Kerry Snubs Brazil and Latin America

     Kerry Snubs Brazil and 
Latin America

    John Kerry had the
    right woman at his side when accepting
    the Democratic nomination in Boston. Although he did mention
    his wife’s values in his acceptance speech, Kerry chose to
    ignore her Portuguese ancestry and her fluency in Spanish and
    Portuguese. What a missed opportunity to get the Latino vote.
    by: Edgardo
    Quintanilla

    On the evening when the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United
    States eloquently accepted the nomination of his party in Boston, he made
    no mention of the significant role immigrants play in his country and the
    future of his party.

    That gaffe presented to
    the Republican nominee, who was at the time vacationing in Texas, with a golden
    opportunity to attract the Latino vote in late August at New York City.

    Given that the need for
    immigration reform in the United States is a matter which neither presidential
    candidate can simply wish away, John Kerry missed his cue. Kerry’s advisers
    had it wrong. Kerry forgot that the call for patriotism does not win elections.

    By not talking about immigration
    reform in Boston, Kerry did not heed the counsel of Louis Pasteur, the French
    scientist, who said that chance favors the ready mind. And what a chance Kerry
    wasted.

    Kerry had the right place
    that night. Boston is an Atlantic seaport associated with the great waves
    of Irish immigrants who crossed the ocean for a better life in the Americas.

    Boston is proof of the
    rise of the Irish and Catholics into the ruling elites of the United States.
    One need only mention the name Kennedy to make the point. A Brazilian who
    has married in Massachusetts is likely to have married with someone with ancestors
    in the land of St. Patrick.

    Kerry had the right woman
    at his side that night. Although Kerry did mention his wife, a billionaire
    on her own right, and his wife’s values in his acceptance speech, Kerry chose
    not to make any reference to the Portuguese ancestry of his wife and her fluency
    in Spanish and Portuguese. Here was the introduction to a world which Latinos,
    even Brazilians in South America, would understand, but which Kerry shelved
    away.

    Kerry had a historic audience
    that night. The Democratic convention of 2004 had the largest Latino representation
    ever. Such numbers were used by political pundits and partisan spinners to
    illustrate the rise and potential of Latinos in the U.S.— a view espoused
    in the popular best-seller book The Latino Wave by Jorge Ramos, a Mexican-born
    TV journalist and writer.

    For Ramos, Latinos will
    decide who the next President of the United States will be. Kerry, a man who
    enjoys surfing, chose not to ride the Latino wave that night even if he spoke
    about restoring trust in the U.S. government and not misleading the American
    people into war.

    Kerry’s supporters will
    point to the Democratic agenda to show that if Kerry is elected that Kerry
    will implement an immigration reform in the first 100 days of his presidency.
    The problem with this vague hope is that the Democrats do not have the votes
    to carry the day in Congress.

    Nonetheless, in the culminating
    moment of an otherwise uneventful convention, Kerry might have all but conceded
    how to ride the Latino wave to President Bush by shelving the call for immigration
    reform in the U.S.

    President Bush will have
    the right city and the right moment come this August to point out that the
    conscience of the United States and the promise of America lies in the immigrant
    communities all over the United States.

    Brazilians are part of
    the Latino wave, the largest ethnic group in the United States.

    By praising the immigrant,
    Bush will be on his way to building better goodwill for his political party
    in the long term. Bush could showcase the lives of two distinguished Republicans
    with immigrant roots: Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian-born immigrant and
    governor of California_the fifth largest economy in the world—and Rosario
    Marín, a woman of Mexican descent and former U.S. Secretary of the
    Treasury.

    It has been said that
    Latinos are conservative in their values by nature although one has to keep
    in mind that all generalizations are not necessarily true.

    Whether Bush will keep
    his promise for immigration reform is a different matter.

    The failure of the Republican-led
    Congress to present to President Bush with a mini-immigration reform plan
    before the November presidential election is testament that the Republican
    party is divided as to how to deal with immigration reform.

    President Bush has failed
    as a leader in pushing for immigration reform, which at the very least provides
    for work permits for undocumented immigrants, despite making one of his guiding
    principles for immigration reform at a national press conference in early
    January 2004.

    However, by simply noting
    the need for immigration reform in his acceptance speech at the Republican
    Convention in one of the most diverse cities in the United States, and on
    the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and close to ground zero where individuals
    from close to 60 different countries died on a fateful September 11, President
    Bush will be remembered for having smartly understood the Latino wave in this
    global age in order to surf it into victory.

    But, will President Bush
    really seize this golden opportunity?

    Edgardo Quintanilla is an immigration lawyer in Sherman Oaks, California.
    He welcomes your comments at eqlaw@pacbell.net.

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