Originally published in The Huffington Post, 09/28/2011
A few hours ago, HuffPost LatinoVoices and AOL Latino interviewed President Obama during the first roundtable of its kind made available to digital media. More than any declaration, the mere organization of a roundtable meeting with President Obama for Hispanic media was a confirmation of a shift for this Administration.
The event, which took place during Hispanic Heritage Month, was evidence that the Obama Administration intends to recuperate the support of the Latino community. Whether we agree or disagree with Obama in this never ending political campaign, the President showed a deep understanding of the intricacies of the issues that are dear to Hispanics, and of the priorities needed to improve the standing of the Latino community.
First, Obama said, is education. With it, we’ll achieve not only social and economic progress, but also further participation and integration with the rest of the country. He also justly asked those that can to become citizens, to register, so they can vote and participate in the political process.
Mr. Obama answered a total of 15 questions, asked by myself and by representatives from MSN Latino and Yahoo! En Español. All questions were sent by readers from our sites, in Spanish and English, from Facebook and Twitter. Thousands of questions, observations, critiques, statements, comments, requests and even blessings and curses were submitted. HuffPost LatinoVoices and AOL Latino selected questions that were relevant and authentic, representing some of the most crucial interests of Hispanics in the United States.
Joining me at the roundtable, were Karine Medina, Executive Producer at MSN Latino, who came from Seattle, Washington, and Jose Siade, Head of Editorial and Network Programming at Yahoo! Latin America, from Miami, Florida.
The President was explicit and thorough when asked about immigration reform, the DREAM Act, the federal investigation of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and even how immigration reform and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) interact.
He was asked why payments for elders receiving Social Security had not increased, the conditions for improved bilateral relations with Cuba, his recent bill proposal for the creation of jobs, bullying against minorities in schools, relations with Mexico, influx of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico after operation Fast and Furious, Health Reform and, lastly, his certainty that there will be a Latino President in his lifetime.
These topics added to the impression that even if the immigration topic is of particular interest for the Hispanic community, there are no «Latino issues» per se, because we Latinos are an integral part of this society, and inherently participate in all of its shared experiences and contradictions. Or, like millions of protesters in the streets of our major cities said five years ago as they demanded the attention of President Bush «Aquì estamos, y no nos vamos.»
We are here, and we’re not leaving.