Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Latino Congreso sets 2008 Agenda by Rosalio Munoz and

Important gathering of Latino leaders and activists took place in L.A. Read on. Dra. Valenzuela

Latino Congreso sets 2008 Agenda by Rosalio Munoz and
Joelle Fishman

Some 2000 Latino leaders and activists from throughout
the United States came together in Los Angeles October
5-9 to iron out a plan of action and a social justice
program of issues for the 2008 elections with the goal
of bringing out 10 million Latino voters that can play
a decisive role in the presidential and congressional
elections,

Latinos can be decisive in determining the
presidential electoral in the key battle ground states
of *Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada*
and congressional elections in twenty states* that can
change the political direction of the country said
Antonio Gonzalez President of the Southwest Voter
Registration project in opening up the 2nd National
Latino Congreso convened by 10 national Latino
organizations and hundreds of state and local groups
from 22 states.

*We are going to mobilize massively to reach record
levels of Latino vote* on the key issues of
immigration reform, the war, greening cities, health
care and climate change declared Gonzalez. While
recognizing that *today we don*t have a critical mass
to affect that change*, Gonzalez said this can be
achieved with *conscious thinking, planning and
organizing* leading up to the 2008 elections.* *We
have big issues not only as Latinos but as citizens of
the world*, he concluded. .

Over 50 workshops led by leading advocates and
activists reviewed some 70 policy resolutions.

Helping prepare positions on the war in Iraq were Rep.
Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Out
of Iraq Caucus, former Calif. State senator Tom
Hayden, Judith Le Blank national organizer for the
United for Peace and Justice, Lydia Lopez of of
Latinos for Peace. The Congreso unanimously called
for complete withdrawal from Iraq to start
immediately, no invasion of Iran, support for the
October 27 regional demonstrations against the war and
for the Iraq Moratoriums activities on the 3rd Friday
each month4 demo 3rd, and to support legislative
congressional Out of Iraq and Progressive caucuses.

Heading up workshops on immigration reform were Rosa
Rosales National President of the League of United
Latin American Citizens, John Trasvina President of
MALDEF, attorney Peter Schey of the Center for Human
Rights and Constitutional Law, Nativo Lopez of
President of the Mexican American Political
Association, Martin Manteca Lead Organizer of the
Laborers International Union of North America, Angela
Sambrano of National Alliance of Latin American and
Caribbean Communities. The Congreso passed
resolutions reviewed in the workshops to call for
legalization with a path to citizenship for all
undocumented immigrants, opposition to guest worker
programs, a moratorium on deportations and factory
raid and no match sanctions, and opposition to
candidates who *vilify immigrants, divide communities,
break up families and/or incite fears of or violence
against immigrants.

Congreso workshops and resolutions also highlighted
healthcare, the environment, political action, labor
ritghts, and relations with Latin America. Delegates
voted to support HR 676 for universal single payer
health care, and to override the veto of children*s
health care (S-CHIP). Standing for labor rights, the
delegates called for passage of the Employee Free
Choice Act. Election day voter registration and
publically financed elections won support, as did
establishment of a national holiday for Cesar E.
Chavez. The Congreso called for passage of the Clean
Air Act, an end to nuclear and coal fired generation
of energy and opposed new fossil fuel based power
plants in low income and minority communities.
Delegates opposed expansion of CAFTA and NAFTA and
called for an end to lfamily travel restrictions to
Cuba, freedom for the Cuban 5, and closure of the
School of the Americas. The Congreso voted to oppose
US intervention, covert and overt, in Latin America.

Leading political and social justice leaders
electrified Congreso delegates with speeches on the
issues.

*America: not another nickel, not another dime, not
another soldier, not this time* declared Rep. Maxine
Waters to a standing ovation which repeated when she
called for unity of the African American and Latino
Communities.

Counter recruitment leader Fernando Suarez del Solar,
whose immigrant son Jesus was among the first
casualties in Iraq, brought tears to the eyes and
standing cheers *what are we doing to stop the dying
of the children in Iraq* stand up for housing and jobs
beut even more important, stand up for life!* The
Congreso approved his call to strike military
provisions from the Dream Act which provides college
legalization of undocumented college students.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the
Congreso * no group can do it alone* in calling for a
broad coalition to win just immigration reform. He
announced that the US Conference of Mayors would hold
hearings across the country to generate a* national
response to poverty and to challenge Congress to
provide support for working families*.
He said Latinos should take a leading role to end the
war in Iraq as *we are 14% of the population with 20%
of the casualties, its time to bring the troops home.*

Presidential candidates Rep. Dennis Kucinich and
former Senator Mike Gravel personally addressed the
Congreso delegates. Kucinich drew several ovations
including his declaration that * it is time to have a
president who stands up for workers, for immigrants,
for human beings. There is no such thing as an
illegal human being.* He called for stopping the
raids and canceling NAFTA and WTO. Gravel stressed
that opposition to invasion of Iran was the most
immediate and urgent issue at this moment warning,
*Bush and Cheney want a war with Iran, this could mean
a world depression or even a nuclear exchange.*

Representative of the campaigns of Democrats Sen.
Hilary Clinton, Sen. Barak Obama, and Gov. Bill
Richardson addressed the Congreso. No Republican
candidates responded to invitations to be represented.


Complete information on the Congreso proceedeings are
online at http://latino congreso.org .

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