Many people forget that, of 53 million Hispanics in the United States, 41 million are native Spanish speakers, 11.6 million are bilingual, and that about 32 million are eligible voters.
These numbers are anything but negligible in an election as important to the country as the 2020 presidential election.
Despite the fact that Latino voting activists have tirelessly repeated to the parties the need to engage and involve our community in the debate, we have often seen the efforts fall short.
However, this year the Iowa caucus will have its ads in Spanish, for the first time.
According to NBC News, the Iowa Democratic Party “approved 87 satellite caucuses, 11 of which are ‘accommodating language and culture needs,'” which include translation services.
“Latinos make up 6 percent of the Iowa population and were 3.4 percent of eligible voters in 2018,” the media explained. “They hold fewer than 30 local elective offices but no statewide or state legislative offices.”
In the state, a quarter of the adult Hispanic population with citizenship are foreign born, roughly reflecting the population at the national level, which is why organizations such as the Latino Political Network and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have focused their efforts on the inclusion of Spanish speakers in the political process.
“If you are going to have a contest to determine the next leader of the free world, you want to make it as accessible to people as possible,” Rob Barron of the Latino Political Network told NBC.
Similarly, several volunteers have organized to invite all Latinos to participate in the caucus, which this time can be explained to all without impediment, especially considering the impact that the Hispanic community can have on the final results.
“I feel like this year everyone has been talking about how Iowa is super-white, but it’s really not super-white to me,” said Vanessa Marcano-Kelly, a local leader who petitioned the state Democratic Party to create caucus sites in Spanish, to the New York Times. “I see Latinos everywhere.”
Marcano is now part of a group that has organized community meetings for Spanish-speaking caucus-goers on February 3 at the South Suburban Y.M.C.A. in Des Moines, where she will help as an interpreter to “ensure that the voices of all people can really be heard.”
During most of the primaries, we have seen how candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have focused on fundamental parts of their campaigns on Latino outreach, including the participation of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz and former candidate Julián Castro in both campaigns.
According to Domingo Garcia, president of LULAC, this year it is expected that 1 of every 4 caucus-goers will be Latino, whose participation “could have a dramatic impact on the Democratic primary.”
Although it is too early to speculate, it is safe to say that for the first time Latinos seem to be really taken into account as the powerful audience they are.