didn’t like some of his questions.

Credit: Twitter/ChroniclesofAzu

Ramos and five other staffers were held for about three hours while interviewing President Maduro on Monday. Reports say Maduro objected to Ramos’ questions about the current political crisis and quickly cut the interview short. Government aides reportedly confiscated the network’s equipment and hold the team’s footage of the interview.

The situation demonstrates the immense pressure and scrutiny President Maduro is under. While Ramos and his team were later released, the action show a clear picture that Maduro doesn’t want to be shown as anything but good for the people of Venezuela.

Where does the country go from here?

Credit: @Techieappy / Twitter

There are many forces at hand in the Venezuelan crisis that include forces inside and outside of the country. The number of military officials leaving President Maduro keeps increasing as they join the thousands leaving for Colombia. The U.S. will continue to send aid and back Guaidó to send a clear message to Maduro.

The real tragedy here is the suffering of the Venezuelan people who are looking for food and aid while the crisis persists. Residents have been seen looking through trashcans for food and are looting stores in desperation. With a failing economy, a corrupt leader at the helm, and rapidly growing inflation, change is desperately needed in Venezuela.

Venezuelans face a tough decision between protesting and exposing themselves to Maduro, stay in hiding, or joining the millions of Venezuelans who have already left the country behind.

READ: Protests Continue In Venezuela As Opposition Forces Try Bringing Down Maduro

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