Long Lines Don't Stop Latino Voters in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT, MI – By Martina Guzman, FI2W Reporter

Undeterred by long lines, Latino voters in Southwest Detroit came out in droves today to cast their ballot for president.

“This is the election where Latinos are really going to count,” said 77-year-old Bill Ojeda, a Korean War veteran. Ojeda was a little shy about saying he voted for Obama, but quickly remarked that he liked Obama’s philosophy in dealing with global conflict.

“I don’t mind taking care of the world but I think we should take care of America first,” Ojeda said.

The unusually warm weather for November made voting seem like a community event. Neighbors exchanged friendly ‘hellos’ and asked each other about whom to vote for in local races. Latina mothers, grandmothers and first-time voters arrived together. Twenty-year-old Eliseo Fuentes was thrilled to be voting for the first time. He was well informed, articulate and said immigration is the most important issue for him.

“Neither candidate is talking about immigration,” he said. Ultimately, Fuentes made his decision based on who he though would be better equipped to handle America’s financial crisis. “We live here and we need someone who can take care of the economy now,” he said.

Another first-time voter, Carlitos Candelario, from Puerto Rico, said he feels McCain is the right man for Latinos in America. “Obama is not for the Hispanic community,” he said.

Both young voters went to the polls with their families. Fuentes said twice as many of his family members are voting in this election than in 2004. Michigan expects eighty percent of eligible Latino voters to make it to the polls today—the highest turnout in the state’s history.

Martha Solis, 83 and Martha Kerr, 73 made the short walk from their homes. They said they waited until mid-morning to avoid the long lines. Kerr said she was proud to be voting for a black man for president. “It will open doors for other races,” she said. “The audacity of hope that they could one day become president.”

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AboutMartina Guzman
Martina Guzmán is a former Feet in 2 Worlds reporter. She has for the past 15 years specialized in creative production with an emphasis on stories by and about Latino communities. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communication from Madonna University, an A.A. in Photography from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit; and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University. She currently works as a feature reporter for WDET, the NPR affiliate in Detroit, Michigan.