Dee Dee García Blase, who is the founder of the Tequila Party, responded to questioning regarding the naming of her party by Latino Rebels. The Rebels conducted a survey of their fans that overwhelmingly voted in favor of changing the name of the TP party. Ms. García Blase's response, in my opinion, was as ignorant and as a racist (Republican) can be. Here is the statement:
For the record, the owner of the Latino Rebels who is against the name of the Tequila Party is Puerto Rican (Julio) , and we all know PR’s get automatic citizenship. I don’t think that Latino Rebels really feel what people of Mexican descent are going through right now and we have to be creative and controversial in a good way to get people to think about the importance of the Latino vote to promote for pro immigration politicians. It’s too bad Latino Rebels wasn’t more like Rep. Luis Gutierrez for Illinois. Julio (Latino Rebels) asked me why we didn’t name the movement “rum party”, and I think it has something to do with PR’s and Cubanos liking ‘rum’ more so than the ‘tequila’.
As a stateside Puerto Rican (a Puerto Rican born in the United States), this statement frustrates me. So I decided to look up some facts and let Dee Dee know that "PR's" have joined forces with Mexicans on several fronts in the past century to fight for civil rights regardless of immigration/citizenship status.
1. Within the United States, Puerto Ricans settled in many urban areas such as Chicago, New Haven, Hartford, Boston, Jersey City and Philadelphia. The conditions faced were deplorable and poverty was rampant. Puerto Ricans in the United States fought against discrimination and economic exploitation. As the numbers grew in the 1950s, they were increasingly portrayed as unwilling to work, welfare leeches, drug addicts and juvenile delinquents. As a consequence of this public view, business and government leaders were able to get away with policies and practices that exploited and demeaned Puerto Ricans in jobs, housing, and education. (palante.org)
Does this sound familiar?
2. The Brown Berets and the Young Lords are activist groups that emerged during the late 1960s. Both organizations focus on community organizing, decrying police brutality, and advocating for human rights and educational equality. Furthermore, these organizations also were part of the Rainbow Coalition which included the Young Patriots and the Black Panther Party.
3. Puerto Rican reggaeton artists Wisin Y Yandel's "Estoy Enamorado" brought awareness to the immigration issue in the United States. Although many critics find that the video, depicting the mistreatment of undocumented immigrants, had no relation to the lyrics, it still received over 51 million views on YouTube alone. That number is equivalent to the population of Latinos in the United States.
4. "I don't think that Latino Rebels really feel what people of Mexican descent are going through right now and we have to be creative and controversial in a good way to get people to think about the importance of the Latino vote to promote for pro immigration politicians. It's too bad Latino Rebels wasn't more like Rep. Luis Gutierrez for Illinois." This is where Dee-Dee García Blasé gets it all wrong. Rep. Luis Gutierrez is not pro immigration but, rather, Rep. Luis Gutierrez is for the DREAM Act, totally different policy. The DREAM Act, if passed, would grant amnesty to undocumented citizens who work and/or are in school; not regularize the immigration status of those Dee Dee may be referring to.
Isolating the Mexican experience on immigration as unique is irresponsible. Granted that most of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. are from Mexico, but those that came before suffered the same discrimination and condescending looks that thousands of Puerto Ricans had to endured. Thus, singling Cubans and Puerto Ricans out as unaffected by the consequences of immigration is right out laughable, at best.