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My family’s story begins in Cuba, with my grandmother Yeya. She and my mother came to Florida from Cuba during the Freedom Flights in the early 1960s with only a suitcase and no money. My grandmother worked in Miami factories more than 70 hours a week, where she was exploited and was forced to accept harsh working conditions in order to make a life for her family.
A victim of the system and enmeshed in trying circumstances, my biological mother was caught in a cycle of drugs, crime, and violence while pregnant. She didn’t have healthcare and wasn’t able to see a doctor even once. As the mother of seven, she made the difficult decision to put me up for adoption because she lacked the resources to care for and raise another child.
As a young man, I experienced police abuse firsthand and saw my community ravaged by gun violence. And I’ve experienced how working people and people of color are unjustly marginalized and left behind in our society.
MEDICARE FOR ALL
The United States has failed to provide a basic social minimum to its citizens. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how cruel and irrational employer-based private insurance is, leaving millions of newly unemployed Americans without care when they needed it most. Americans get sicker, die younger, and pay more for their healthcare than any of their peers in comparable nations. Death and sickness are driven by the greed of private insurers, the indifference of easily corrupted politicians, and wall street speculation. They keep America sick to line their pockets. We do not have a private healthcare system; we have an illness industry. Care must not be a consumer good. No American should gamble with their life or live in fear of losing their benefits.
ENDING GUN VIOLENCE
40,000 Americans die due to gun-related deaths each year. The most vulnerable members of our society account for the majority of those deaths. Mass violence has robbed my generation of our childhoods and cut many of our lives short. The attempts to simply regulate the sale of weapons haven’t worked. That’s why I support a holistic approach to gun violence, developed and championed by the Gun Violence Prevention movement.
STOPPING THE NEXT PANDEMIC
Millions of people lost their lives and our country suffered a $16 trillion economic loss because of Covid-19. It is absolutely critical that we make serious investments in pandemic preparedness now in order to avoid the next pandemic, which could be even worse than our current one.
The greatest challenge facing our country and the world is the climate crisis. The effects of climate disasters are compounded by already existing inequalities of class and race. Frankly, the continuity of the species depends on whether or not we transition from a carbon-dependent economy to one which is powered by green technologies and green jobs. If there is a future, it is a green future. We cannot hesitate and we cannot let big-oil, big-business, and the 1% decide our fates for us.
The billions of dollars in federal grants which flow from Washington DC to state prisons and police forces exacerbate the policing and prison crisis, encouraging more arrests, more aggressive prosecution, and unnecessary incarceration. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its prisoners. Beyond the cruelty of our penal systems, mass incarceration contributes significantly to the American poverty rate, destroys the futures of its victims, and accelerates the cycles of violence it’s supposed to prevent.
HOUSING & TRANSIT
One of the most intimate parts of your life is where you live and how you move around. For too long, our elected leaders have not paid enough attention to how their actions – or lack of action – have affected these aspects of your life. And, importantly, these things are very closely related. If we are going to build strong communities with abundant, affordable housing, then we have to build a fair, sustainable transportation system to move people around. And if we are going to invest in smart transportation like buses, rail, and safe streets for all ages to enjoy, then we have to have a sufficient level of housing to support those forms of transportation.
If we continue to think about housing and transportation separately, we will continue down our path of long commutes, environmental degradation, and unaffordability. It’s time for a smarter vision of how we build our cities, our towns, and our neighborhoods.
There is a housing crisis in our nation, and in Central Florida in particular. When adjusting for wages, the greater Orlando area is the fifth least affordable in the country for housing. Every day, the burden of excessive rent and housing costs rob Central Floridians of the financial stability they need to pay down debt, start businesses, form families, plan for the future, and live comfortable lives.