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Latino Rebels interviews Federico Peña About “My Country, My Vote”

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Tomorrow, the Republican Presidential candidates will gather in Boulder, Colorado for their third debate. Before the debate, activists will hold a rally to stand against anti-immigrant rhetoric. From the “My Country, My Vote” website:  “A group of Latino leaders — including former Denver Mayor/U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Energy Federico Peña and over sixty state, local, and national nonprofits — has been galvanized to host a massive rally at 5pm at Farrand Field on the college campus, just before the debate.”

Marlena Fitzpatrick from Latino Rebels interviewed Peña about the event – and why he organized it. The full interview is here and worth a read. Some key excerpts:

MF: And that is a great segue to get into Rebeldes territory: The other way we build community is voting. Tell me about this initiative you are working on, My Country, My Vote.

FP: A few months ago I started getting upset at the anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric coming from a number of presidential candidates, and I did not think that there were enough people pushing back and correcting the many statements these candidates were making. So about a month ago I announced, in front of a Latino group here in Denver, that I was going to lead a rally at the next Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado on October 28.  We will have thousands of people show up. We’re going to have a huge rally and we’re going to speak out against this anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric. But more importantly, we are going to ask people to channel their anger into voter registration. The one thing we can do to change the rhetoric is to gain political power by taking people out of the office who are anti-immigrants, and supporting people in or for office who are supportive of comprehensive immigration reform. We’re asking that the next president and the next Congress, within the first 100 days, pass comprehensive immigration reform. That connection of the political power in anger is there. It doesn’t help us if we sit around, grow and remain angry all the time. We have to take action. The most important action we can take is registering to vote. We have millions and millions of Latinos in this country who are not registered to vote. We need to get involved in the elections to change the power structure of this country.

MF: I think it’s brilliant to mobilize people to register to vote. However, I need to ask: is immigration the trigger for voting, or are there other more important issues we need to consider? What are the other issues we need to weigh on when voting?

FP: There are a lot of other issues like jobs, healthcare, education. But the emotional issue regarding the Latino community is this attack on us. Oftentimes emotions are the best motivators. Once registered we can all assess the other issues — like education, jobs, healthcare and the other things — that are also important. But we need to, in my opinion, capitalize on these emotions. Those emotions are anger, disgust. It was a proven system in California when laws were being passed. Latinos registered to vote and soon thereafter it changed the landscape. My hope is that this will inspire Latinos all over America to do the same thing.

Check out the full interview here – and for more info. on tomorrow’s event, check the “My Country, My Vote” website, also on Facebook  or follow the #MyCountryMyVote on Twitter.