A passionate advocate for farmworkers, that’s what Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wanted to leave the audience thinking about at the Democratic National Convention.
“I threw away the speech,” Villaraigosa told the audience as he addressed a crowded room of Hispanic advocates at the Latino Leaders Network luncheon Tuesday. Before the speech he gave a preview to reporters and spoke of his grandfather who came from Guanajuato, Mexico.
“My grandfather came 100 years ago with a shirt without nothing. Without money,” he said. “He came because there was this American dream and he created a great life.”
He also took hits against the Republican Latino speakers despite saying that Marco Rubio and Susana Martinez gave eloquent speeches. His relative message is that they’re on the wrong side of the platform. He added that they’re out of touch with Latinos and their humble origins.
When he invited the DREAMers to come on stage with him that was even more of a reason for him to incite applause.
Yet, whether some considered it political posturing, Antonio Villaraigosa wanted to drive the point home that he comes with humility. At the age of 15 when he noticed the abuse farmworkers in the fields were facing, he said it was his responsibility to get involved.
The Mayor admitted it was only then that he started to learn a little bit of Spanish.
As if to remind everyone of where he’s from, he said: “Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.”
The translation means, “Tell me who you’re with and I’ll tell you who you are.” Villaraigosa then proceeded to thank the servers at the luncheon.
Despite the mayor’s charismatic allure, his choice of words is not off-target. Appearances from leading Latino civil rights leaders including famed advocate Dolores Huerta and Arturo Rodriguez of the United Farmworkers was a prime subject throughout the first day of the convention.
Huerta was Cesar Chavez’s right-hand woman during the boycotts of the 60s and 70s. Villaraigosa mimicked this symbolism throughout the speech and sparked enthusiasm among Latinos at the luncheon.
It’s the same euphoria organizers want to mirror for Obama’s campaign. Organizers of the farmworker movement are hoping to engage more Latinos by mobilizing organizers to get-out-the-vote heading toward November.
“We’ll shut down our organization for the last two weeks before the election to really focus in hard on this,” said Rodriguez. “To make sure, we get out the vote.”
Rodriguez’s organization is partnering with the Cesar Chavez foundation. They’re using the member radio stations to reach out to the Latino communities. Radio Campesina is one example. It’s the largest … based in California and Phoenix, Arizona.
The last two weeks from Election Day, Rodriguez said they would gather 100 volunteers to hit the streets and mobilize support for Obama.
“Radio Campesina is our way of informing people of bringing people on the station,” he said.
So confident, Rodriguez is of this movement that he even said despite the hype presidential hopeful Mitt Romney incited last week, his chances are slim among Latinos. He added there is no hope that any Republican is going to do anything for Latinos or immigrants in the United States. As a result, Latinos have more confidence in Obama.
“I think Latinos feel like they’re educated and they’re very understanding about what the situation is and they’re not going to be fooled by the Republicans in any particular way,” said Rodriguez.
He projects at least 10,000 new voters among the farmworker community.
Likewise, Huerta has been using her prominence among Latinos to standby Democrats. She told VOXXI that she’s also working ardently to get-out-the vote for Obama’s campaign. Huerta is heading toward several swing states including Nevada and Colorado in the coming weeks.
Afterwards, Huerta made an appearance with Antonio Villaraigosa. She made the audience cheer on: “Que Viva Villaraigosa!”
On his end, he was more than grateful for having a leading civil rights advocate on the stage with him. It brought him back to his roots, he admitted.
“I am not a shrinking violet when it comes to defending a community, of particular this issue of immigration,” he said. “An issue that I’ve been involved in since 15. From participating in the boycotts, leading the walkouts at my High school.”
He then added as a pitch to the Latino vote:
“You’re going to see energy and you’re going to see that Latinos are going to vote for Obama—approximately 70 percent support him. If that’s not support than I don’t know what is.”