Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz gives her first speech in Spanish at a Bernie Sanders rally
In the final stretch of the Democratic Primary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz is once again taking the media spotlight with her support –in Spanish– for Bernie Sanders' campaign.
We've said it before: the Democratic candidate who can win over the Latino vote will be taking the support of the largest ethnic minority in the country.
While it's true that part of the Hispanic electorate in the United States is still Republican, a large part of them –especially the first-time voters– are waiting for a radical change in national politics.
A sign of this was the midterm elections, where the Democrats took over the majority in the House of Representatives, which now has new, young faces that represent the real heterogeneity of the country.
The best example is the Democratic representative from the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz.
The youngest congresswoman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives began her political career as a volunteer organizer for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign and was expected to be one of the first to announce her support for the Senator in his new crusade for the presidency.
In late October, Ocasio-Cortéz introduced the candidate at his biggest campaign rally yet just steps from Washington Square Park, and said the only reason she had "any hope" of launching her congressional race was "because Bernie Sanders showed that you can run a grassroots political campaign in an America where we thought it was almost impossible.”
The presence of one of the nation's most popular politicians on the Sanders stage seemed to be the secret weapon at a key time in the Democratic primary.
However, once the number of candidates had been reduced, the Democratic panel was again left without many of its representatives of color –especially after Senator Kamala Harris announced her retirement, and after candidates such as Corey Booker or Julian Castro failed to qualify for the final debates.
That's where Ocasio-Cortéz came in.
During a town hall meeting in Las Vegas last Sunday, the congresswoman again accompanied Sanders in front of about 2,000 people, giving a speech entirely in Spanish.
I’m nervous for this all-Spanish town hall, but I also know that the only way I’m going to improve my Spanish is by practicing it!
Nevada: Únete a nosotros este Domingo para un... town hall(?) en Español, y probablemente con un poquito de “spanglish” también https://t.co/nj4WezQZXN
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 18, 2019
After asserting that speaking her parents' language is "a personal project" that she intends to improve, the congresswoman weaved her best rhetoric with an almost impeccable Spanish –accent and little idioms aside– telling her story from an immigrant home to the floor of Congress.
"Like many first, second and third-generation Americans, I grew up between two worlds and in multiple contexts," Ocasio-Cortéz said. "My mother was born in Puerto Rico and my father was born in the South Bronx while the Bronx was burning.”
After recalling her family's struggle to survive in a country where class and racial divisions are still an obstacle for immigrants, the Congresswoman argued the need to support a project like Sanders' especially in view of 2020.
Estamos construyendo una coalición multirracial que es lo suficientemente poderosa como para vencer a Trump. Únete a la representante @AOC para una reunión política en Nevada que se llevara a cabo en español. https://t.co/qHfAiXQ59j
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 22, 2019
"We can do better, we deserve better," she explained, recalling how working "side by side with undocumented immigrants" in a taqueria in the Bronx, she was able to see first-hand the exploitation of labor and how "your value depends on the size of your bank account.”
"It wasn't until I heard the ideas and campaign of a man named Bernie Sanders that I began to see a way to reclaim our value as human beings. I began to realize that not only do we deserve Medicare for all, but if we organize and stick together we can have it.”
Ocasio-Cortéz thus praised much of Sanders' presidential project, including affordable housing as a human right, investment in education, and a decent living wage for all.
"Today I feel more than ever that change is within our reach," she concluded. "Today we have an ally in our struggle for equality and justice."
According to the Univision/Latino Decisions poll in September, Sanders continues to be the favorite candidate among non-Republican Hispanic voters, with a 21% approval rating.
Now, with the support of Ocasio-Cortéz, this could increase and change the outlook for the Democratic race in the coming months.