Republicans underestimated the value of minorities… Who’s the loser now?

One look at the Democratic Convention 2012 and you could tell which party is more inclusive of all minorities

Once upon a time, Mitt Romney had a chance with minorities; the very same chance that President Obama had. Actually, he had a better chance. Latinos, Asians and other minorities closely following immigration issues had grown disappointed with the president. You see, Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform during his first campaign and instead he delivered more deportations during his administration than President Bush.

Republicans haaaaaaad a chance.

But during the course of the campaign, Republicans and Romney seemed increasingly eager to lose millions of votes, the same votes that ended up giving four more years to the incumbent.

What happened and how the campaign managers messed up so badly? Romney for America and the RNC did not correctly analyzed, strategized and launched a marketing and communications campaign customized for each particular segment.

As the Global Editor of Contacto Latino, this is what I experienced:
1. While both sides did almost nothing by way of advertising and true community outreach to minorities; Republicans and Romney seemed particularly bent on doing a terrible job with Latinos whenever they could. Some examples:
a)    Press releases that indicated Spanish on subject line that were, in fact, in English
b)    Bad or inaccurate  translations
c)    No response to op-ed invitations
d)    No response to advertising invitations
e)    Asking to run ads for free (as PR, not advertising)
f)    Little or no inclusion of minorities in campaign leadership
g)    Little or no budget allocated to doing business with the community
h)    Disregard (should I say disdain?) for minority media
2. (Romney) Calling 47% of Americans, millions of which are minorities, parasites.
3. (Romney) Mentioning his Mexican family as leverage to make himself pass as just another Latino.
4. (Romney) Proposing an immigration reform that only took into consideration legal immigration, while basically telling 11 million undocumented immigrants: “Screw you, you now have to self-deport.”
5. (Romney) Telling DREAMers that he will never approve the DREAM Act.
6. (Romney) Saying after the election that President Obama “bought” the minority vote with small tokens of activity, such as the deferred deportation for undocumented youth.
7. Trying to use Obama’s endorsement (was it?) by President Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa to scare Latino voters into thinking that the USA will become like Venezuela or Ecuador, underestimating Latino’s first-hand knowledge of how a socialist country or dictatorship actually looks and feels.

The Democrats campaign did not do much better in terms of media buys but President Obama benefitted the most of community outreach efforts to get out the vote and from doing something customers appreciate very much when being courted: not being insulted.

The day after election Republicans started changing their tone and their tune, even getting into the Latino serenading bandwagon as they saw that the only way to reclaim the White House is to go through the barrios (I can see them cringing in horror when they came to that realization) and they heard reelected President Obama speaking about immigration reform as top priority.

My message to Republicans, that is if they have not seceded: Better start working ya’ll, four years go faster than you imagine, and if President Obama finally delivers the twice promised immigration reform, you better hope it’s a bipartisan agreement or it’s pa’fuera with this party.

And, yes, when you come knocking at the door of the Latino community, it better not have the look and feel of a 1970s campaign. We are way past being happy with a bad translation and a few words of masticao Spanish. Latinos want and deserve top of the line advertising, marketing and communications. I think this election clearly demonstrated that much.

Los candidatos y los inmigrantes: dos pedos, nada sólido

Querido diario, no sé qué churretera tendrán los candidatos a la presidencia de Estados Unidos que a lo único que atinan últimamente es a tirarse unos peditos, de esos bien olorosos que todo el mundo voltea a oler, pero luego nada… No llegamos a nada. No es ya como hace cuatro años, que mi morenito me traía regalitos, hablaba de compromiso con los latinos, me mostraba el anillo de la reforma migratoria para sellar nuestro pacto, decía que me daría mi bebé el primer año de nuestro casorio. Y yo le creí, como tonta le conté a todos lo que Barack Obama haría por nuestra comunidad, les dije que deberíamos apoyarlo y él nos daría todas las comodidades, que nos trataría como familia. Creo que el poder de mi sumisión se le subió a la cabeza, que se emborrachó con autoridad y decidió mostrar quién es el macho en esta relación deportando a millones y sin cumplir ninguna promesa.

Hace poco lo encaré, le pregunté qué pasó y él contestó que era la suegra maldita, los republicanos, los que le habían puesto obstáculos. Al ver que no le creía, que le dije que me iría, escribió un memo al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional diciéndoles que solamente deberían deportar a los indocumentados con antecedentes penales. Vi que le hicieron venias, como que estaban de acuerdo con él, pero las deportaciones continuaron.

Continúe recriminándole, diciéndole que si quería que siga comprometida con él tenía que tomar cartas en el asunto, por lo menos salvar a los jóvenes indocumentados que habían crecido aquí, como el resto de los estadounidenses. Desempolvó el mismo discurso de hace unos meses y lo declamó tan lindo como habla él, pero las deportaciones continuaron.

Entonces sucedió un milagro. Las elecciones se acercaban y a Obamita le tocaba hablar en una conferencia de líderes latinos (NALEO). Entonces se sentó a escribir otra cartita y dio otro discurso y dijo que otorgaría protección de deportación a los jóvenes que cumplan con ciertas condiciones y que hasta les daría permiso para trabajar. Pero eso sí, tendrían que inscribirse nuevamente cada dos años, el programa no estaría disponible hasta dentro de dos meses y si él no continuaba siendo presidente, todo se podía ir al tacho. «Pucha diablos. Esto no es nada mas que un pedo líquido que se queda pegado a la piel pero no tiene función alguna, excepto hacer que estos muchachos afirmen públicamente su estatus migratorio», me dije y volteé a escuchar a Mitt Romney, el candidato que dice que es mexicano porque su papi nació allá; pero la verdad es que nunca vivió allá, y cuya familia regresó corriendo a los Estados Unidos apenas se les acabó la protección de la poligamia que gustaban practicar y habían exportado al sur.

Romneycito también se vio forzado a hablar del tema en la conferencia de NALEO. Y si bien es cierto que presentó toda una propuesta para los inmigrantes nuevos y los que están espera y espera de sus papeles, ignoró a los 11 millones de indocumentados que viven aquí desde hace años. Yo creo que a Mitti le gustaría una especie de Apartheid y hostigarlos hasta que toda esta chusma se auto-deporté de la desesperación de no encontrar cómo sostener a sus familias. Basta con ver quién lo apoya (la gobernadora de Arizona, Jan Brewer; el alguacil de Maricopa, Joe Arpaio; extremistas como el congresista Lamar Smith y los hermanos Koch) para saber que los hechos, y las juntas, hablan más fuerte que cualquier discurso.

Así que así estoy, querido diario, con dos pretendientes que no me convencen y solamente unos meses para tomar una decisión.

Como digo: esto es puro pedo y nada sólido. El ambiente político para los inmigrantes me huele muy mal.

Obama and the Latino community: Is the engagement over?

While the Obama camp launched its first ad in Spanish, Latino Republican members of Congress spoke of the many ways this administration has not delivered on promises made during the epic campaign of 2008 (and 2009, 2010, 2011 and, of course, 2012) and has in many ways hurt further a community that massively contributed to his victory against Senator Mc Cain.

Is the new US becoming the old Latin America?
“That could never happen,” I know most would say, as they boo me off the stage; but as an immigrant from Peru, I sometimes do feel the US is starting to look more and more like the Latin America I left and that the growth in Latin American countries, their renewed pride in their culture and economy, and what they have to offer the world, has transformed them making them look like the USA I found when I first came to this welcoming nation in 1988.

“President Obama’s policies have hurt all Americans, especially Hispanics, who work each and every day in pursuit of the American Dream. His agenda of an unchecked federal government and redistribution of wealth has put America on the path to becoming like the countries so many Latinos bravely left behind. The GOP remains committed to providing Latinos with a stark contrast: economic freedom to do and be most anything they could ever imagine,” said Congressman Raúl R. Labrador (ID-01).

And Congressman Bill Flores (TX-17) adds: “Under the Obama economy, we have had the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, and our nation suffers from a growing number of low-income families, high levels of poverty and high gasoline prices that are hurting family budgets. These issues have had and will continue to have an adverse impact on Hispanic families, and we cannot afford more of the same. Republicans have the answers with a clear plan to create jobs, bolster our economy, provide economic security and lower energy prices.”

The fact that President Obama was received at the Summit of the Americas last week with a list of regional complaints, led by the point that the United States has dropped the ball in its support for its backyard neighbors says a lot. What would happen if we actually go to war with Iran? Would we have to also battle its allies in Latin America?

You cannot show the same ring twice. ¡Por favor!
Politicians think they can take advantage of kind-hearted willing electorate and get away with it. Well, one thing is to be “nice” and a very different thing is to be “estúpido“.

“Does President Obama think Hispanics suffer from amnesia? He may think we have forgotten about his broken promises to save or create 3.5 million jobs, pledge to cut the deficit by half by the end of his first term, or make immigration reform a top priority during his first 12 months as President. Not even the most eloquent rhetoric in the world can hide the fact that this has been a failed Presidency with nothing but empty promises,” said Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21).

Chief complaint from the Latino community is Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the engagement ring we were shown by the president while campaigning. It has been four years of nothing more than adding insult to injury by keep on bringing up that precious, sacred almost, subject and re-packaging and re-promising, while deporting millions and leaving children orphaned stateside. If we add to that the higher percentages of Latinos going through unemployment and losing wealth during the past four years, you’ll have a group of people that is pretty much unwilling to give up the vote without very convincing arguments.

“President Obama’s record with the Latino community is lackluster at best and his actions during the last three years prove it. Latinos are interested in having a President who will advocate for lower taxes for small business owners, more economic opportunities for all Americans, and a President who unites the country not one who divides us. Latinos want results not unfulfilled promises,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18).

It is interesting to note that President Obama did hit all the right notes with the Latino community during his campaign. If only he had figured out this community is kind pero no perdona la mentira.

All I want for Hispanic Heritage Month is respect… y nada más…

Forget the proclamations, the speeches, the month-full of Latino movies. I don’t need to see one more person in Mexican costume, or hear politicians and corporate executives refer to Latinos as their “amigos”. Please don’t speak Spanish masticado only when it is convenient to your campaign; and stop sending mixed signals about your love/hate relationship with the Hispanic community.

Yes, it is Hispanic Heritage Month. The one month a year when everything is Hispanic and people get a quick review of the most palatable things of our culture.  Who doesn’t like nachos? What’s not to like about a nice fiesta? Ceviche, anyone? Those are the easy to do things in everyone’s list. Check, check… and check!!!

But, whenever it’s time to talk about real issues everyone gets uptight and leaves.

I see a double-standard here. Amigos por conveniencia es la cosa.

We (and they, the politicians, the corporate rulers) have memorized the facts. The good ones are used for certain occasions and the bad ones for others.

For instance, “Latinos are important, at more than 50 million; this is the largest fastest growing community… we need Latinos… (ehem, to pick up our crops, build our houses, clean up our messes…”

How come we are never mentioned together with the word “professional” is a mystery and probably has to do with our own internal branding.

Okay. So there’s an example, and believe or not, that was the “good” one.

Here comes the bad:  “But, wait, aren’t you all the undocumented, uneducated people who are stealing American jobs? Pa’ fuera.”

And so goes this very strange dialogue all year-long. The exception comes between September 15 and October 15. That’s when we get our special month all to ourselves and everyone has to “like” us.

Yay Latinos. Hooray for us. When this month comes around, I almost can hear people saying: “Let’s give them a distraction, something to feel good about between September and October of each year.”

But when it comes the time to dedicate resources and empower Latinos to create businesses, get to the top of the corporate ladder, have representation or hold public office. When is time to talk serious, deeply important business, the papel picado and la cerveza vanish.

And if it’s about making tough choices and putting on los pantalones on topics such as comprehensive immigration reform or the Dream Act… it’s “Adios Amigo… and remember: when the election cycle comes along, I’ll be back to string you around with empty promises and palabras, palabras, palabras… okay?”

But there is one thing to celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, and that is the fact that Latinos are now seriously realizing that smokes and mirrors, hand waving, nice speeches, and little celebrations such as HHM, mean nothing without true respect. We know and understand that without leaders this community will continue to be referred to as “illegals”, “Not Americans”, “Aliens”, the “help”… and we will continue to be treated as second-class citizens. We now can see through the people that court us every once in a while, when it’s convenient. And we are done with that.

We pay our taxes and contribute. We are productive and innovative. We are resourceful and creative. We are the future of this country and we will have a Latino president some day not so far away… and, who knows, it may be something like my fictional presidente, Plumbago Torres.

And that’s why all I want for Hispanic Heritage Month is respect… y nada más…