Friday, July 18, 2008

3rd Annual National Latino Congreso Begins Today!

The 3rd Annual National Latino Congreso begins today—the last large gathering of Latino leaders before the November elections.


Friday, July 18, 2008
For Immediate Release

Latino Congreso Gathering to Launch Five Million Dollar Nonpartisan National Voter Effort

Hundreds prepared to dialogue with political leaders during three-day gathering to urge a commitment to drive Latino agenda forward in the next Administration

LOS ANGELES, CA – Bolstered by a recent study conducted by the William C. Velasquez Institute that found more than one million new Latino voters registered to vote during this primary season, convening organizations of the National Latino Congreso will use the third annual gathering to launch a massive voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort geared at adding an additional 1-2 million new Latino voters to the rolls in time to vote in November’s election.

"Latino leaders will use this gathering to organize and fund-raise to launch a massive nonpartisan voter mobilization campaign,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP). “Already more than 10 million Latinos are registered to vote in America, and our efforts will help drive that number up to between 11 and 12 million."

More than 1,500 participants are expected to join the series of town-hall meetings where discussions facilitated by nationally-recognized elected officials and experts on will cover voter registration, voter education and mobilization efforts, in addition to traditional issues such as education reform and immigrant rights, and issues of growing concern for Latinos nationwide including public health, urban greening, foreign policy, climate change, social security, and much more.

“The Latino agenda has always been diverse and Latinos comprise 15% of the total U.S. population, but little attention has been paid to this segment of the electorate,” stated Oscar Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). “We are interested in the well being if this nation as much as anybody else in America but we must ensure that the main candidates, presidential, congressional or otherwise, not only pay lip service to our interest, but deliver once they are elected.”

The Congreso is one of the most diverse and participatory gatherings of Latinos in the United States. Participants come from all walks of life, including grassroots organizations, community leaders, religious institutions, day laborers, environmental activists, student organizations, small businesses, labor representatives, and national elected officials. The working platform will build on the previous two years of work surrounding more than 158 resolutions which will be presented to the presidential candidates and other elected officials and candidates running for congressional, state, and local offices.

“The Voting Rights Act is an important and necessary piece of legislation that continues to protect the voting rights of all voters throughout the United States, in particular those who have historically been denied or limited in their right and access to vote” stated Gina Montoya, Chief Administrative Officer of MALDEF. “Unfortunately, intimidation, disenfranchisement and strategic discrimination of low-income and minority voters continue today. Our community must be prepared to combat the coordinated efforts by those who wish to deny us our vote and voice in the political process this November,” Montoya added.

The Congreso will consist of interactive town hall meetings focusing on national/presidential issues on Day One, and Congressional and State/local issues Day Two. Discussions topics will include: justice for immigrants, war in Iraq, economy, climate change, trade and foreign policy, exclusion, public education, healthcare access and reform, community development, and poverty.

Confirmed speakers include Representatives Xavier Becerra, Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (CA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Joe Baca, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Ruben Hinojosa (TX), and Ciro Rodriguez (TX), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, among others. Presidential Candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain, have both been invited as guest speakers to the “Latino Vote and the Presidency” fundraising lunch and dinner to be held on Friday, July 18, 2008

The Third Annual National Latino Congreso will be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. All activities are open to the public but registration is required at Members of the media wishing to attend the Congreso are requested to register at


The National Latino Congreso is a multi-state effort convened by nine national organizations, including Hispanic Federation (HF), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), and William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI). The Co-convening organizations include Earth Day Network (EDN), Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and National Alliance of Craftsman Associations (NACA). Southwest Airlines is the official carrier of the National Latino Congreso.