With an eye towards next month’s virtual DNC Convention, and a general election that is approaching 100 days away, Latino Victory Fund launched their “Latinos con Biden Battleground Charlas” tour in Texas yesterday. The program is a complement to a Biden for America program “Charlas con Biden” and a chance for Latino community leaders to reiterate why they are supporting the former vice president.
In the Hispanic community, “charlas” are spaces and venues where friends and family can come together and discuss important topics and issues. Given the nature of campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Latino Victory’s “Battleground Charlas” tour is completely virtual.
On Instagram Live on Monday evening, Latino Victory’s feed was handed over to Julissa Arce, a formerly undocumented American and best-selling author, who conducted the charla with Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, who ran for Senate in Texas this year. Arce and Tzintzún Ramirez represent a younger generation of Latina leaders with ties to Texas. Arce was raised in San Antonio, but she now lives with her husband in California.
Tzintzún Ramirez, who ran a very progressive campaign as a senatorial candidate, discussed her calling to politics. Though she had been a longtime organizer, the 2016 election fundamentally changed the way she viewed her role as an activist. At the time, she was six months pregnant and her husband was a Dreamer.
Following the 2016 election, Tzintzún Ramirez founded Jolt, an organization dedicated to building Latino political power in Texas. They have offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and are getting ready to open up in San Antonio. This year they have a goal of reaching 80,000 young Latino voters in the state.
Latino Victory was the first Latino organization to endorse Biden in the presidential primary. Biden struggled mightily in early primary states with the Latino constituency. In Texas, Sen. Bernie Sanders won 41 percent of the Latino vote, improving upon his 2016 margin by over 12 percentage points.
In the charla, Tzintzún Ramirez noted that Latinos in Texas are at a “critical breaking point” for a number of issues: immigration, healthcare, and the environment. “I believe it’s our time to reimagine what our state and country could be,” she said.
For Tzintzún Ramirez, the COVID-19 pandemic has truly exacerbated the differences between a Trump administration and a potential Biden administration. She pointed out that Trump initially referred to the virus as a hoax. In Texas, Latinos are disproportionately being affected through hospitalizations and fatalities from COVID-19. They are also facing steep economic hardship through job losses and a lack of access to healthcare.
Tzintzún Ramirez was emphatic about her commitment to supporting Biden. “I’m going to fight for him, and I’m also going to push his campaign to take stronger actions.”
She pointed out that progressive campaigning can work, and that DACA was the result of millions of young undocumented Americans calling the Obama administration to action after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act.
Both Arce and Tzintzún Ramirez highlighted that Latinos in the state of Texas are young. The median age of Latinos in the state is 11. It is also simply not enough to run a few ads a few weeks before an election and assume the electorate is going to be engaged. “Latinos come to vote when you speak to their issues and contact them,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.
On Tuesday, Biden for America is hosting “Las Comadres con Jill Biden” with Texas Reps. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia.
Photo: Cristina for Texas