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IVN: Latino immigration activists mobilize against Republican Party

by Christopher A. Guzman

Tue, Aug 31st 2010

Over the weekend, 47 years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr. shook the conceptions of race in the United States at the Lincoln Memorial, Latino immigration activists boarded buses from California to Arizona in an attempt to mobilize the Latino vote against the Republican Party.

The effort, mounted by members of the United Farm Workers Union and Promise Arizona, aims to avoid a repeat of a low 25 percent turnout in the recent Arizona primaries for the upcoming midterms now less than 70 days away.

“The stakes are high this November. Even though a judge stopped the worst parts of SB 1070, our community is still feeling the effects, a press release from Promise Arizona said. “Bad policies continue to be proposed and extremist views are becoming more prevalent.”

“Now, more than ever, we need to hold our democracy true to the values of equality, liberty, and true justice for all. This weekend, you can learn how to fight back,” said their call to action that also included a plan to train more than 600 youth campaign volunteers and to conduct massive voter registration drives for November.

According to the local ABC television affiliate in Arizona, Latino activists are hoping to awaken a sleeping giant in their community much like the opposition to California’s Proposition 187 in 1994.  With high Latino opposition to the controversial measure, and despite an estimated 67 percent of Californians having supported it, the controversial proposition was killed in court and never took effect.

Reflecting on California’s Prop. 187 and Arizona’s SB1070, both of which Republicans heavily supported, activists in Arizona believe that the party has struck a bad cord with the Latino community.  Orlando Arenas, one such activist, said of the Arizona law that “the Republican Party that they can’t be treating the Latino community like that.”

Because of the Arizona law, new and registered Latino voters are probably going to flock to the polls and will be mobilized to send a national mandate reflecting their opposition.  Unlike the Prop. 187 days where Latinos organized against Republicans, however, the Latino minority opposed to the Arizona law will have a much more powerful force to reckon with in the form of the Tea Party.  Differing from the Hispanic base primarily belonging to Democrats, the Tea Party is not strictly composed of Republicans; rather, it also includes Independents.

This November, the two groups will most certainly spar to either keep the status quo or to change it. Latino voters will have immigration reform on their minds, an issue on which they trust Democrats more than Republicans.  Meanwhile, the Tea Party has more issues on their mind than just immigration reform, which inevitably raises their motivation to maximize their utility this fall.

It’s a matter of weeks before we find out which grassroots movement will win out over the other.

Low Turnout in Primaries Illustrates Importance of Voter Registration and Participation

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Contact Mary Moreno,, (202) 306-7951

Low Turnout in Primaries Illustrates Importance of Voter Registration and Participation
Promise Arizona hosting trainings for 600 volunteers to ensure fuller participation in general election

PHOENIX – Yesterday’s primary elections were decided by less than 25 percent of Arizona’s registered voters. Promise Arizona, a recently launched organization whose mission is to recruit, train and support a new generation of leaders from across the state to build a new Arizona, is stepping up its efforts to register voters and encourage voter participation to ensure November’s election more fully reflect the state’s voters.

This weekend, Promise Arizona is organizing three trainings called Live the Promise Team Trainings that will provide attendees the resources needed to launch effective local voter registration teams.  About 600 volunteers are expected at the trainings in Tucson and Phoenix. The volunteers will then form teams and conduct door-to-door voter registrations in underserved communities.

“Arizona has too many residents who election after election sit on the sidelines and let someone else decide their future,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona. “That has to change. We can’t have a truly representative government if a sizable portion of our population is not voting. When people don’t vote, they’re more vulnerable to being on the receiving end of discriminatory laws.”

Falcon said the passing of SB1070 has reenergized the community. Promise Arizona is touting voting as the best way to express frustrations and lose feelings of hopelessness.

“To everyone who is angry about the ugly, divisive events that have transpired in our great state this year, I say, ‘Vote!’ To everyone who wants a more unified, inclusive and welcoming state, I say, ‘Vote!” Falcon said. “Our vote is our voice. We will not be silent anymore.”

For more information on the trainings or Promise Arizona voter registration efforts, please contact Mary Moreno at or (202) 306-7951.

Paz day of rest!

Here we are in lovely (hot) Phoenix, AZ.  Today is our first day of rest!  What do you think that looks like for us?

Even though we have come from other states, we sense the urgency to help the Arizona community make lasting changes for their future!

October 4th is the last day to sign up to vote!  Time is flying!  I came to participate in the community. I can’t speak for my fellow “Paz Fellows”, but my sense is they feel the same way I do!  We came to lend a hand, to learn a little bit about what SB 1070 has done to the people of Arizona and to take these lessons home with us!

My mission has changed.  I am not just a guest helping out any more.  Thanks to the wonderful people at Promise AZ, I feel part of the community.  I can see in the Paz Fellows the sense of dedication and loyalty to a team of people, mostly young, who see a bright future for the Hispanic community!  The Promise AZ family has welcomed me and I want to be good brother and do my part.

I am sure of one thing:  I am going to come away from this experience with a lot more than I came with.  I am in the process of nuclear growth.  Part of that growth is doing everything I can to help this wonderful community!

Forget lounging by the pool!  I can see my life changing before me!  I can see parts me as if they were a seedling long lost, now starting to sprout.  Turning this sprout into a blossom is going to be a blast!

Hey, they tell me there may be room for other Paz Fellows! Promise Arizona is also looking for people who want to take a leadership role in shaping the next generation in Arizona.  Why not call us and we will help you find a place in this wonderful organization!

Promise AZ  623.336.5126

Prayers on top of Phoenix

I was with one of our young volunteers today in one of the mountain parks surrounding Phoenix!  We had made it to the summit of one of the hills surrounding the desert city and we were finally resting.  For me it was a brisk hike and I needed a lot of that!

After I caught my breath, I asked this future leader of the Latino people if he believed in God.  He told me he didn’t.  Not a problem, each of us has our own spiritual foundation.  Nor would I ever instill my spiritual beliefs on others!

Next, I asked my young friend what the most powerful thing was in his life.  Was it money, was it hate, was it hope, was it politics?  It took a moment for him to understand the philosophical question I was asking.  My Spanish needs improving.  He took a minute to think about it and his answer really surprised me!

“Brother love.” he said.

Wow!  Love, for our fellow man!

So we prayed.  To love.

We preyed that others will find love in their hearts instead of hate.  We prayed that all of those mis-guided souls who passed ugly laws in Arizona might find a small corner of love in their hearts for us.  We prayed that those who consider us their enemies might find peace within themselves and come to know none of us mean them harm!

Then I said a prayer to myself.  I thanked God I had the chance to spend time with so many great leaders of the Latino community in a spectacular desert park above Phoenix!

This story reminds me of one of my favorite poems, which I recite for you below:

“Amo el cantar del zenzontle

El Ave de 400 voces.

Amo, el color jade,

y el perfume nerrvante de las flores!

Pero amo mas, amo tu hermano el hombre!”

Nezahualcóyotl, philosopher, poet and ruler

That translates to:

Love the song of the song bird

the bird of 400 voices.

Love the color jade,

and the aromatic perfume of the flowers.

But love, love more,

your your fellow man!

To me, this is what the Paz Fellowship is all about.  This is a chance to show my brotherly love for the community, to be part of something much greater than myself, and to participate in the future of a wonderful people!