Yesterday, the National Hispanic Association of Journalists was roundly criticized for its description of Dee Dee Garcia Blase, Tequila Party leader and the founder of Somos Republicans, as being a key figure in the recall of Arizona state senator Russell Pearce.
Today, Garcia Blase published an open letter on the Tequila Party site to Robert Unfreth, who had criticized the NAHJ's characterization of Garcia Blase. The entire letter can be read here. Here is the introduction:
Dear Robert Unfreth:
I am responding to your letter to the NAHJ and would like to shed light on any misunderstanding you may have had all along. This letter serves as a tool to defend myself because you have been misguided. I do not understand why you would waste your efforts attacking Latina volunteers who are merely getting politically involved. I believe my time can be better spent in coalition building but will take this one time to address your letter. Your injudicious concern is about a thing of the past. For you see…Jerry Lewis already beat Russell Pearce last year in the special elections of 2011. In case you did not know, Pearce is running for Senate again this year and is up to his old lying tricks. One would think your efforts would be better spent in supporting Bob Worsley who is running against Russell Pearce this year.
Would you prefer I stay home and make frijoles for dinner instead?
Would you rather I do nothing?
Do you want me to quit being a volunteer for efforts I believe in?
The collectivist fears of non-Latinos in our country are tragically paralleled within our own community. The obsession with labels, Party affiliations and special interest groups and its accompanying fear embody the barriers that inhibit us from creating a better life for the Latino immigrant community and our youth. We must swallow that bitter pill of reality and admit that it is going to take a broad coalition in order to fix the broken immigration system.
The rest of the letter continues here. In it, Garcia Blase provides point by point refutations of Unfreth's letter. It is perhaps the most information Garcia Blase has shared with anyone publicly, so we commend her for finally ahsraing more about what her organization does. Humility has never been a trait of Garcia Blase, but you cannot fault her for stating her best case and defending herself (without threats of legal action, either, so that is a good thing).
In the end, the people who raised the issue with the NAHJ achieved more than they could have imagined; they got Garcia Blase to be a bit more transparent. And by the looks of it, the Tequila Party's official site had alread changed its mission statement (even though the name is still silly):
The National Tequila Party Movement is a female-led political movement. More females vote in Presidential elections than men and the strong Latina matriarch is emerging and we want to communicate to the Latina matriarchs across the nation with regard to our message of compassion towards immigrants and legal immigration reform. The Tequila Party is currently organizing a national tour of concerts, events, dinners and rallies that will encourage a massive Latino Get Out The Vote and political participation. This movement is a non-partisan movement. We don't care how people vote, we just want them to get on the early ballot system, become consistent primary and general election voters.
In the meantime, the jury is still out about Garcia Blase and her claim that the Tequila Party is a national movement. The organization's latest web rankings disprove that claim. Other similar grass-roots organizations have garnered much more interest and traffic in less time. As for voter drives, organizations like VotoLatino do the same as what the TP is claiming to do, without the controversy.
And the name is still belittling to US Latino voters, but we already wrote enough about that.