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Latinos Tell NY Gov-Elect What They Want

by  Annie Correal, NY Community Media Alliance

NEW YORK - During his campaign, governor-elect Andrew Cuomo promised that his administration would be the most diverse in the history of the state.  Now organizations throughout New York have joined forces to demand that this promise be kept.

At simultaneous press conferences in different parts of the state – in New York City, Albany, Utica and Amsterdam – Latino leaders spoke about the so-called Latino Agenda, which was signed by more than 20 organizations, and which was delivered to the governor-elect's transition team, to be directed by Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-District 12). 

The Latino Agenda demands that the government "encourage participation by Latinos at all levels of state government." 

"The exclusion of Latinos [from State agencies] is one of the principal reasons for the neglect and the disadvantages that our community is facing," stated a communiqué released by the event's lead organization, The Latino Society. 

As of today, there are 168,000 state employees, and only 4 percent of them are Hispanic, according to data from The Latino Society, a network of 4,000 Latino professionals which investigates matters having to do with the community's welfare.  The agenda also demands improvement in various service areas, including access to health care, support for small businesses, and investigations of hate crimes and other violations of civil rights. 

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez responded in a communiqué: "Governor-elect Cuomo has a record – an incomparable one – of fighting for minority communities, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and later as Attorney General, and New Yorkers can feel secure that he will completely honor his commitment to fight for all of them when he takes office as governor." 

Still, the Congresswoman's communiqué did not touch on the specific points of the agenda. 

"[The Governor-elect and the Lieutenant Governor-elect] have had close ties to our community for years.  Therefore we have great expectations," said The Latino Society President Guillermo Martínez.

Doctor Elena Ríos added, "The challenges facing Hispanics, when we look at health, are enormous and costly.  Hispanics suffer from serious diseases, but are living longer lives. We need officials who understand these tendencies." 

Ríos and other experts on the health of Latinos spoke about the paucity of Latino doctors and Latino health professionals, and about the consequences this lack can have for patients.  "Just having Latinos in the administration can help the community," said Carmen Collado, director of the Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals. 

For his part, Alfred Placeres noted that having Hispanic officials in Cuomo's government would reflect the interests of the thousands of Hispanic businesses in the state. 

Other experts spoke about education and the strong need to increase the number of students who graduate from the SUNY university system. 

Besides The Latino Society, the list of organizations which signed the agenda included The National Hispanic Medical Association, New York State Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals, The National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health, and The Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives.


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC, LATINO, MEXICAN, MINORITIES, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, DIVERSITY, LATINA, RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY



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