Elizabeth Mendez Berry at (212) 613-8036 or Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026
Both Governor George Pataki and President George Bush have systematically wooed Latino voters, but according to community leaders, their sweet words have not translated into actions. This August when the Republican National Convention arrives in New York, Pataki will continue his PR campaign by hosting an “Amigos” party for Spanish speakers.
Hard-hitting ads created by the Mothers of the New York Disappeared, a group of people who have had their lives destroyed by the Rockefeller drug laws, which is predominantly Latino and African American, have run in New York’s two most popular Spanish-language papers, El Diario and Hoy. This Friday in Washington’s El Tiempo, another powerful ad will run, addressing the fact that many Latinos are either being sent to fight in Iraq by Bush, or sent to prison by Pataki, because of the Rockefeller drug laws, and highlighting the negative impact of both politicians’ policies on the Latino community (93% of those incarcerated under the Rockefeller drug laws are Latino and African American despite roughly equal drug use across the races).
“Pataki is hosting this fiesta to take advantage of the fact that the nation’s eyes will be on New York. But he hasn’t been a real amigo to Latinos, he’s been a fair-weather friend,” said Randy Credico of the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. “While campaigning in Latino communities, he gave lip service to reforming the Rockefeller drug laws, but talk is cheap. The reality is that he’s the main obstacle to Rockefeller reform.”
In addition to the series of ads, a coalition of Latino leaders has united to tell Pataki to keep his promises. The group will hold a press conference on Friday July 23rd on New York’s city hall steps. The coalition includes State Assemblyman Peter Rivera and City Councilman Jose Serrano Jr., community leaders Dennis de Leon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, Lorraine Cortes-Vasquez , President of the Hispanic Federation, and Romeo Sanchez of the Alliance for Inmates with AIDS, survivors of the Rockefeller drug laws like George Prendes, and activists including Julie Colon, whose mother was incarcerated under the Rockefeller Laws, as well as advocates Maria Perez, Deputy Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and Rev. Luis Barrios.
“Saying a few words in Spanish or having a salsa party once every four years doesn’t cut it,” said Mar