As Democratic presidential candidates brace for the caucus primary in Nevada, a state where the Latino vote is crucial, a group called Latinos for Bernie has been rallying in support of the social democrat senator with the core objective of “making Sanders a household name.”
Corina Vega, a volunteer with the Latinos for Bernie NYC group, told teleSUR that she and members of her group are supporting Sanders “because he's funded by us. By people like me.”
She says she agrees with “a lot of his stances, particularly those in political campaign reform, immigration reform, taxation, health care reform, education reform and climate change."
Vega added that for years the 74-year-old veteran politician has been “calling out politicians on their bullshit.”
Along with his main campaign promises on Wall Street, free education and poverty reduction, Sanders has also been clear on how he would tackle immigration and Latino issues in the United States.
The Feel The Bern website, which was translated by members of Vega’s group, says “Bernie Sanders sees Latinos as fundamental members of American society, and is aware of the unique challenges facing their community."
In particular, Bernie is concerned with discrimination against the group, ensuring fair compensation for work and addressing the root causes of income inequality and high unemployment among Latinos.
Sanders has been making a big push in recent weeks to counter Clinton’s lead in the polls on the Nevada caucus Saturday.
In fact, a Reuters poll Wednesday showed Clinton with only a 1 percent lead ahead of Sanders. Several other polls also show similar results, after previous polls indicated a big Clinton victory.
On Sanders' chances in Nevada this Saturday, Vega said she was optimistic. “I have hopes. I hope that we make a loud enough statement that forces the rest of the Latinos, Blacks, young, old, male, female to take a good look at Sanders.”
Many within the Latino population in the U.S. get their information from the media, Vega said, which has mostly been covering Clinton and Trump. “We turn on Univision and Telemundo at 5 p.m. and again at 11 a.m. and all you hear about is Clinton ... and Trump. Doesn't help that a lot of us are apathetic to this whole process.”
To counter that media narrative and lack of interest in Sanders and his campaign, Latinos for Bernie are mobilizing on the streets to get voters on board.
“We are working on making Sanders a household name,” Vega said. “We do a lot of street canvassing in Latino areas in NYC — Sunset Park, Washington Heights, Grand Concourse, Corona — you name it, we've probably been there."
The group is also seeking younger Latinos who grew up in the U.S. and encouraging them to convince their parents to go and vote. “Entire Latino households will vote for a single candidate, we just have to get them to vote for Sanders.”
Furthermore the group is carrying out “phone-banking,” Vega said, which involves calling up Latino business owners and employees to “provide information in Spanish regarding Sanders, his policies, voting registration etc.”
The group is even organizing “salsa dance parties in honor of Bernie Sanders.”
Vega’s mother is voting as well after some serious lobbying from her daughter. However, unlike Vega, she is not very optimistic.
“She's never voted her entire life. She questioned why I dedicated so much to Sanders and I excitedly, because she finally showed interest, responded. Thirty seconds into my response, she tells me, ‘You are wasting your time. And for what? Nothing is going to change.’ Then she turned back to flip the tortillas. Disappointing.”
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