INTRO: The Hispanic community in Florida has grown by almost half a million people since the 2000 election. That is seventeen percent of the Nation’s eligible voters. While the well to do Cuban population on the east coast of Florida has in the recent past dominated the political dialog, Working class and farm working Non-Cuban populations through out the state have other needs. Recently, WMNF’s Mark Antokas spoke with a preist in Dade City who works with those in the poorer Latino-American Community.

SCRIPT: Father Ramon, of the Santa Rita Catholic Church in Dade City works with Hispanic migrant workers. Father Ramon, who is Cuban born considers the Church’s mission as a bridge between the Latino community and the rest of society. Florida’s Hispanic community is no longer dominated by the wealthier Cuban voting block, instead, Mexicans, Puerto-Ricans and Columbians now far out number Cuban’s. Many of Florida’s Hispanic workers are of the migrant farm worker community. WMNF asked Father Ramon what issues are important for Latino-Americans in the coming Senate and Presidential elections. He said working conditions for migrants were poor. Roll Tape:

Many Hispanic’s are of the Catholic faith. Abortion is a very large issue in this country, not only in the Catholic Church, but across all Christian belief. The anti-abortion issue is a centerpiece of the Republican adgenda, but Father Ramon maintains that it’s about respect for life. Roll Tape:

WMNF caught up with Martinez, the Republican running for the Senate at the lobby of the Tampa Airport Marriot. He defended his assertion that Cuba maintains “Youth Work Camps� Roll Tape:

WMNF asked Father Ramon whether Mel Martinez would get the Hispanic vote. Roll Tape:

SOCK OUT: Mel Martinez and Betty Castor currently are running neck and neck, with a host of voters yet undecided, Hispanic and otherwise. Latino-American issues are predicted to dominate more and more of the political debate, in Florida and the Nation as the election approaches. This is Mark Antokas for WMNF radio news.

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