Articles by: Alfonso Gonzales
This July 4, embodying the true values of civic democracy, Latino youth activists protested the anti-migrant mob that turned away 140 Central American refugees in Murrieta, California.
In 2008, 70% of the 10 million Latinos who voted in the U.S. election supported Barack Obama. But since that election, hope has turned to despair for many Latinos who still face racial profiling, deportation, and family separation under an administration they enthusiastically supported. In exchange for their loyal votes, Latinos are expected to join what we can call the Obama–Democratic Party Consensus on immigration reform. This consensus requires that the president and his party build a more efficient immigration-control apparatus, while Latinos are expected to settle for symbolic appointments in government.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2010 edition of NACLA Report on the Americas.
The assumption that few Latinos would participate in the U.S. midterm elections underestimated their political sophistication, as they were simultaneously disappointed with the Democrats, but also inclined to vote for them as a defensive measure against the virulently anti-immigrant Republicans. Despite economic woes, and no progress on immigration reform, Latino voters came out in much greater numbers than predicted. It is this grassroots and sophisticated organizing power that this newest edition of NACLA Report on the Americas examines.
Salvadorans in the United States helped create the conditions for a free, fair, and transparent election—particularly by undermining right-wing fear tactics in El Salvador that aimed to scare voters away from Funes by suggesting that his election would incur the United States’ wrath. The process provides many important lessons for Latin American countries with large U.S. populations, and immigrant rights activists should also take this page from the FMLN's playbook.