Politicker reports that Dominican Ambassador Roberto Saladin has thrown his support behind the push to create a new predominantly Latino Congressional district in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. Mr. Saladin sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo last Tuesday describing the creation of the district as
[A] “question of utmost importance” for the Dominican Diaspora that would “open the opportunity to elect a Congressman of Dominican origin to the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C.” (Underline is my emphasis)
IMHO this is an unprecedented intervention by a foreign government in the creation of a US congressional district. I know that Ambassador Saladin’s letter does not rise to the level of President Johnson sending American troops to Santo Domingo to quell a supposed “communist danger” after uprisings against the military controlled government there in April 1965. But now as then, it’s an unwarranted interference in an internal matter affecting US residents.
Imagine the uproar if China’s Ambassador came out in support of candidates for the new Asian American districts in Queens and Brooklyn. Senator Adriano Espaillat did himself a disservice by being a party to Ambassador Saladin’s political lobbying.
I urge Governor Cuomo to politely turn aside the Ambassador’s letter. The Voting Rights Act was not enacted to create beachheads for foreign regimes. The VRA was meant to be a short term solution to systemic racial discrimination and election procedures that diminished the effective political participation of black Americans. It was later amended to include language minorities (i.e., Native Americans, Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans) residing in the American Southwest and Northeast.
The continued misapplication of the VRA is quickening its demise as relevant legislation. I urge the Legislature and/or the court-assigned special master to ignore plans that violate the spirit of the VRA by drawing special congressional enclaves for national groups, racial minorities, or religious groups.
UPDATE: The Dominican Ambassador to the United States Anibal de Castro says he is the only person able to speak on behalf of the Dominican government. Read his statement here.
Do you think that Ambassador Saladin’s letter endorsing a “Dominican” congressional district is appropriate?