Do Latinos really view Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as their Leaders?

By Adriana Maestas | TeleSur | – –

The problem with promoting Cruz and Rubio as “Latino leaders” is that they have turned their backs on the Latino community with their policy positions.

In the primary race for the Republican nomination for the president, it was noted that in the Iowa caucuses Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida placed first and third respectively with both earning over half of the Iowa GOP caucus goers’ support. This week in New Hampshire, Cruz placed second and Rubio came in a disappointing fifth place. Yet, there has been some speculation that the first Latino president or vice president could be a Republican, and in La Opinión, one of the oldest Spanish language daily papers in the U.S., there was a piece titled, “Why don’t we celebrate Cruz’s victory in Iowa?”

The problem with promoting Cruz and Rubio as “Latino leaders” is that they have fundamentally turned their backs on the Latino community with their policy positions. For instance, Cruz has said that he would triple the border patrol, put in place a biometric identifying system, and deport “criminal, illegal aliens.” Rubio has turned his back on the immigration bill that he co-sponsored in 2013, which would have given a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants. Rubio, like Cruz, has also called for more immigration enforcement even though the Obama administration has set records for deportations. For children of immigrants, these candidates have effectively distanced themselves from the immigrant community, of which Latinos constitute a large percentage.

When it comes to issues other than immigration, Cruz and Rubio have consistently remained to the right of the larger Latino community in the U.S. Both candidates have campaigned against Obamacare, the President’s signature health care law that has given the Latino community the largest gains in insurance coverage since enrollment in the program began in 2013. Latinos have been supportive of raising the minimum wage with 84 percent indicating that it should be increased to $10.10 an hour. Both Cruz and Rubio voted against a proposal to raise the minimum wage in 2014.

And beyond policy, Cruz has never identified as a Latino. Born Rafael Edward Cruz to an Irish-American mother and Cuban father, and known as a child by the nickname ‘Felito,’ Cruz opted to be called Ted when he was 13. On the other hand, Rubio has been more apt to bring up his parents’ immigration story and speak in Spanish on the campaign trail, but his Latinidad is rooted in his Cuban heritage and shaped by representing Florida, a state where 31 percent of Latinos identify as Cuban and 27 percent of Latinos identify as Puerto Rican. About a quarter of Florida’s population is Latino.

The majority group that falls under the “Latino umbrella” in the U.S. is Mexican-American or Chicano. People of Mexican origin are nearly two-thirds of the Latino population in the U.S., and a majority of Mexican-Americans live in the Western states. Only 3.7 percent of Latinos in all of the U.S. are of Cuban origin.

Mexicans do not enjoy the special immigration privileges that Cubans do, despite sharing a border with the U.S. Under the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, Cubans are not subject to deportation once they arrive on U.S. soil, whereas Mexicans migrating to the U.S. to escape poverty or drug war violence without documentation are subject to removal by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  

Some Mexican Americans can trace their ancestry in the U.S. to a time when the Southwestern states belonged to Mexico, which means that their roots in this country pre-date those of both Cruz and Rubio.

When pundits and the political establishment assume that because Cruz and Rubio share Spanish surnames and can be classified as Latino, it cannot be taken for granted that people of Mexican descent view them as members of their community. Furthermore, many Mexicans call themselves Chicano, rejecting the government label of Hispanic or the preferred term in the media, Latino. The term “Chicano” comes from the word Mexica, the name for the Indigenous people of Mexico who inhabited the region prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Chicano acknowledges the Indigenous ancestry of Mexicans. In addition, Chicano is often considered a term of self-determination and recalls the struggles of the Chicano movement in the 1960s and 1970s when this community was fighting against police brutality, protesting the war in Vietnam, and demanding that their history be taught in schools. Cruz and Rubio have done nothing to acknowledge the history of the Chicano movement or the political battles fought by members of the largest group of Latinos in the U.S.

It might be convenient for the political establishment and the media to portray Cruz and Rubio as Latino leaders. However, the majority of people who are classified under this label largely reject both candidates and the policies that they promote. When Cruz and Rubio are advanced as Latino leaders, it sets Mexican-Americans up to be represented by candidates who do not share their history and current struggle. Politically conscious Chicanos will not go along with the staging of Cruz and Rubio as members of their community in this election cycle because these candidates have never shown solidarity with them, nor are they signaling in their campaign rhetoric that they are inclined to in the future.

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CNN from last month: “Marco Rubio attacks Ted Cruz’s voting record”

10 Responses

  1. Senadate Ted Cruz was born in Canada – who refuses to rescind his Canadian citizenship. Which makes him a Canadian, not a “Latino.” Or even a U.S. citizen by birth.

    Senadate Marco Rubio is an elitist, establishment snob and much the same as Cruz, supports his blood only when it is for political gain.

    • There are some constitutional scholars that have expressed doubts whether Cruz will qualify to be president due to his Canadian birth.

      • Doubts?

        Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as president of the United States, under clause 5:

        No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

        Misinformation abounds – here is the law.

        • This issue came up when Mexican-born George Romney, the former chairman of American Motors and later Michigan governor, ran for president in 1968.

          That question was never conclusively established, although most legal scholars felt Mitt’s father was constitutionally qualified to serve as U.S. president.

  2. of course not; Cubanos and Chicanos/Centro-Americanos are at odds on many if not most issues.

  3. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives Cuban immigrants special treatment compared to other similarly-situated immigrants – such as Haitians. This disparate treatment has been a bone of contention.

    Cuban-Americans’ special status historically has been viewed as being derived from their opposition to Marxism and Fidel Castro. There were literally thousands of Cuban exiles who worked for the joint CIA-Army Cuban project to destabilize the Castro regime known as Operation Mongoose, based in the Miami area throughout the 1960s and 70s. These exiles were politically active and associated closely with the Republican Party.

    In 2000, the state chairman of the Florida Republican Party, a Cuban-American, spearheaded an intense effort to urge Cuban-Americans in Florida to vote for George W. Bush in response to the Clinton administration’s efforts to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. Florida became the “swing state” in the presidential election that year and many credit the Florida GOP’s efforts with ensuring Al Gore’s extremely narrow defeat.

    In contrast, Mexican-Americans are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats and have not enjoyed the cozy relationship with the Republican Party and the U.S. intelligence community as the Cuban-Americans have.

  4. Glenn Beck says Cruz is a Lincoln? That’s practically an insult in the Republican Party as it is now. And many of Beck’s Mormon forebears wanted to join the Confederacy, what with them supporting slavery and all. Cruz mouthed the Jade Helm crap along with the rest of Texas’ treasonous rulers, talking like the secessionist firebrands of 1860.

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