November 15, 2022
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This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván and Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath, is 1,311 words, a 5-minute read.
1 big thing: Cortez Masto on how she won
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, whose re-election last week handed Democrats control of the Senate, tells Astrid constant outreach to Latino voters in Nevada was one of the reasons for her triumph.
Why it matters: Cortez Masto — the first and only Latina U.S. senator — narrowly beat Republican Adam Laxalt.
What she's saying: "The energy that I saw in the Latino community in both parts of the state — they were active, they were engaged, they were paying attention," Cortez Masto told Axios.
- "It's so important that no voter — whether it's Latino or AAPI or any voter — no voter should be taken for granted."
Details: Cortez Masto's campaign began airing Spanish-language ads in March that highlighted her family's Mexican roots and immigration story.
- It also ran English-language ads featuring Latinos, and several of her campaign staff leaders are Latino.
Yes, but: Cortez Masto held on to her seat by a tiny margin.
- Polling showed Laxalt, who focused on crime and inflation, narrowed the gap in the week before the election.
Zoom in: Latinos make up 30% of Nevada's population and account for a significant portion of the membership of the powerful labor unions that helped Cortez Masto win re-election.
What's next: Cortez Masto says she will continue to push for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country as children and for farmworkers, and to focus on combating inflation.
2. Mexican president insists on elections reform
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is moving forward with plans to reform the country's elections system despite massive protests this weekend, Marina writes.
Driving the news: Tens of thousands of people marched in more than a dozen Mexican cities Sunday against López Obrador's proposal to overhaul the National Electoral Institute (INE), with many saying it would threaten the institute's independence and give his party too much power over it.
- López Obrador says the reforms are necessary to "strengthen democracy" as he claims the INE and the electoral court are biased and that their budgets are unwieldy.
- Yesterday, he dismissed the protesters as "conservatives" and accused them of marching "in favor of corruption and classism."
- Critics argue his plan would concentrate more power under his Morena party. Lorenzo Córdova, head of the INE, said in an interview with El País that the president's proposed reform is half-baked.
Catch up quick: Currently, 11 INE commissioners are chosen for nine-year terms through an independent committee composed of representatives from Congress and autonomous government agencies.
- López Obrador wants to eliminate all of the INE's state-level electoral offices to have just one national organization for all elections. He also wants to allow the public, instead of the special committee, to choose the electoral commissioners from a list vetted by the president.
- The ruling party would also maintain voter rolls, which some experts say could lead to meddling.
State of play: The plan has divided Mexicans, with polls — including some conducted by the INE — showing about half of those surveyed favoring the replacement of the electoral body.
- Still, the majority of Mexicans approve of the INE.
3. Record at hand for Latino state lawmakers
With midterm results still coming in, Latino candidates — mostly Democrats — are expected to make record gains in state legislatures across the U.S., including Iowa and Vermont, where census data shows the Latino population has boomed since 2010, Russell writes.
Why it matters: Latinos have been the fastest-growing eligible voter group since at least 2018, according to the Pew Research Center.
By the numbers: So far, 64 new Latino Democrats and 15 new Latino Republicans have won state legislative seats, Kenneth Romero-Cruz, the executive director of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, told Axios.
- There are still some outstanding races, but this could bring the number of Hispanic state legislators to more than 500, which would be a record.
Zoom in: Of the 451 Hispanic state legislators in office before Tuesday's midterms, 87% were Democrats, and 13% were Republicans, Romero-Cruz said.
- That's a significant decline for Republicans since 2002, when around 30% of Hispanic state legislators were GOP members, Romero-Cruz said.
- "This further counters the false narrative of Republican gains in the Hispanic community. Latinos are overwhelmingly electing more and more Latinos running on the Democratic ticket," Kenneth Romero-Cruz said.
The intrigue: The midterms also showed how diverse Latinos are.
- Adam Zabner, Venezuelan American, became the second Hispanic ever elected to the legislature in Iowa's history.
- Latinos with Colombian, Salvadoran, Honduran, Cuban and Nicaraguan backgrounds were also elected around the country.
4. It's good, but it's bad: Latinos' economic state
U.S. Latinos account for the fastest-growing portion of the nation's total economic output, but their overall financial health is at risk, thanks to a lack of savings, a new report says.
Why it matters: The McKinsey & Company study is the latest to paint both a promising — and bleak — financial future for Latinos coming out of the pandemic.
By the numbers: Latinos' spending power had 6% compounded annual growth in the last decade, compared to 3% for the non-Latino U.S. population, per the report, titled "The Economic State of Latinos in the US: Determined to Thrive."
- Latinos’ net wealth has increased over the past decade at a 9% rate, compared to 4% for non-Latino white Americans. This is narrowing, but not closing, the overall wealth gap between the two groups, the report states.
Yes, but: Almost half of Latinos have little to no retirement savings and find it difficult to access financial products such as bank accounts, according to the report.
- Latino savings have been depleted since the pandemic, with almost half having little or no retirement savings.
- Only 23% of Latinos are considered financially healthy in 2022 compared to 35% of non-Latino white Americans.
What they're saying: "Latinos have also been more heavily impacted by COVID-19 and inflation than other populations, and this has exposed their vulnerabilities," the authors wrote in the report.
- Those vulnerabilities include a lack of representation on Fortune 500 boards and in C-suite positions.
- The authors recommend more investment in Latino entrepreneurs and say that more access to capital would contribute an additional $2.3 trillion in revenue to the economy and create more than 6 million jobs.
5. Stories we're watching
1. Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández appeared before a Manhattan court today for a hearing on his drug-trafficking charges.
- Hernández, who has pleaded not guilty and faces a life sentence, was extradited to the U.S. in April.
- U.S. authorities say he aided and abetted in cocaine and arms trafficking while he was in power (2014-2022).
2. The Inter-American Development Bank is set to choose its new president this week among five candidates from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Trinidad and Tobago.
- The last president, Mauricio Claver-Carone, was removed in September after revelations that he had a relationship with a subordinate to whom he gave salary increases. Claver-Carone was nominated for the post by then-President Trump.
6. Smile to go: 🥁 Drumming up a world record
Over 400 Venezuelan musicians broke a world record last week when they played as the largest-ever folk music orchestra, Marina writes.
Details: The band, composed of men, women and children, sang and used traditional instruments, including snare drums and requinto guitars.
- They played 10 "gaita" genre songs during the event, sponsored by the mayor's office of northwest Maracaibo.
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Carlos Cunha for the copy edits!