Mexican American civil rights activist Dolores Huerta visited Phoenix Thursday to encourage Latinos to turn out and vote against presidential nominee Donald Trump.
At a press conference with several other Latino leaders, including U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego and State Representative Rebecca Rios, Huerta called Trump "bizarre" and "dangerous."
"Donald Trump has shown by his words and his actions that he doesn't have any respect for anybody," she said. "It's all about him. His approach is dictatorial. He's not a problem solver; he's a problem maker."
The event at the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center was the first stop on a multi-state tour backed by the advocacy group People for the American Way, for which Huerta, a 2012 Presidential Medal of Honor winner, serves as a board member.
Huerta called on Latinos to stand against Trump and all Republicans who have endorsed or pledged to vote for him or work to advance his agenda. In particular, she came down hard on U.S. Senator John McCain, who, despite initial misgivings, urged Republican leaders in May to stand behind Trump, saying it would be "foolish" to ignore the will of the voters who named the real-estate magnate their candidate.
"I like to remind people that Hitler was elected to office," Huerta said. "It wasn't a coup; he was actually elected."
With strong voter turnout, Latinos "have the power to decide the election," Huerta said, employing the now-iconic rallying cry she coined with Cesar Chavez in 1972 after they co-founded United Farm Workers: "¡Sí, se puede!" ("Yes, we can!").
Nationwide, 27.3 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Pew Research Center, which is more than any time in history. In Arizona, 21.5 percent of eligible voters are Latino. The demographic has a historically low turnout rate, however, and, in recent years, it has been on the decline. In 2014, only 27 percent of eligible Latinos weighed in at the polls.
Hoping to boost those numbers, Lizet Ocampo, director of People for the American Way, announced the launch of a new bilingual radio ad campaign.
The ads, which began playing on 105.9, 106.3, and 100.3 last week, feature a young adult, who uses a mix of English and Spanish, conversing with her Spanish-speaking mother.
"I'm scared of Donald Trump, Mom," the young woman says in the radio spot. "You're going to vote against him, right?"
"Of course, darling," the mother replies. "We can't allow him to win."
In order to ensure he and his Republican cronies don't win, she continues, "we have to make sure everyone goes out and votes."
"The Republicans are the ones saying Latinos are criminals and they don't support making college more affordable, right Mom?" the young woman says.
"And they want to cut benefits to Puerto Rico, take away Obamacare, and, to top it off, they are against increasing the minimum wage — my wage," the mother answers.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.