LATINO VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE - Mitch Perry

05/13/04

As has been frequently said, the Latino Vote in the 2004 election is being vigorously fought for amongst Democrats and Republicans nationally, and particularly here in Florida.

This morning, an emissary from the Puerto Rican Government who has been working on registering Puerto Ricans in the U.S. for the past couple of years spoke in Tampa's Ybor City Museum, bringing their nationwide drive to West Central Florida.

Mari Carmen Aponte is executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. She said that the nationwide, non-partisan voter registration and education program's goal has to be to target the 642,000 Puerto Ricans living in the U.S., who were not registered as of July of 2002.

The name of the campaign is "Que Nada Nos Detenga, or Let Nothing stop us!....

Mari Carmen Aponte says that she became inspired to do her life work by observing young Puerto Rican Americans while teaching bi-lingual studies in Philadelphia earlier in her career (roll tape#1 o.q."is our vote")

And Aponte says one of their campaign's chief goals - is to arouse Puerto Rican interests and build political leverage from increased voter participation (roll tape#2 o.q."and that's all were doing")

One such local Latin politician who has opted NOT to compete this year is Frank Sanchez, former Tampa Mayoral candidate, who was rumored to be considering a run at one of the Hillsborough County Commission seats... ..He says he'll re-emerge in the local political arena soon enough.(roll tape#3 o.q. "out of the arena yet")

Tampa State Representative Bob Henriquez, who is Spanish and Cuban descent, said that The Democratic Party could have been guilty of taking the Latino vote for granted, but no more (roll tape#4 o.q. " grow from there")

Adriana Colino is the Hispanic Liason for Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's office

(roll tape#5 o.q."because that's the same thing")

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms, whose district in SouthEast Hillsborough County encompasses a large Hispanic population, also emphasized that it's crucial to get Latinos registered to vote (roll tape#6 o.q. " and their passion")

The Puerto Rican registration campaign says they have registered over 35,000 voters in Florida already this year...

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