By Carles Escolà and Jorge Fuentelsaz
New York, June 15 (efe-epa).- Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, well known for being a symbol of the United States’ most progressive political branch, has called on Latino and Black communities to vote in November elections to put an end to President Donald Trump’s rule.
At a modest campaign event in Jackson Heights, a Queens neighborhood, ahead of the New York primaries on 23 June, AOC met with Efe to talk about Black Lives Matters, the forthcoming general election and the importance of reviewing the narratives of the country’s history.
Question: Coronavirus is affecting working-class people, Latinos and the African-American community. How is this situation influencing the primaries and how do you think it will affect the presidential elections in November?
Answer: There are many effects of the coronavirus here in our community, but especially among the Latino community. We are suffering the highest economic impact in the city and also in the country because the measures approved by Congress in the form of relief and recovery packages did not include our entire Latino or migrant community, or families with a mixed-status.
Q: Is the Latino vote going to be important in these November elections in order to oust Trump as president?
A: The work we need to do is not only convince Trump supporters but also convince our community to go out to vote in November. It will be a competition over who has the most enthusiastic voters and those supporters who will go out to vote in November. So the role of the Latin voter in our community is very important. Also, because our elections depend on the electoral college system, that’s why there are some states, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, that have Latin populations that are going to be very important in order to win the White House in November.
Q: What would be your message so that this time they go out to vote en masse?
A: For our community, these elections will determine our lives. This president is truly dangerous for our community and if we don’t go out and if we don’t vote in November, not voting is very dangerous for our community especially when this president is trying to take away the Black, Latino, Afro-Latin community’s right to vote. So it is very important that we use our rights in this election.
Q: Demonstrations against racism are also changing the political landscape. How do you think Trump is managing this crisis?
A: We are now in a phase where it seems like this president and the republican party in the United States want to ignore the coronavirus and want to forget that we have a pandemic. And this pandemic did not disappear when the police killed George Floyd and we know that when everyone took to the streets that was a very serious decision for our community. People knew they had to make a choice between their health and risk contracting coronavirus or to go out and defend our rights and defend George Floyd’s life and the lives of Black communities here in the United States. That was a very serious decision.
Q: In the demonstrations, we have seen attacks against symbols and statues of people who are considered racists or slavers, and one of those symbols is Christopher Columbus. What do you think of these attacks?
A: The leaders of the confederation is a debate, a conversation about our history and which stories of our history are told. And I said last week that there is a reason why we have these symbols and statues of people who were slave owners and not of the heroes who wanted to liberate slaves.
That conversation is similar when it comes to Christopher Columbus. Why do we have statues of him and not of indigenous people which are also why we are Latin community in the first place?
Q: Following the withdrawal of Bernie Sanders from the Democratic presidential race, Joe Biden will face Trump in the November elections and he has called for the different tranches of the party to unite ahead of the elections, have you supported this move?
A: We are still in dialogue. I have accepted the position of co-director of the Environment team of the Democratic Party and we are now in a debate on how we can change the policies of the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction for our future.
Q: Another debate with Biden is the next vice president. Would you only support a female candidate?
A: I back having a female candidate and female vice president, but what is also very important for me is what policies that woman supports. If she promotes progressive policies for our migrant community, for the environment, for the economic rights for our communities…those policies are really important to me and those are the policies that I am pushing for in a vice president, but in November I think the options are very clear and I will vote for vice president Biden.
Q: What will happen if Trump is re-elected?
A: When he was chosen in 2016 many people did not imagine what this administration was guilty of. I cannot imagine him being reelected. We already saw what this administration did. They separated children from their parents and families on the border. The rights our community were stripped of, the rights they took away from women. President Trump has no limits, he does not respect the law, he doesn’t respect the courts, and this is very, very dangerous for the possibilities of our community here in the United States.