Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > The President and Presidential Contenders Issue Statements about Cinco de Mayo: Who’s really in touch with the Latino community?

The President and Presidential Contenders Issue Statements about Cinco de Mayo: Who’s really in touch with the Latino community?

LatinaLista — Sixty-four percent of the Hispanic population is comprised of people of Mexican ancestry. That’s 9 percent of the total population or 28.3 million people.
It’s not a big mystery as to why Mexicans comprise the largest part of the U.S. Latino population — proximity to Mexico and the long history of cross-cultural dependence. As most Mexican-Americans like to say: “I didn’t cross the border. The border crossed me.”

With today being Cinco de Mayo, a celebration that has taken a life of its own in the United States (because it’s not highly celebrated in Mexico like in the U.S.), it’s natural that the day is acknowledged by our leading politicians.
After all, no one wants to appear insensitive or out of touch with 64% of the Latino population. Yet, it’s one thing to issue a statement that is puras palabras (all words) and another that says something that actually touches on the realities of today’s Latino population.
During these times when U.S.-born Latinos are caught up in the vile frenzy targeting Latino undocumented immigrants and suffering from a variety of social ailments ourselves that threaten the real future advancement of Latinos, it’s time to go beyond just polite words and start outlining plans that address the needs of U.S. Latinos.
Latinos are on track to be the largest demographic in the nation but if today’s numbers are any indication, it won’t be a good future for the nation or especially for Latinos.
Today, keeping in mind that Mexican-Americans are largest segment of the Latino population, —

  • 25.7 is the media age of Mexican-Americans
  • 1.2 million (out of a total of 28.3 million) have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 23% live in poverty.

There does have to be change for the Latino community. It’s easy to wag a finger and say it’s the fault of those Latinos who don’t want to improve themselves, and it wouldn’t be wrong. Yet, not everyone can fix their own problems.
Intervention is needed and soon.
Below are the press releases issued by the President and the leading political contenders. Without any analysis or interpretation on my part, I submit the following for review.
From such routine, basic press releases can we get a feel just how in tune a person and/or his/her campaign is to the needs of the Latino community?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Yet one thing is certain — there has to be an acknowledgement that the Latino community is complex and not everyone has just arrived, nor do they all speak Spanish.
Once that’s understood by the political parties and politicians then real change can start happening. I invite you to read the following press releases and see who really has a plan for the Latino community and who is no mas hablando (only talking).

President George Bush:

I send greetings to those celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is a joyful day in Mexican history and an important milestone in the history of freedom. On May 5, 1862, an outnumbered band of Mexican soldiers defeated a large European power against overwhelming odds at the Battle of Puebla. Emboldened by victory and yearning for independence, Mexican patriots ultimately won independence in 1867. Today, we remember these heroic accomplishments and all those working to advance peace and liberty around the globe.
This holiday is also an opportunity to recognize the strong ties of family, economy, and culture that bind the United States and Mexico. Through a shared commitment to economic liberty and the universal right of freedom, the United States and Mexico continue to build a future of prosperity and opportunity for all people.
Laura and I send our best wishes. Que Dios los bendiga.

Hillary Clinton:

Today I join millions of Americans in the commemoration of the contributions that Mexican Americans make every day to our great country. And I pay tribute to the rich history of the Mexican people.
Cinco de Mayo marks the anniversary of the historic victory of the Mexican people over the French army during the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This day of pride, joy and celebration for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans has been embraced by people of all backgrounds as a tribute to our deep historical, cultural and economic ties to Mexico.
For the past seven years, we have had a president whose policies have been one of neglect and broken promises towards our neighbors to the south. Today not only marks an opportunity to recognize the many ways in which Mexican-Americans enrich our country with their culture and their contributions, but also an opportunity to recognize that we do indeed share common goals and challenges — including addressing the needs of working families and fighting growing inequality, safeguarding democracy, and securing our borders.
As president, I have four priorities for our hemisphere. First, my administration will work closely with our partners in the region to encourage effective democratic governance, the rule of law, and personal security for their citizens. Second, I am committed to helping to address the growing economic inequality within the nations of the Americas through expanded opportunity. Third, I will work with our neighbors to address the shared challenges of climate change and energy security. Fourth, I will work to enact comprehensive immigration reform that respects the rule of law, our immigrant heritage, and our values.
So as we celebrate all across the United States today, let us not forget that Cinco de Mayo is a day to appreciate and celebrate the diversity that makes America a stronger nation.

Barack Obama:

“As Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we’re reminded that while Mexico’s cultural traditions are an important part of who we are as Americans, the American dream is still out of reach for too many Latinos.
Only eleven percent of Latinos obtain a college degree, which is why we need to make college affordable for all. Nearly a third of America’s uninsured are Latino, which is why we need to provide universal health care for every American. And our broken immigration system works for neither the immigrant families who are being torn apart nor the workers who are concerned about unfair competition, which is why we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform once and for all.
So while I hope that all Americans are enjoying this Cinco de Mayo, I also hope that when the celebrations come to an end, we’ll take up the cause of coming together as Americans to solve our common challenges and put the American dream within reach for every family in this country.”

John McCain:

“Cinco de Mayo commemorates an important moment in the history of Mexico’s path to freedom. On this day in 1862, a small group of Mexican troops overcame overwhelming force to win the Battle of Puebla.
Today, we join together to remember the sacrifice that these Mexican patriots endured, as well as the struggles of all those around the world striving for freedom. We recognize as well the important friendship that exists between our country and Mexico, and celebrate the many contributions Mexican-Americans have made to our society, culture, security and economy.”

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  • laura
    May 6, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I apologize for perhaps being tiresome. But instead of their words about 5/5, let’s look at their past actions.
    On 5/1/06, Obama was one of two US senators to speak at a Mayday rally. The other was not Hillary Clinton. It was Ted Kennedy.
    I am not saying, vote for Obama and we’ll be all set. We still need to struggle very hard for some very basic fairness. – I am only saying, vote for Clinton, and we’ll be thrown under the bus at her earliest convenience.
    This is a quote from a piece written by attorney César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, published in “Z” magazine. This is about the immigration law signed by Bill Clinton in 1996.
    Why don’t we hear more about this from Latina/os? Who is calling Clinton to account for his anti-immigrant law?
    “In 1996 a Republican-controlled Congress combined with a Democratic president to pass the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) (…) IIRAIRA contained three provisions that gave state and local police agencies the authority to perform some immigration functions. One clause lets the Attorney General enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to allow the state and local police to be trained by federal immigration officials to investigate, apprehend, and detain non-citizens suspected of being deportable. A second provision gives the Attorney General the power to waive the training requirement of the first provision if a “mass influx” of immigrants requires an immediate response. The last of the three clauses bans states from withholding information about an individual’s immigration status from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE—at the time, the INS).”

  • Frank
    May 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Will the day ever come when Latino-Americans ever just think of themselves as Americans and not mostly as an ethnic group? I doubt it! There is a tribal mentality at play here and seems to have imbedded itself deep into their culture. It is these kinds of things that divide our nation as a society.
    As far as Cinco de Mayo goes, it really had nothing to do with the U.S., so I don’t even know why it is celebrated here. It should be celebrated in Mexico as it isn’t part of our history as a nation.

  • Irma
    May 16, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I am Mexican American, my father from Mexico, and both sets of grandparents from Mexico. Importance of May Day rally showup ? None in my view , if it is not backed up by a history of action supporting Mexicans.
    Clinton has a long history of doing things specifically for Mexicans and
    poor people ( a lot of us are) in general. So, I dont count it against her if she didnt show up at a
    May 5 rally. Since we also have the Sept independence day ( the more important day in my opinion) – maybe everyone will come to that one.

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