August 18, 2000
By Jerome DeHerrera
Los Angeles - Longtime farmworker champion Dolores Huerta and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton brought 450 Latino delegates to their feet at the caucus of Hispanic delegates to the first national convention of the Democratic Party in the new millennium.
Ms. Huerta, who organized the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez, and Mrs. Clinton rose to rally the Latin delegates to work for the election of Vice President Al Gore as President and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut as Vice President.
"What we are seeing is a Republican Party using a few Latinos to try to make us forget that the party of Pete Wilson has somehow changed," Huerta said. "Well, I have not forgotten what the last Republican governor of California tried to do to the working men and women of California, and I have not forgotten how our people were suffering economically under the last Republican President."
The crowd of Latino party activists responded explosively to Huerta's call for renewed efforts to elect Democrats with, "si se puede, si se puede!"
Mrs. Clinton, who followed Huerta on stage, thanked the assembled crowd for helping President Clinton and her. "When times were bad, you stood by us, and we stood by you, and we are very grateful for that." President Clinton was scheduled to address the audience but he cancelled at the last minute because he was rehearsing his farewell speech to the convention that same day.
But Mrs. Clinton said she hoped that there was still much work for her to do. She declared that if she is elected to the U.S. Senate from the state of New York that she would work with President Al Gore to continue the progress her husband was able to achieve. "There is still a lot to do. Latinos are still discriminated against in the workplace, and Latino children still need better educations, and I will work for that day when Latinos assume the places in society that their hard work and family values merit."
Both women said that the Latino vote was going to be very important in the election in November, and both urged the Latino delegates to return home re-committed to helping elect Al Gore president.
Latino delegates also heard from U.S. Representative Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Caucus Chairman Nelson Diaz of Pennsylvania, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and President of the Denver City Council Ramona Martinez, New Mexico House Speaker Ray Sanchez, Florida State Representative Bob Enriquez, and former Chicago School Board President George Muñoz.
Jerome writes a political column from Washington D.C. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.