Things That Matter

How Latinos Made History Across The Country During The Midterm Elections

On Tuesday, millions of Americans cast their ballot making their voices heard at the polling booth in what was one of the most divisive midterms in recent memory. For Latinos, issues like healthcare and education were some of the biggest issues and it showed. Early numbers show that Latinos came out in droves. Barriers were also broken on Tuesday as voters elected Latinos into office at record numbers in historically Republican districts. From the first Democratic Latina being elected governor in the U.S. to the youngest woman elected ever to Congress, Latinos made history across the country.

While the actual numbers of Latino votes won’t be out till all are counted, voter engagement was higher than the 2014 midterms and reached that of a presidential election.

CREDIT: Latino Decisions.

The final numbers from the 2018 election won’t be available for a few months, but absentee and early voting tallies show that Latinos voted in record numbers. There was an almost 120 percent increase in absentee and early ballots cast by Latinos compared with back in 2014.

“The net wave of the Democratic pickup is due entirely to strong support from minority communities who voted for Democrats.” Matt Barreto, a Latino Decisions pollster, said in a conference call. In an election eve survey by Latino Decisions, 73 percent of Latinos said they voted for a Democratic candidate. That could have been a huge reason behind Democrats taking back the House of Representatives by a tally of 222-196.

Latino voters made their voices heard in three key states; Florida, Texas and California. While Latinos couldn’t deliver wins to Democrats Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Andrew Gillum of Florida, they came out to support in huge numbers.

In Texas, Latinos requested 365 percent more early and absentee ballots than in 2014 and Florida saw a 129 percent increase. Those campaign losses were’t due to lack of Latino vote rather due to voter suppression and a higher Republican turnout this year. This shows how powerful the Latino vote can be when engaged and candidates focus on issues that they care about. While Texas and Florida were one of the bigger high profile races, many Latinas succeeded in other races across the country making history along the way.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.

In what was a landmark victory for women and Latinas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Anthony Pappas to become the youngest woman elected to congress at 29 years old. Cortez gained momentum for her progressive politics, including Medicare for all, tuition-free college, and the ending of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She will now be the one of the faces for the progressive side of the Democratic party as young voters have energized the base.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia have become the first Latina women elected to Congress in Texas.

While the state of Texas didn’t elect Beto O’Rourke, they did vote in the first Latinas from Texas to go to congress. Veronica Escobar will represent the 16th congressional district, taking the place of Beto O’Rourke. Sylvia Garcia will represent Texas’ 29th congressional district, which includes Houston and Pasadena.

Eleven of Texas’ 36 seats in the House of Representatives are occupied by Democrats. Of those 11 Democrats, two seats — soon to be four, with the addition of Escobar and Garcia — are occupied by women. Both women ran on platforms that included immigration policy reform and expanding affordable health care.

Michelle Luján Grisham was elected governor of New Mexico becoming the first Democratic Latina governor in the country.

History was made as New Mexico voters elected the first Democratic Latina governor in the U.S. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who made a name for herself as one of President Donald Trumps’s strongest critics on immigration, beat Republican Rep. Steve Pearce. The historic win flips New Mexico from red to blue for the first time since 2002. Grisham will replace Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who also made history when she became the first Latina governor elected in the U.S. back in 2010.

Catalina Cruz becomes first former ‘Dreamer’ elected to New York state Assembly.

Democrat Catalina Cruz will be the first “Dreamer” to hold office in New York. The Colombian-born “Dreamer” was raised in Queens after she came to the U.S. with her mother to escape the country and grew up undocumented.  Cruz will be the third “Dreamer” to serve in an elected office in the country. She plans to focus on affordable housing, immigrant rights and small businesses in her district.

The 2018 midterms showed how powerful the Latino vote could be and is a reminder of what is to come in 2020.

Janet Hernandez, Senior Project Manager at UnidosUS, says that this election showed how important the Latino vote is in key races across the country. “There was extremeness numbers in Texas that saw a 100 percent increase in multiple counties by Latinos and huge jumps in voter registration in Florida,” Hernandez said. “It’s very clear that Latinos rejected Donald Trump’s policy of hate and they elected Latino officials along the way.”

She says that her organization helped register new voters at numbers that matched presidential elections as a little over 81,000 Latino voters registered for the 2018 election. Of the 48,000 Latino voters that registered in Florida by UnidosUS, 52 percent are woman. Hernandez pointed out that 80 percent of Latinas are leading community campaigns in her organization and that was reflected in the midterm results. She says that one of the most encouraging things that came out the midterms was the rise in not only women running for office but Latinas that actually won races.

“We’ve been seeing Latinas elected to office at rates never seen before and that just shows that they’re not waiting for someone to lead them but they’re the ones knocking on doors and breaking barriers,” Hernandez said. “Latinos across the country are making their voices heard and if 2020 is anything like 2018, we expect to see even more Latinos leading the charge.”


READ: Latinos Are Expected To Make A Huge Impact During The 2018 Midterm Elections

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AOC Teams Up With NYC Mayor And Assembly Member To Get The Vacunabus To Those Who Need It

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AOC Teams Up With NYC Mayor And Assembly Member To Get The Vacunabus To Those Who Need It

The Covid vaccine has proven to be the most important tool in getting life back to normal. Yet, access to the vaccine is not the same for everyone across the board. Some community don’t have the same access as others and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing that in New York City.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is part of the team that has created the Vacunabus in NYC.

The Vacunabus is exactly what you think it is. The mobile vaccination center is going into hard-to-reach communities to create a more equitable distribution of the life-saving vaccine. Right now, the bus is focusing on a specific group of people that need the vaccine: food service workers and undocumented immigrants. After that, the bus will focus on the homeless community in an attempt to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“There’s 500,000 New Yorkers who work in restaurants and we want to find all of them who want to be vaccinated and make it easier for them,” Sean Feeney, co-founder of Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants — or ROAR, told CBS NewYork.

The mobile vaccine centers are an expansion of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first vaccination bus.

As American yearn for their lives to get back to normal, it is imperative that the vaccine rollout include as many people as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaxed mask restrictions for all fully vaccinated people. If you are fully vaccinated, you can now participate in indoor and outdoor activities in groups with no masks and no physical distancing. It is a sign that that vaccine is the only way for life to get back to normal. It is welcomed news after more than a year of physical distancing and mask-wearing.

“We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

It’s been a long quarantine but as the vaccine continues to roll out, we can all start to breathe a cautious sigh of relief. We are almost there.

READ: Ted Cruz Calls Fellow Senator ‘Complete Ass’ For Wearing Masks Indoors Per Health Guidelines

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At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

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At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

A massive protest movement that swept across Colombia seems to have paid off – at least in the short term – as President Ivan Duque says that he will withdrawal the controversial tax plan that sent angry protesters into the streets. However, the protests claimed at least 17 victims who died during the unrest and hundreds more were injured.

Now that the president has withdrawn the controverial bill, many are wondering what’s next and will they have to take to the streets once again.

Massive protests claimed the lives of at least 17 people and hundreds more were injured across Colombia.

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw a controversial tax plan that they say unfairly targets the most vulnerable Colombians.

Isolated vandalism, clashes between police and protesters and road blockades occurred in several cities on Saturday, and riot police were deployed in the capital.

Rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rights groups alleged up to 17 deaths occurred.

After a week of protests, the government has shelved the controversial plan.

Faced with the unrest, the government of President Ivan Duque on Sunday ordered the proposal be withdrawn from Congress where it was being debated. In a televised statement, he said his government would work to produce new proposals and seek consensus with other parties and organizations.

President Duque, in his statement, acknowledged “it is a moment for the protection of the most vulnerable, an invitation to build and not to hate and destroy”.

“It is a moment for all of us to work together without paltriness,” he added. “A path of consensus, of clear perceptions. And it gives us the opportunity to say clearly that there will be no increase in VAT for goods and services.”

The tax reform had been heavily criticized for punishing the middle classes at a time of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The government introduced the bill on April 15 as a means of financing public spending. The aim was to generate $6.3 billion between 2022 and 2031 to reignite the fourth largest economy in Latin America.

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