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Fernando Ferrer Delivers Remarks At The Democratic National Convention… Puerto Rican Delegate Lourdes Rios… A People's Democratic Platform… Hispanics Didn't Take Center Stage

Fernando Ferrer Delivers Remarks At The Democratic National Convention

July 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 FDCH / eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Political Transcripts by Federal Document Clearing House



[*] FERRER: I am a proud Democrat. Soy el hijo de padres Puertorriquenos.

My family came to New York City from Puerto Rico on the wings of hope and opportunity. We didn't learn about the American Dream from reading a textbook. We learned it by living it, by working hard and playing by the rules.

But today, that dream is in danger. Families work hard, but the rules seem stacked against them. They don't understand why we build firehouses in Baghdad and close them in Brooklyn.

We need a president who will bring hope to every American family. We need a president who'll fight every day to expand opportunity for middle class families, and those who want to work their way into the middle class, just like mine did. We need President John Kerry because he believes that we're a stronger nation when every family and child has the same opportunities that I had.

My friends, electing John Kerry is just as important today as electing John Kennedy was in 1960. Back then, I was ten, and every Sunday my family and I went to church and then to my grandmother's ground floor apartment on Tinton Avenue in the South Bronx for breakfast. And as the neighbors walked by the window, they would ask my father who he was voting for. And he'd tell them: "Kennedy." I asked him, "Dad, why are we voting for Kennedy?" And he said, "Because we're Democrats." I asked him, "Why are we Democrats?" And he said, "Because Democrats care about people like us."

I was only ten, but I knew what he meant. That's when I became a Democrat. Democrats care about people who work hard all week to spend time with their families; about people living their lives and working hard to do better.

So this election, if my young grandson Brendan asks me why I'm voting for John Kerry, I'll tell him, it's because I want for him the kind of America that made it possible for our own family to achieve the dream of America; an America where no one puts him in harm's way without a good reason; an America where no one is left behind -- our America, again.

Profile: Puerto Rican Delegate Lourdes Rios

29 July 2004

NPR: The Tavis Smiley Show

Copyright ©2004 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio.


According to most polls, the most effusive Hispanic support for Democratic candidates may come from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. But there is one problem. Though they are American citizens and serve in the US armed forces, Puerto Ricans are deprived of the constitutional right to vote in presidential elections, but they can vote in presidential primaries, and John Kerry was the clear favorite in Democratic polling. Here at the FleetCenter seated between representatives from Hawaii and Idaho is the Puerto Rican delegation. Our own Phillip Martin profiled one if its members in our final report on the Democratic delegates.

Unidentified Woman: Puerto Rico...

(Soundbite of cheers)

Unidentified Woman: Puerto Rico, you have 57 votes.

(Soundbite of cheers)


And if you look closely into their ranks last night as the camera zoomed in on cue, when it came time for Puerto Rico to cast all of its 57 ballots, you might have spotted one Lourdes Rios beaming proudly.

Ms. LOURDES RIOS (Delegate): Well, as a delegate, I'm here representing the Democratic Party, and we assent for John Kerry.

MARTIN: The 42-year-old first-time delegate is one of 58 from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Ms. RIOS: Well, I grew up on the west side of Puerto Rico. It's a town that's called Moca, and I represent two cities, which is Moca and Aguadilla.

MARTIN: Lourdes was selected as a delegate by Roberto Prats, the head of the island's Democratic Party.

Ms. RIOS: He's always looking for young people to represent Puerto Rico, which is good. It's a new generation that's coming up, and we are part of that new generation.

MARTIN: This daughter of the middle class says she was born with politics in her blood to parents who saw it as a way to right wrongs.

Ms. RIOS: If you want to be in politics, you have to feel it by heart. It's something that you need to know and you need to feel.

MARTIN: Listening nearby on the fourth floor of the convention center, veteran delegate Pedro Peters-Maldonado smiles approvingly.

Mr. PEDRO PETERS-MALDONADO (Delegate): Lourdes--she is going to be the next mayor of the town of Moca on the western part of the island.

MARTIN: Why are you convinced of that?

Mr. NELDINAVAL: Oh, because she's a hard worker and she believes in the democratic principles that we always have.

Ms. RIOS: I think every Puerto Rican needs to be involved in politics.

MARTIN: As with many Puerto Ricans, including those in this delegation, there's resentment that the sons and daughters of the island are sent to fight in Iraq in disproportionate numbers to their population but are not allowed to vote for a US president. Another issue that is a permanent feature of Puerto Rican politics is the conflict of the island's status. There is wide and varied support for a range of options, including statehood, outright independence and remaining as a commonwealth, which suits Lourdes and her candidate, Senator John Kerry, just fine.

Ms. RIOS: This is the best formula that has been doing the right thing for all Puerto Ricans since 1952. I belong to the party because I believe and I stand for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: When Lourdes Rios is not talking politics, she's out dancing with other members of Puerto Rico's delegation at a Boston nightclub. The city's made quite an impression on her.

Ms. RIOS: I love ...(unintelligible) I love that it's a very nice city, a very quiet city, so far, and I like everything. We're staying in a nice hotel, and I like it very much.

MARTIN: With her work here as a Democratic Party delegate nearly done, Lourdes Rios will return to the island to run for a seat in Puerto Rico's House of Representatives under the banner of her PPD, for the Popular Democratic Party. She says it will be a family affair.

Ms. RIOS: My husband also is involved in my political campaign. Your family has to be there so you can have office.

MARTIN: This first-time delegate is so steeped in Democratic Party and island politics, she says even her 11-year-old son is talking about one day running for office.

Ms. RIOS: I think he might be a politician. He's always with mommy in every campaign, so maybe he will be the next governor of Puerto Rico. Who knows?

MARTIN: I'm Phillip Martin in Boston.

SMILEY: You're listening to the TAVIS SMILEY from NPR.

A People's Democratic Platform

August 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Nation. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2004 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 0027-8378; Volume 279; Issue 4

by Jamin Raskin

Jamin Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington College of Law and a Kerry delegate to the Democratic convention, is the author of Overruling Democracy.

The Democratic Party should be the democracy party. Our platform should begin with a call for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing every American citizen the right to vote, to have the vote counted, to have the popular vote decide the election and to be represented in government.

In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court declared that "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," and that even when a state allows its residents to vote for President, state legislators can always "take back the power to appoint electors."

Moreover, we have more than 8 million disenfranchised and unrepresented citizens. In Washington, DC, 570,898 people have no voting representation in the Senate or House of Representatives, while 4,230,727 US citizens in the territories--Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands--have no voting representation in Congress and no vote in presidential elections. Nearly 5 million citizens have been disenfranchised because of a criminal conviction.

And with more than 11,000 electoral jurisdictions designing their own ballots and voting systems, all of our votes are in danger.

Hispanics Didn't Take Center Stage


August 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

In the Cold War days, Kremlinologists were obliged to analyze how party leaders lined up for the May Day parade in order to tell who was who in the ranks of power. Mikhail was in because he was standing next to Yuri, but Andrei was out because he was at the end of the line. And where's Yakov? Poor Yakov, probably sent to the gulag.

The USSR is no more, but we still have presidential nominating conventions. You can figure out who's in and who's out by when they get to speak at the podium.

The last Latino rising star was Henry Cisneros, who spoke in 1984 and 1988. The former mayor of San Antonio was so popular, so charismatic, smart and talented that the presidential nominee interviewed him for vice president. But by the end of 1988, Cisneros had fallen from grace after an extramarital affair.

Now that the Democrats have left Boston, it's time to ask if any Latinos have picked up Cisneros' mantle. That's an easy one, since only two Latinos were given prime-time slots.

Bill Richardson, the Mexican-American governor of New Mexico and convention chairman, came close to Cisneros' standing, but not quite. He was a credible candidate for VP running mate a few months ago. Richardson's speech had the right message of cultural inclusion, but fell flat sandwiched between two rousing speeches by the Rev. Al Sharpton and vice presidential nominee John Edwards.

Similarly, U.S. Rep. Bob Menendez failed to make much of a splash in prime time. If the Cuban-American congressman from New Jersey is a rising star, he's still barely noticeable in the twilight.

It's worth noting the difference between them and Barack Obama, the young black U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois. The charismatic Obama earned gushing reviews for his keynote speech. His photo landed on Page One across the country the next day. The buzz around Obama has Republicans quaking in a key state. Richardson and Menendez created no such buzz, nada.

After them came a sparse Latino lineup of nonprime-time speakers. There was Los Angeles City Council member Antonio Villaraigosa, who needs to become mayor before getting national attention. There was California congresswoman Hilda Solis, who introduced part of the party platform, the document that gets tossed after the election.

Any Latinologist report would be incomplete without noting those who fell off the radar. Where was California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante? Maybe his future was terminated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hottest Republican rising star.

And where was Ron Gonzales of San Jose, mayor of the nation's 11th-largest city? Poor Ron, probably sent to the gulag after an extramarital scandal of his own.

The Democrats definitely marginalized Latino politicians this year. Should we worry? Maybe not.

The Latino vote must be solid in order to win the attention of the candidates. It won't happen this year. Liberal, pro-Democrat Latino voters on the West Coast and Northeast will cancel out conservative, pro-Republican Hispanics in Texas and Florida.

After the fall of Cisneros, the late Frank del Olmo of The Los Angeles Times, wrote, ``I, for one, hope that Latinos apply themselves more to the gritty, day-to-day work of local politics rather than national campaigns. And instead of focusing on charismatic individuals like Cisneros, they should look to their own resources.''

Amen. And something tells me the Latino lineup at the Republican convention won't be any better.

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