In an effort to ramp up Latinx voter participation for the 2018 midterm elections, Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and Grammy-nominated salsa singer Frankie Negrón announced their support of a new voter mobilization coalition titled Respeta Mi Gente, or Respect My People. By partnering with nonprofit groups Hispanic Federation and Alianza for Progress, the stars are lending special attention to Puerto Rican communities in Central Florida, in hopes to rally them to the polls by November 6th.
“There was such a massive influx of Puerto Ricans to the mainland after Hurricane Maria,” said Miranda during a media call on Monday. “One of the most important things they can do is vote for the candidates [who] have been paying attention to what’s been happening on the island.”
In addition to television and radio ads, the coalition has stepped up its multimedia campaign with a musical contribution by Negrón, also dubbed “Respeta Mi Gente.” Originally sung by the late great Hector Lavoe and the Fania All Stars, the 1975 salsa classic “Mi Gente” is given the remix treatment by Negrón, who boasts the power of the Puerto Rican vote alongside recordings of Lavoe’s voice. “We’re using Hector Lavoe’s song and voice to address what a difficult year this has been for Puerto Ricans, and for all Latinos in general,” said Negrón.
“No campaign is complete without a song,” said Frederick Vélez, organizing director of Respeta Mi Gente. “We’re speaking to our Puerto Rican community in a very cultural way.”
Although residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, are not permitted to vote, the number of Puerto Ricans living in the United States — estimated at 5.4 million in 2016 — are able to cast ballots in November. That number rose by approximately 30,000 this year, which accounts for islanders displaced by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Florida currently has the highest concentration of Puerto Rican stateside residents, most heavily concentrated in Central Florida — a key battleground in this year’s midterms.
“Puerto Rican and Latino voters in Florida are a rapidly growing and critical segment of the state’s voting population,” said Jose Calderón, President of Hispanic Federation. “Their concerns and aspirations should be top of mind for anyone running for office in the Sunshine State.” Early voting is currently underway in all 50 states; the general midterm elections take place on November 6th.