Latino Leaders Convene First National Latino Congress in a Generation

Latino Leaders Convene First National Latino Congress in a Generation

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June 8, 2006

Azucena Maldonado, 213-804-8091 (Los Angeles, Ca) – The William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), the National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), and Earth Day Network (EDN) announced today (June 8th), that they are co-hosting, together with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the first comprehensive gathering of Latino leaders, organizations and elected officials since 1977, to be held September 6-10, 2006 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The announcement will be made simultaneously in Los Angeles and Dallas.

The National Latino Congress on Public Policy and Political Participation will engage all the members of the Latino political, advocacy, and economic families in a dialogue, with the goal of moving forward with a comprehensive agenda. The themes of the Congress will blend historic Latino priorities such as immigration reform, voting and civil rights, education reform, job creation, access to health care with a broader set up issues associated with this (and future) generation’s reality of ever increasing Latino governance, such as urban greening, climate change, public health, trade/foreign policy, energy policy, and so on.

Specifically, this Congress will establish a long-term Latino agenda and action plan, educate and train a wide range of Latino community leaders, elected officials and activists on critical issues, and mobilize Latino community leaders with a special emphasis on establishing opportunities for new and young leaders.

WCVI President Antonio González , John Trasvina, Acting President of MALDEF, and Angela Sanbrano, President of NALACC will formally announce the Latino “Congress” in Los Angeles, one of two news conferences to be held simultaneously on Thursday, June 8th at 9:00 am (PST), 11am (CST).

Co-host WCVI is a non-partisan Latino think-tank, which conducts policy advocacy and opinion research aimed at improving the level of policy participation in Latino and other underrepresented communities.

“It is time that we martial our policy advocates and elected officials to gather far 1 of 3 more policy benefits than we are currently achieving. Never before has the Latino community enjoyed the possibilities incumbent with having 10 million voters, 5,000 elected officials, and a collective $1.3 trillion GDP. This “Congress” will bring together policy leaders at all levels in the first effort in a generation to hammer-out a consensus, comprehensive policy and electoral agenda,” commented WCVI President Antonio Gonzalez.

The Congress is expected to draw 2,000 delegates representing leaders from government, community organizations, labor and business community, religious groups, student organizations, environmental, health and community development groups.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is the leading nonprofit Latino litigation, advocacy and educational outreach institution in the U.S. with a mission to foster sound public policies, laws and programs to safeguard the civil rights of the 40 million Latinos living in the United States and to empower the Latino community to fully participate in our society.

“The Latino Congress in September will bring together grassroots leaders from across the nation for a plan of action on immigration and voting rights,” said John Trasvina, MALDEF interim president and general counsel. “Now more than ever, we need a strategy that advances the activism we saw in March and May and makes sure that the Latino voice is heard in city halls, state capitols and Washington, D.C.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization in the U.S. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide. The organization involves and serves all Hispanic nationality groups.

“The new American civil rights movement needs to have a national Congress to debate and discuss the ideas regarding America’s future as a nation of immigrants and opportunity,” said Domingo Garcia, National Civil Rights Director of LULAC.

Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) empowers Latinos politically by increasing Latino participation across the US in the democratic process. “This Congress presents an opportunity for Latinos to galvanize the 2 of 3 momentum created by the immigrant mass movement,” said SVREP Vice President Lydia Camarillo. “The ‘Congress’ will be a giant festival of democracy and training experience for a new generation of young Latino electoral leaders. We pledge to mobilize our entire leadership network to participate.”

The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) is a network of Latin American and Caribbean immigrant-led organizations working to raise the quality of life in their communities, both in the United States and in countries of origin. “The historical mobilizations of immigrants and their allies opened a new chapter in the political empowerment of Latinos, said NALACC President Angela Sanbrano. “The National Latino Congress is an important and timely gathering of Latino leaders in the movement toward a unified political agenda.” The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC) is a nonprofit membership based organization that seeks to educate, unite, and engage the Hispanic community on environmental and sustainable development issues. “The Latino Congress on Public Policy and Political Participation is much-needed,” said NHEC President Roger Rivera. “It is critically important that our community be able to discuss and develop environmental policies and programs that will recognize and truly benefit all Latinos.”

For the past five years, Earth Day Network (EDN) has been working with Latino organizations to educate and train emerging leaders on health, environment, and community development issues. ““This bold initiative will broaden, diversify and ultimately strengthen the U.S. Latino movement, particularly the environmental and health movement by incorporating the priorities and enlisting the support of the Latino community – the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S.,” said Kathleen Rogers, EDN president. “Of special interest is mobilizing the Latino community and political leaders on climate change and the health consequences of environmental pollution.”

Participants in the National Latino Congress on Public Policy and Political participation will come from across the USA. From the political community, the National Latino Summit will target widespread participation from the 5,000 plus U.S Latino elected officials, as well as the tens of thousands of local, state and national Latino organizations.

Angela Sanbrano, NALACC, 213-385-0312
Domingo Garcia, LULAC, 214-912-6324
John Trasvina, MALDEF, 213-629-2512
Lydia Camarillo, SVREP, 210-922-0225
Antonio Gonzalez, WCVI, 323-222-2217
Kathleen Rogers, EDN, 202-518-0044
Roger Rivera, NHEC, 703-683-3956


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