Latino community lashes out at politicians

Latino political leaders and community activists met to discuss community issues and how they can bring more Latino voters to the polls on Election Day.

“We have to count as Latinos,” said Anthony Miranda, a former Assembly District 35 candidate and community activist. “Latinos are the majority, we have to get out there and vote.”

The political forum was held at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights on Tuesday, October 26 at 6:30 p.m. The forum panelists included: Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, a nonprofit and nonpartisan policy center; Roberto Perez, producer of The Perez Notes, a radio show; Marta Perez-Vazquez, former leader of the 2nd District in Queens; and Miranda.

Also present was Richard LaSalle, an attorney, who is running to represent District 13 in the State Senate. LaSalle was welcomed warmly by community members, speaking to them in fluent Spanish, shaking hands and smiling with those who spoke to him.

“Representatives for the local politicians tried to stop this forum from happening,” said Eduardo Giraldo, the forum’s coordinator and a former candidate for City Council District 21 seat. “It is not fair to the community. It’s not a form of democracy.”

Giraldo said there is a lack of “true Hispanic leadership” in the community. He said he organized the forum in search of “true Spanish leadership” within the community.

“We need to respect the community, be the voice of the community,” said Perez-Vazquez in response to a question from the audience, who inquired about the agenda of the politicians.

Perez pointed out that people are making a choice by not voting without even realizing it.

“When you don’t vote,” Perez said, “you vote.”

As the forum continued, Falcon said the community needed to organize to have their concerns heard.

“Policies for communities like ours are too important to leave to politicians,” Falcón said. “We have to challenge our politicians.”