How Green Can Latinos Get?
by Rebecca Crocker
Thursday, October 5, 2000
Hoping to strengthen the burgeoning Green Party-labor alliance, the Green Party is not on the sidelines in the duel for the Latino vote. Craig Coffin, Green Party candidate for 17th District U.S. Representative, who has been married to a Mexican woman for 20 years and uses his fluent Spanish to address newly naturalized citizens, says his party is using labor ties to appeal to liberal-minded Latino voters who may feel the Democrats haven''t paid them proper mind.
Medea Benjamin, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate and leader of the San Francisco-based human rights group Global Exchange, is working hard on the Central Coast to add a Teamsters endorsement to her already long list of labor supporters. As the largest organization representing Latinos on the Central Coast, the Teamsters may hold the key to the Latino vote for the Greens.
But while the folks at VOTE! and the Citizenship Project agree that Benjamin and the Greens are breaking new ground with Latinos, Citizenship Project director Paul Johnston maintains that "people in the Latino community still don''t know the Green Party. They think the Greens love trees more than people."
Ralph Nader''s visit to the Teamsters'' headquarters in Salinas last month is a case in point, says Johnston. The Citizenship Project distributed thousands of fliers, but the crowd was almost as white as George W. Bush''s trainside mariachi party. According to Johnston, Nader also made the mistake of avoiding immigration rights questions and trying to equate his having learned English as an Lebanese immigrant to the condition of Latino immigrants today. Says Johnston, "Nader is from a well-off, educated family. There''s just no comparison."