By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Wilmington, DE (EFE) .-
Julie Chávez used to think that extremism was a relic of the past that her grandfather, the legendary labor leader César Chávez, had to fight.
Now, as Joe Biden’s campaign manager for the 2024 elections, she knows that she has inherited the mission of defending freedom and democracy against those who want to destroy it.
History is repeating itself for this 45-year-old woman, the first Latina to head a presidential campaign in the US.
Her grandfather César Chávez (1927-1993) was an American of Mexican origin who led a movement to defend farmworkers’ rights and became popular with his slogan “Sí se puede” (Yes, we can) six decades ago.
Chávez chose the iconic “Charcoal Pit” restaurant in Wilmington (Delaware) –the city where Biden grew up – as the setting for an exclusive interview with EFE.
QUESTION: What are the implications of the 2024 election?
ANSWER: I can’t think of a more consequential election when we think about what’s at stake for our country, for our communities. The kind of extremism that we’re seeing at this point in time, I never imagined I would see in my lifetime. I thought that it was something of the past. I thought that it was something that my grandfather, my grandparents, had fought hard for and won. I never thought I would have to carry the struggle forward in my lifetime.
Q: What did you learn from your grandfather?
A: So much. And it’s sort of fitting the music that has come on (in the restaurant).
He was an admirer of jazz. Many people don’t know that about him. But he had a jazz collection. He loved music, he would sometimes improvise the with his own version of jazz slang. And so when we were growing up as kids, we all had little nicknames like “skinny boom, boom” and “skinny beatbox”.
That was very enriching, getting to see one of the best organizers up close and getting to see how he brought people together, how he motivated people, how he valued everyone’s skill and talent, in order to really inspire a movement.
And I think that we’re called to that same task today, as we continue to build this campaign and ensure that we’re building the broad coalition that got us elected in 2020, and will definitely get us reelected in 2024.
Q: As you just mentioned, Biden was elected by different groups of voters, including the Latino community. In 2020, Biden won a majority of the Latino vote (59%), while Trump won 38%, still ten points more than in 2016. How does the campaign plan to attract this group of voters?
A: Firstly, we have already seen an overwhelming majority of Latinos supporting President Biden and Vice President Harris in 2020. In 2022, we continued to see Latinos supporting democratic candidates, and they helped us clinch so many of the key contests in the midterm elections. We will make sure that we do not take any vote for granted.
It’s one of the reasons why we’re already out communicating with Latino voters in all of our battleground states.
We’ve already been running ads in English and Spanish. We also have my favorite ad, the Spanglish one, which was something new, aimed at the younger Latino voters, knowing that over a million of them turn 18 every year.
Other things that we are doing include going on air on ESPN Deportes (Spanish sports channel), and thus reaching Latinos wherever they are. We are also on YouTube and digital platforms.
Q: Many Latinos are also concerned about US policy toward their countries of origin. If Biden is re-elected, what will be the top priority on his Latin America policy?
A: The President and Vice President have an in-depth understanding of the strategic partnership with Latin America and throughout the region. And they have ensured strategic investments and economic cooperation in so many ways. And so these investments will continue.
Moreover, we can also address, I think, the ongoing challenges that many of the countries are facing, while making sure that there are democratic governments in place across the region.
From our perspective, we know what it is the democratic values that are at stake, not just at home, but also overseas. And we want to be a beacon of democracy not just at home, but also to keep supporting countries in the entire region.
Q: Some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have used the term “communist” to attack Biden, especially among voters of Cuban and Venezuelan origin. What is your response to this?
A: Both President Biden and Vice President Harris continue strengthen our economic values, back strategic investments, and encourage entrepreneurship.
This is in sharp contrast to what we see from others, including former president Trump, who are cozying up to authoritarian dictators like Putin, and choosing to undermine some of the basic democratic values that are so important today, especially as we face an emboldened Russia, which is looking at seize power in the global economy.
Q: You just mentioned Russia. According to polls, American support for Ukraine has declined since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022. How are you handling the issue?
A: It’s important to support Ukraine because we know that it’s not just an issue in terms of Ukraine and the war that Putin has initiated. But that it is about fundamental democracy, it is about fundamental freedoms and the need for us to be able to bring the leadership of the world together to ensure that those democratic values can continue.
And I think it’s actually a testament to the (current) President’s experience, to his ability to bring together the world leaders, the trust and faith that they have in him to lead not just the US , but to continue to be a champion for democracy across the globe. EFE