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‘They may stay home’: Chuck Rocha on 2020 Latino voter outreach | News



The 2020 US presidential contest is entering its final stretch, with the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden navigating an uncertain landscape. They are pitching their cases to the electorate amid widespread unrest about police brutality towards Black people and concern about the state of the economy, while many states are struggling to fully reopen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden continues to lead in national polls, although the race has tightened considerably in crucial battleground states, which tend to decide the race.

Chuck Rocha, a political consultant and former senior adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, has worked for years to craft strategies for outreach to Latino voters. Sanders looked set to win the Democratic nomination before an unprecedented consolidation of moderate support for Biden before Super Tuesday. Sanders did this, in part, by winning huge swaths of the Latino electorate, thanks in part to Rocha’s Latino outreach strategy.

Since Sanders suspended his campaign in April, Rocha started the first all-Latino Super Political Action Committee, Nuestro PAC, and heads Solidarity Strategies, a non-profit, full-service political consulting firm.

Rocha has been working to help Democrats win in 2020 by aiming to boost the Latino turnout in key states, and has released his Latino outreach strategy in a new book, Tio Bernie. 

Al Jazeera spoke with Rocha on the state of the race and Latino outreach.

Al Jazeera: We’re seeing Trump close the gap in a lot of the important swing states. What do you attribute this to?

Chuck Rocha: No matter who the candidates are anybody who’s worked in politics more than 30 seconds knows that as you get closer to Labor Day folks start … “coming home.” We always expected it to tighten, to a certain degree, when you add in an age of corona, and what’s going on with the economy, and then you add in people of colour dying at a higher rate, people of colour having more anxiety because we’re losing our insurance and our jobs at a higher rate than white people. You have the perfect storm for a lot of just overall anxiety, and then … you have these virtual contests and virtual conventions that nobody really paid attention to.

The Latino community in Houston has been especially hard-hit during the coronavirus pandemic [John Moore/Getty Images via AFP]

And then you have independent voters who have been flocking to Biden over the summer, a lot of those are “Republican-light”. With the convention – “the show”, I would call it more than a “convention” – that Donald Trump had, you’re going to get a few percentage points of those folks to come back.

Trump had to do three things in that convention: Show that he wasn’t crazy, that white people that were leaning away from him would come back home, and then dig into the high percentages of the Black and Brown vote that Biden was getting. I think he accomplished all three.

Al Jazeera: What do you think the Biden campaign should do to appeal to Latino voters in swing states, where they often are overlooked? Do they have a special set of needs or desires among the Latino electorate?

Rocha: I just finished writing a book called, Tio Bernie, that outlines this in great detail. It’s not some silver-bullet policy position that gets Latinos to vote for you. It’s the very elementary act of just going and asking for that vote. Meeting them where they’re at, and then having a conversation about what’s going on in their lives and how you can make their lives better.

So to answer the question, I would say, they need to be asking those Latinos in Wisconsin, in Michigan, and telling them what Joe Biden is going to be doing for them to make their lives better in the age of corona.

Now, what worries me is that I’m not seeing a lot of Spanish language advertising from the Biden campaign in those states. They have started … I’m seeing more spending which makes me feel better, but it’s not enough compared to the white spending.

I’ve been running Spanish ads [through] Nuestro PAC … in Michigan, but right now, if you take the aggregate of all of the dollars that have been donated outside of the campaign to independent expenditures, Latino focused super PACs have gotten less than 1 percent of the $500m I’m currently tracking that went to white super PACs that are focused on white persuadable voters.

So that to me … is very alarming. Our community is not getting the information they need … I’m afraid they may stay at home. Because if we don’t get the money to go and talk to them like I did in Bernie Sanders’ primary race, it’s a proven fact that Latinos underperform, but like, I write about in the book when you do invest in them and you do have a conversation, they will show up in extraordinary rates … way better than white persuadable voters.

Al Jazeera: If the Republican Party were to change some of its more controversial stances and reach out to Latinos, do you think the Latino populace would be in the pocket of the Democratic party 20 years down the road?

Rocha: No, no, no. The numbers bear it out. If you look at the way Latinos are registering to vote, who are coming of age and registering at a much larger rate than white people, they are registering as a non-party preference voter. They’re registering as not a Democrat or Republican and the reason behind that is obviously Republicans don’t talk to them because they’re ideologically more left … the base of what a Bernie Sanders supporter would be.

And then the Democrats don’t talk to them because they’re not a “prime voter” – a regular voter with regular voting history. So they don’t really get talked to, and normally, their parents, who didn’t vote because the Democrats have never talked to them, are not teaching them to be Democrats.

That’s outside of small enclaves like East LA where La Raza is really strong or in New York City. Outside of the strongholds … Latinos don’t know who they belong to. So, as these people come of age, we continue to do politics in the same way, we’re creating this huge persuadable demographic that will not be beholden to any party, it becomes less Democratic every year as older, frequent primary voting Mexicans who are the base of the Democratic Party die off, [and their] children are not more open-minded to either party.

Al Jazeera: Are there any surprising electoral pitches that have had an impact on Latino voters this election?

Rocha: I’ve been doing focus groups in non-traditional places this year with infrequent Latino voters. Let’s take North Carolina, where they have this growing Latino population of mainly children of immigrants who went there to work in the textile and farming. I had two sets of focus groups where we’ve separated the men and the women. And what we found was: A) Neither one of the groups really trusted or liked to Donald Trump, but they were tired of hearing about his rhetoric, and B) both groups wanted to know what the Democrats are [and what] Joe Biden was going to do with them.

They knew … that Bernie was for a $15 minimum wage, he was for healthcare for all, for a Green New Deal and the basic things that Bernie Sanders talks about in his sleep.

biden sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders pulled out of the presidential race in April, providing former Vice President Joe Biden a clear path to the nomination [File: Matt Rourke/AP Photo]

But the thing that was really striking to me is, and it was reinforced with the Republican convention … is how much more conservative and open-minded the men were to liking Donald Trump and liking messaging around “Law and Order”.

This don’t mean that Trump would get a majority of men … but they could cut off 2 percent, 3 percent, 5 percent that maybe won’t vote for Trump, but would stay home.

Some would move to Trump around this messaging [mostly middle-aged men] who have families who are working a middle-class job, or lower-middle-class, who do worry about the violence that they see on TV.

Trump is connecting it to what’s going on in the country. It’s a smart electoral strategy as much as it’s a horrible policy, in my opinion.

Al Jazeera: Do you see a comprehensive effort in the Democratic Party to understand the differences in various Latino demographics or electoral strategies? 

Rocha: No, there’s not. I think that there are good faith efforts. It’s been a slow waking-up to this problem. And we, we still haven’t addressed the core root of it, which is when the paid communication starts. They still see us as just “Latinos”, as just somebody who goes knocks on other Latino doors, or is in charge of some feckless, non-budgeted Latino department in a party apparatus … or campaign. And they don’t see us as part of the overall hierarchy of campaigns.

You just started seeing that changing in the presidential primary we had people of colour in leadership positions which is the first time ever in the history of American politics was so many. Me with Bernie, [Representative Joaquin Castro]’s manager, [Senator Kamala Harris’] manager … that was the first big change I saw.

I think it’s important that I released the book at this time around the conventions on purpose, people were telling me I was stupid because I was giving away my secrets and they can just do what’s in the book. Good. The book says go to our community and invest money.

Start as early as you can. It’s not rocket science.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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