An open letter to Mr. Romney from a Latina

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Dear Mr. Romney,

As a Cuban-American, I’m anxiously awaiting the day when a person of Latino heritage takes the oath of office for president of the United States. I dream of a time when a salsa band plays at the inaugural ball, plantains are a staple in the White House kitchen, and the first family’s children speak Spanish at home. I would like for that time to come soon, while my own children are still young. I want them to see — through their still innocent and hopeful eyes — that someone like them can hold the highest office in the land. I can only imagine the incredible impact it will make on their lives.

These things are important to me, Mr. Romney. But there are also other things that are more important.

Romney

You see, when my parents and I came to this country as political refugees in the early '90s, we didn’t have anything. We escaped Cuba’s communist regime without a single dollar — at the time it was illegal for Cubans to hold U.S. currency. Once here, we applied for government assistance and received benefits that allowed us to rent our first apartment, to buy food, to access healthcare. My father found a job right away working construction. My mother went to school to learn English. My brother and I started elementary school and thrived. We didn’t see ourselves as victims, and we sure as hell took personal responsibility and care for our lives. My father went on to start his own construction business, my mother earned a master’s degree, and my brother and I attended some of the best universities in the country.

We were given opportunities we desperately needed, and thanks to those opportunities, we achieved success. And we fell in love with America.

Can you imagine how different our story would be if the president at the time had decided to write us off like you’ve decided to write off 47 percent of the country?

Mr. Romney, in the same video where you make your now-infamous 47-percent comments, you also say about your father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, it would be helpful to be Latino.”

You seem to think that all it takes to win the Latino vote is a shared heritage with us. That even though you’ve said you’d veto the Dream Act and support Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, we would all vote for you if your last name was Lopez or Rodriguez. That instead of casting our ballots based on the candidate’s policies and values, we only care about appearances. Frankly, I find your position extremely offensive.

Unlike you, I will not generalize. I won’t speak on behalf of all Latinos. But I want you to know, unequivocally, that this Latina will not vote for you. No even if you ask me to in Spanish, while eating a jalapeño, and dancing to a cumbia. I will not vote for you Mr. Romney, not in a million years.

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