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Puerto Ricans in key Pennsylvania state want to defeat Trump


Despite the importance of your vote, there are many challenges Puerto Ricans face when voting in the United States: “It's not that we don't have a voice. It's that they don't give us the right tools ”.

By Milli Legrain

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania.– Ana Celia Ortiz has it clear.

On November 3, this Puerto Rican born in Hato Tejas, Bayamón, will vote as a Democrat as she has always done.

She says she prefers to be called "Ana," who came to the United States in 1957 as a "young lady," and that, throughout her life, she has held various trades.

For a time she was a teacher.

He also came to work on the line of a poultry processing plant, where he "plucked the feathers out of the chicken", but left because

"they paid a pittance



Among all the jobs he held, he once earned less than the $ 7.25 minimum wage in Pennsylvania, one of the lowest in the country.

[Follow our coverage of the 2020 presidential elections]

Ana spoke with Noticias Telemundo from the window of her apartment, in a housing building subsidized by the federal government.

He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city where at least 40% of the population is Hispanic, in a state where Donald Trump won by just 47,000 votes.

That is why the vote of people like Ana is key in these elections

: another 500,000 Latinos, out of a total of one million who reside in Pennsylvania, will be able to vote this year.

Despite the importance of your vote, there are many challenges Puerto Ricans face in casting their vote in the United States.

In fact, they are more likely to vote in elections in Puerto Rico than when they arrive in the United States.

Research published in 2016 by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY University in New York indicates that

Puerto Ricans vote less than whites and blacks in the United States

, but in the same proportion as other Latino voters.

Puerto Rican Ana Celia Ortiz at her home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.Milli Legrain

In 2016, 49% of Latinos in Pennsylvania were Puerto Rican.

And being US citizens, everyone who has reached the age of 18 and lives in one of the 50 states, that is, outside the island of Puerto Rico, has the right to vote in the presidential elections.

[This has been the record of candidate Joe Biden in immigration]

And although Puerto Ricans have been established in the area for decades, in 2017, their community grew again with the thousands who arrived in Pennsylvania fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

After Florida, it was the state that received the most evacuees.

This group of voters, who generally vote Democratic, represents a strong electoral potential that could not vote four years ago

, when Trump unexpectedly snatched the victory from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in that state.

It was the first time a Republican had won the presidential election since George Bush Sr. in 1988.

A different political system

A few blocks from Ana's apartment, Cesario Ramos, also a Puerto Rican, still doesn't know who to vote for.

Sitting at the door of his house, which he bought in 1983, he is surrounded by two friends of his, a Democrat and the other Republican, trying to influence his decision.

Ramos works as a transporter for the Amish community, established in rural areas and who for religious reasons choose not to use motorized vehicles.

[Puerto Ricans who fled the hurricane find a home in the Amish community anchored in the past]

His job keeps him busy "until 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and sometimes 11 at night", but even so, his business is only "regular", with an income of only about $ 1,200 a month. .

Puerto Rican Cesario Ramos, on the left, at the door of his house, a few blocks from Ana Celia Ortiz's. Milli Legrain

In 2008, Ramos says he voted for "el moreno", to refer to then-candidate Barack Obama.

And in November he says that "maybe I vote for Biden."

Although he has been in the United States for 50 years, what

Ramos is clear about is that in Puerto Rico, he is “Popular”, referring to his affiliation with the Popular Democratic Party

, a left-wing party founded in Puerto Rico in 1938 by the writer and journalist Luis Muñoz Marín with the motto "Bread, Land and Freedom".

“That is very common.

And in fact it can lead to confusion, ”says Mari Carmen Gutiérrez, also a Puerto Rican, who runs a program for the non-governmental organization Casa in Action, to mobilize the Latino and black communities to vote in Pennsylvania.

They have contacted more than 300,000 voters since mid-July and spent more than $ 400,000 on pro-Democrat digital ads.

[Mike Pence continues his campaign despite four of his advisers testing positive for COVID-19.

Why is this a risk?]

"In Puerto Rico when it comes to voting, voters pay a lot of attention to colors," he


And although the Popular Party is a left-wing party with a red flag, in the United States red is the color of the right-wing party, the Republican Party of President Donald Trump, Gutiérrez explains.

She is fresh from Puerto Rico, excited to vote for the first time in a United States election.

In the absence of information

With the election just days away, why are some still undecided?

Some reasons are a lack of information, or sometimes misinformation, about the candidates.

Or also because, until recently, electoral campaigns generally did not seek the vote of Puerto Ricans.

Emily Domínguez, 27, a Puerto Rican mother, has just returned "from the island."

Born in the United States, she prefers to speak English.

She is not determined either.

He knows that Trump did not behave well with Puerto Rico.

But you don't know Joe Biden enough to commit to voting for him.

“I have to do some research,” she assured Dina Burch, the Casa in Action activist who knocked on her door.

[Tips to detect (and combat) electoral disinformation]

Héctor Vázquez, another indecisive Puerto Rican voter shared his story with Noticias Telemundo on a visit to Lancaster in mid-October.

Vázquez recently lost his job.

He lives with his wife and two children in Reading, a city with 67% Hispanic in Berks County, where Donald Trump won with a minimum margin of victory: 17,925 votes.

Vázquez now works as an assistant mechanic.

He doesn't like President Trump's rhetoric, but he has health problems and is afraid of losing his access to Medicaid, the public health insurance for low-income people, if Biden wins.

What he doesn't know is that Biden is looking to expand Medicaid and it is Trump who is looking to cut it.

This confusion between parties, added to the low income of the voters, the language barrier and a low educational level, are

enormous challenges that affect some communities of Puerto Rican voters

The fight between democrats and republicans to win the last vote grows

Oct. 25, 202000: 18

And there is yet another obstacle.

“Some decide that they don't want to vote for the president of the United States but rather for an independent president of Puerto Rico,” said José Luis Pérez of Latino Justice PRLDEF, an organization that advocates for the civil rights of Hispanics.

"Since they cannot determine the future of the island, they prefer not to vote."

Pérez explains that the Puerto Ricans in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico who move to the


prefer not to vote because they feel that the island lives as a colony of the United States, that it should be their own country, and as such, they should be able to choose their own president.

Of course, Latino Justice insists that Puerto Ricans have at least the right to receive their ballot in Spanish.

The importance of the vote

The root of these problems, say Casa in Action volunteer activists, is the way that different campaigns, from both parties, have tried to win over the Hispanic vote over the decades.

"Traditional campaigns often say to the Latino: 'Vote for such a candidate.'

And it is over.

Without taking the time to explain why your vote is important

, ”says Kareena Ríos, a Lancaster raised to Puerto Rican parents.

He believes so much in the importance of elevating Latinos to government positions that he decided to run for his county board of education.

She is the second Latina to reach that position.

Under that position, he supervises more than 10,000 students.

Of them, 60% are Latino.

["We must ensure that he is not reelected": Obama campaigns for Biden in Florida and criticizes Trump]

At 22 years old, Sobeida Rosa, an Afro-Latina of Dominican and Puerto Rican parents, a voter and a Casa in Action volunteer, also wants to improve the system.

“It's not that we don't have a voice.

It's that they don't give us the right tools


The system is designed to keep us out, so that we don't know anything. "

Even so, the electoral participation of Puerto Ricans in the United States grows with each election.

A study by the University of CUNY suggests that although in 2000 46% of Puerto Ricans of voting age exercised this right, in 2012 that number rose to 53%.

Boricuas to power

One factor that can help mobilize Pennsylvania's Puerto Rican voters in this election is their growing turnout in local elections.

After Eddie Moran was elected to the mayor of Reading a year ago, Manny Guzmán, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, is now running for the Pennsylvania state congress there.

[Trump thought about swapping Puerto Rico, a "dirty" and "poor" country, for Greenland, says former DHS official]

And, if elected in Lancaster, Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, Janet Díaz, will be the first Latina to serve in the Senate in that state.

Diaz is confident that "the Latino vote will make Lancaster County Democratic again" in November.

But Pennsylvania, he adds, "I don't know!"

Janet Díaz will be the first Latina to join the Senate in the state of Pennsylvania.Milli Legrain

Despite the challenges, Mari Carmen Gutiérrez of Casa in Action is confident that Puerto Ricans will come out to vote and that they will support Biden's plan for Puerto Rico.

On its website, the Democrat's campaign even lists Reading as a priority by name.

The plan includes rebuilding the electricity system that collapsed after María's passage

, a relief plan for the island's millionaire debt, and forgiving loans from natural disasters.

That is what María Laviena agrees, a volunteer activist for Make the Road-Pennsylvania, an organization that fights for workers' rights and promotes the Latino vote in favor of Biden and other Democrats in cities like Reading and Allentown.

[Trump approves $ 13,000 million in aid to Puerto Rico for the 2017 hurricane a few weeks before the elections]

In this election cycle, her organization has made 1.25 million calls and sent a million text messages, far more than four years ago when Maria voted for Trump.

He thought then that, being a businessman, he would know how to run the country.

But when the hurricane passed, he regretted it.

María Laviena, volunteer activist for Make the Road-Pennsylvania, an organization that fights for workers' rights and promotes the Latino vote for Biden.Milli Legrain

“Trump got together a group of people in San Juan and threw rolls of paper towels at people

, who liked him because there was so much need.

And I didn't hear from my mother for a month… ”, says María.

Now she wonders: "Does a president who went to make fun of my country and my people deserve the vote of a Latino?"

Have you had or witnessed problems voting?

Report them!

Send the word VOTE on WhatsApp at 1-850-909-8683, tell us about your experience and Noticias Telemundo, together with the Electionland and ProPublica journalists network, will investigate you.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2020-10-27

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