Acevedo also talked to People CHICA about why Julián Castro's presidential campaign is already a triumph.

Por Lena Hansen
Noviembre 20, 2019
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Emmy-award winning Univision anchor Enrique Acevedo talked to People CHICA about the importance of the Latinx vote in the 2020 election. “I think the Latino community understands the importance and urgency of this moment,” says the anchor of Noticiero Univision‘s nightly edition. “Now is not the time to sit and watch from the bleachers. We have to get involved.”

“Our political participation is crucial to the democratic process in this country,” adds Acevedo, who is a regular guest on major U.S. news networks as an expert in Hispanics, politics and policy. He emphasizes that Hispanics are now the largest group of eligible voters after white voters, accounting for 13 percent, and surpassing African Americans, who are at 12 percent. “The numbers are there. What is important is that we reflect that demographic change with our participation,” he says. “We have a great responsibility because elections bring consequences, and I think we understand that well after the past few years.”

Changes need to be made, he recognizes, to facilitate the voting process. “We constantly criticize the low levels of voting participation among Latinos without understanding the obstacles that exist. I refer to border ID laws or border restriction laws that force voters to have a passport or license to vote, when many Latino voters may not have those forms of ID even though they are citizens and are registered to vote,” he says. “These laws are designed to limit the voting of racial minorities. There are also structural obstacles like the lack of investing from political parties. In this election, thousands of millions of dollars will be spent in promoting candidates, and only a small amount of money will be spent on organizations dedicated to motivate Latinos to participate. Parties need to do a better outreach effort.”

Acevedo also argues that presidential candidates “need to understand that speaking Spanish is not enough to get the support of the Latinx community.” Instead, they need to become “culturally competent” to connect with this community and address the topics that are important for Latino voters. What are these? “There is a trap when it comes to talking immigration. Even though it's a topic that is important and personal to Latinos because we all have an immigrant in our family or a story related to immigration, it's not always a priority. I think we are more interested in understanding how new and better-paying jobs will be generated, how we can pay for our kids' education, how we can afford healthcare.” He adds that studies show that Latinx voters are also very interested in policy related to climate change and gun safety. “There is a lot in common with what the rest of voters want,” he says.

The Mexican journalist is currently participating in a fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics. “I'm giving seminars to students about the Latinx community, media and the 2020 election,” he says. Acevedo has covered the past three U.S. presidential elections, the 2012 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, the AIDS epidemic in Africa. and the drug wars in Latin America, among other important world news. He is a frequent contributor on NPR's Here and Now and his columns have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, El País and Reforma.

He recently interviewed former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro in the candidate's native San Antonio. “Julián Castro has played a fundamental role in this campaign,” he emphasizes. “A student from the University of Chicago who is originally from McAllen, Texas recently approached me and said, ‘Enrique, for me it's so important to see Julián in the campaign, because now I know that someone who looks like me and sounds like me and has a Latino name like mine can aspire to be president of this country.' To see a man who is prepared and committed to achieving his campaign goals is important for Latino youth who see themselves reflected in him and his aspirations. No matter how far his candidacy goes, it's already been a victory.”