Hillary on the Hustings for Hispanic Vote

Hillary Meadow Woods resized

Hillary Clinton campaigned in Florida this week for the fourth time since launching her presidential campaign, stopping in Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando, where she addressed a rally in the heavily Hispanic Meadow Woods area of south Orlando.

Orlando was the second of the three stops, where up to 600 people gathered at the Meadow Woods Magic Recreation Center to hear the Democratic presidential candidate speak for about an hour on a number of broad issues, from immigration to infrastructure. Clinton clearly understood that Meadow Woods is not only 65 percent Hispanic but, more important, itis 59 percent Puerto Rican.

Clinton mentioned Puerto Ricans or Puerto Rico about seven times during her speech, advocating for a long-term solution to the island’s fiscal crisis, which includes more than $70 billion in debt. (Congressional leaders were meeting the same day with Puerto Ricans who traveled to Washington for a National Day of Action to draw attention to the issue. Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on a plan to help the island get back on its feet, meaning that, sadly, no action is likely before the end of 2015.)

“Some people are starting to call this part of Florida the 79th municipality of Puerto Rico,” Clinton commented, adding that she had visited the island earlier this year, where she raised more than $500,000 in presidential campaign funds. “Any president should pay attention to Puerto Rico.”She invoked Puerto Rican megastar Ricky Martin, saying “Ricky Martin said to demand respect. We’re going to demand respect.”

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Puerto Ricans Plan Day of Action in DC


day of action

A busload of Puerto Ricans from Orlando is scheduled to travel to the nation’s capital next week to pressure congressional leaders to act on behalf of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Buses will converge in Washington, D. C., from points north and south as part of a continuing effort among Puerto Rican groups – in concert with Puerto Rican elected officials in the states – to build momentum to solve the island’s economic problems, including a 10-year recession causing tens of thousands to flee each year in search of opportunities in Central Florida and elsewhere.

“The crisis in Puerto Rico has created a real sense of urgency for us to be talking to one another and coordinating our efforts,” said Zoé Colón, director of Florida and Southeast Operations for Hispanic Federation, a community advocacy group based in New York that opened an office in Orlando this year. “This is historical. It’s the largest exodus out of the island. All eyes are on Florida.”

Puerto Rico is facing a December 1 debt payment of nearly $300 million, a payment that island officials have said cannot be made without disrupting government services. In all, the island owes Wall Street more than $70 billion in debt, money borrowed over many years largely to fill budget holes and maintain government services. A nonpayment would make the island default on its debt.

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Forecast: Hispanics to Spend More this Holiday Season

Woman Holding Gift --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


Major retailers are already lamenting slow holiday sales even before the season has fully launched. Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Macy’s – one by one they have warned Wall Street of rising inventory, prompting the  companies to cut earlier holiday sales forecasts.

But here’s a bright note: Florida Atlantic University of Boca Raton  just released a national survey stating that 31 percent of Hispanics intend to boost their holiday spending this year, up from 29 percent in 2014.

Those who said they would spend no money shrank by nine percentage points, which is statistically significant. The findings indicate that Latinos may be more solid financially this year and, therefore, more willing to open their wallets.

In fact, 13 percent of respondents said they planned to spend $1,000 or more, according to the survey, which is substantially higher than the 8 percent reported the year before. And in another sign of Hispanic consumer confidence, 64 percent said they planned to spend cash, compared with 59 percent back in 2014. If Hispanics say they plan to spend cash it’s because they have greenbacks in their wallets. Otherwise, they would resort to the old fashioned tarjetazo, or credit card binge.

Monica Escaleras, director of FAU’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative, which conducted the poll, thinks retailers ought to focus on this consumer group with a strong likelihood of consumer spending.

I’m more interested in the jolly news that Hispanics are feeling festive and generous because the group often experiences the brunt of the recession first and the recovery last.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Public Radio Profiles Puerto Rican Community

The radio program Intersection on WMFE 90.7 FM looks into the growing Puerto Rican community.  To hear the interview click on the link in the story. / screenshot


Local public radio station WMFE 90.7-FM did a story on the growth of the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida this week for its Intersection program, which aired today at 9 a.m. Host Mathew Peddie interviewed me for the story, as well as local political-union activist Jimmy Torres Vélez, Socorro Ramos-Avilés, and Spanish-language radio host Magda Ivette Torres.

Listen in on the conversation here.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor