Tag Archives: Gustavo Torres

Torres Defends O’Malley in WaPo

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CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres wrote a letter to the editor of the Washington Post defending Gov. O’Malley’s actions on undocumented children:

The July 28 editorial “Mr. O’Malley’s rhetoric — and reality” implied that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) needs to do more to confront the immigrant crisis at the border, relying, in part, on a quote from me. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The governor has used his national profile at the most critical moment to refocus the conversation appropriately. This is a crisis of children fleeing unthinkable situations, kids that deserve our support. Mr. O’Malley was the first nationally prominent Democrat to challenge the White House’s attempt to roll back due-process protections for children, and, thanks in part to his leadership, many congressional leaders and prominent state representatives now agree.

Maryland has had the largest per-capita placement of unaccompanied minors by the federal government, with 2,205 sponsored children this year, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Maryland has jurisdictions that are solidly progressive, solidly right-wing and in the middle. Those that are solidly progressive are most amenable to addressing this crisis in a humane fashion. We believe, like the governor, that these are the locations where children should be housed before they are hopefully united with family members or placed in foster care. This is not, as The Post implied, political expediency.

 

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Thoughts on the D18 Delegate Fracas

Recently, Candidate Rick Kessler launched an attack against incumbent Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez for traveling to El Salvador as part of a delegation invited by the Salvadoran parliament to observe the legislative election. CASA Director Gustavo Torres criticized Rick’s statements in the strongest terms (see Rick’s reply here).

An interesting analysis of the politics of Rick’s choice to make an issue out of Ana’s travel from my email:

I had not seen Rick Kessler‘s attack on Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez.  Beyond my disagreement with the point he was trying to make, I don’t get it as a political tactic.  She was the first place finisher in the 2010 primary, not the third, so it seems likely that if you were picking someone to target [it wouldn’t be Ana].  So beyond angering at least one group of voters, what does he hope to accomplish?

A serious candidate, as Kessler appears to be, can’t seriously think he’ll beat Del. Gutierrez, so he must hope that by making this kind of attack he can get some Waldstreicher or Carr voters to give him their third vote.  The funny thing about that, given the approx. 1100 vote gap between Gutierrez and Carr, and the 500 vote gap between Gutierrez and Waldstreicher, is that if the strategy works he’s more likely to take down one of the other incumbents than Gutierrez.

A plausible analysis of the potential impact.

Others were taken aback by Gustavo’s claim that Rick’s attack was race-baiting. District 18 Resident Molly Hauck sent me a letter that included this paragraph:

[Mr. Torres] called Mr. Kessler‘s opinion “thinly disguised race-baiting.” I find this offensive and incendiary. If Ana Sol Gutierrez were to disagree with Mr. Kessler, would we attribute her opinion to his race, religion, country of origin, age, sex, or other personal characteristic? No. It would simply be described as a difference of opinion. When people play the race card, it creates conflict and increases discomfort between different ethnic groups. It is destructive. I hope that if in the future Mr. Torres disagrees with what a candidate says that he will find a different way of expressing it.

My own view is that Rick’s attack was a political mistake in a couple of different ways. First, his original statement suggested merely that Ana left for El Salvador only to vote but did not also mention that she was part of an official delegation to observe the elections and invited by the Salvadoran National Assembly and with the knowledge and approval of the the House Speaker.

Democracy promotion, particularly in a country where many of her constituents have close ties and fled for reasons related to a past civil war and human rights abuses, is a worthy public goal. While I can see why some might think she should stay in Maryland, this set her travel in a very different light.

Even more important, while I understand the desire of challengers to stand out from the pack, attacks generally don’t pay in these multi-candidate delegate elections. Instead of alienating supporters of another candidate, challengers should want to go around and get their votes too because voters possess multiple votes.

On the other hand, precisely because of the ability to give a very good explanation for Ana’s travel, Gustavo’s reply was overkill and polarizing. While it may galvanize support among some Latinos for Ana, it also left some whites, including some of Ana’s supporters, with a bad taste in their mouth.

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Kessler Responds to CASA’s Torres

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Rick Kessler issued the following comment in response to the strong defense of Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez’s decision to travel to El Salvador by CASA de Maryland’s Gustavo Torres .

This is a question of commitment to District 18.  It is about the choices made by one elected official who chose to be absent for two days during the recent Maryland Legislative Session to vote in the Salvadoran election when she could have voted by mail. The Legislative Session only runs for 90 days: I believe that the Session is important and that Delegates are elected to be present and participate. There were important Appropriations Committee budget hearings on those days that she could have attended and still voted in the El Salvador election by mail.I think the people of  District 18 deserve better: they have a right to expect that the priority of their elected legislators is to participate fully in the Maryland legislative process on behalf of the people who elected them.

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CASA Slams Kessler Attack

casa logoRecently, Delegate Candidate Rick Kessler (D-18) raised questions about Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez’s decision to travel to El Salvador during the session. CASA Director Gustavo Torres issued this statement in response:

I was extremely disturbed to recently learn that a candidate for state office in the 18th district has chosen to attack Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez for a trip she made to El Salvador during the past legislative session. Rick Kessler’s willingness to engage in this type of thinly-disguised race-baiting reveals that he is not the right representative for any district, let alone one as diverse as the 18th.

To recap, Delegate Sol Gutierrez missed two days of session in order to fly over a weekend to El Salvador and participate as an Official International Observer of the Salvadoran Presidential election. She traveled at the formal invitation of the Salvadoran National Assembly, an invitation that Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch not only approved but described as “an honor.” Legislators miss floor votes and committee hearings all the time due to illness, family emergencies, personal business, and to attend special events. It is hard to imagine an event more important than participating in a historic election for progressive change in a country whose past civil conflict has driven so much immigration to our region and whose leadership impacts so many close relatives of district residents. It seems an odd posture particularly for someone that is actually running for elected office and, we would assume, a believer in the importance of political participation.

I believe that the real purpose of these complaints is to surface that Delegate Sol Gutierrez remains engaged in her country of birth and to imply that this engagement somehow lowers her commitment to this country – one she is so dedicated to that she has chosen to dedicate 20 years to the unusually grueling life path of public service including, for the past 12 years, representing her home district in the Maryland House of Delegates. During the early 20th century, immigrants to the United States were frequently attacked for their continued affiliation with their country of origin and these arguments were used to support profiling, red-lining, and exclusion from political engagement. Reading the Bethesda Now piece, I was reminded once again how very far we have to go. As an organization whose very purpose is to engage immigrants in the political process, leaders like Delegate Gutierrez show that our responsibility is global, our lives cross borders, and our kids can strive to achieve extraordinary triumphs in a multicultural world.   While it is certainly true that not everyone in the 18th District has immigrated to this country, we believe that most of its residents honor diversity, celebrate immigration, and appreciate open cultural and civic engagement, here and abroad.

In closing, while it is true that CASA in Action has endorsed Delegate Sol Gutierrez as well as three additional candidates for delegate, I have not chosen to address this issue because of that support. Regardless of who you support, our community is better than the types of attacks that Mr. Kessler has chosen to engage in.

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