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Marcy Kaptur has been a friend to Latinos during her 2-decade-plus tenure as the 9th District’s Houserep

By Rico de La Prensa

Marcy Kaptur has represented the 9th district of Ohio in the United States congress for over twenty-two years, having been first elected in 1982.

Kaptur, a Democrat, has been unpopular with many politicians in Washington , D.C. , because of her independent stance and assertiveness—Kaptur is issue-oriented as opposed to party-oriented. Her district was even recently redrawn by the majority-controlled Republican congress, to include most of Lorain County (excepting the Democratic-controlled city of Lorain ), in the hope that this would aid in her demise last November.

This was not to be, with Kaptur winning easily over Larry Kaczala (Lucas County Auditor), garnering 68% of the vote.

Why? Because Congresswoman Kaptur has been an extremely effective advocate for her district, especially for blue collar and minority workers.  

As an example, look at her stance on NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement). Kaptur had been opposed to NAFTA from inception, despite pressure from the Clinton administration, and she reminded this reporter that the past 11 years bears out her position, “that NAFTA has had a devastating impact on workers, costing losses of jobs and income, both in the United States and México.” 

January 11, 2005 marked the eleventh anniversary of NAFTA’s implementation. NAFTA promoters, including many of the world’s largest corporations, promised it would create hundreds of thousands of new high-wage U.S. jobs, raise living standards in the U.S. , México, and Canada , improve environmental conditions, and transform México from a poor developing country into a booming new market for U.S. exports.

NAFTA opponents, including labor, environmental, consumer, and religious groups, argued that NAFTA would launch a race-to-the-bottom in wages, destroy hundreds of thousands of good U.S. jobs, undermine democratic control of domestic policy-making, and threaten health, environmental, and food safety standards.

History has proven that the NAFTA opponents, including Kaptur, to be the most accurate in their assessments.

For the same reasons, Kaptur is opposed to CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement). “CAFTA would be an extension of NAFTA, a recipe for more job losses,” reiterated Kaptur.  

Social Security

The Congresswoman is opposed to changes in Social Security, as suggested by President George W. Bush, “especially how it would affect Latinos.”

Kaptur had the statistics right at her fingertips.

“We shouldn’t gamble with Social Security. It is after all an insurance program and not an investment one. Statistics show that Latinos are 40 percent more likely to be disabled than non-Latinos, and they need this security. Latinos live 3-4 years longer than non-Latinos. They need this security.

“Currently, 21.3 million Latinos receive Social Security—75 percent of them rely on Social Security for the majority of their income, and for 41 percent of them, it is their only income. We should not tamper with the effectiveness of this program. Such changes would be detrimental to the majority of Latinos,” remarked Kaptur, “with approximately 40 percent cuts in benefits to them.”

Latino causes

During her tenure, Kaptur has been very supportive of Latino issues, Latinos, and Latin America, including her recent co-sponsorship of several bills/resolutions honoring César E. Chávez.

She welcomes the community to honor Chávez and even suggests that some federal funding would be available for such a project, such as “the commissioning of a Latino artist to build a statute in a historical setting, honoring this great Mexican-American labor leader.”

Kaptur was not certain as to what venues were the most appropriate, be they the Green Belt, Schneider Soccer Complex, or some park, “but the place selected should be a public place and very visible, with historical significance in mind.”

“A committee should be established for community-input in establishing the appropriate venue or venues for Chávez,” said Kaptur, “but I strongly support such an undertaking.”

She refers to the late Judge Joseph A. Flores as “a most extraordinary human being” and has been highly supportive of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and its president, Baldemar Velásquez, calling its September, 2004 contract with the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, “a world-class achievement.”

“The provisions of FLOC’s contract should have been in the original provisions of NAFTA, once enacted, but they weren’t,” said Kaptur.

“Toledo is an amazing city. It is on the cutting edge. Who would have thought that Toledo would be the location of the Mt. Olive contract? Most would have guessed Los Angeles, Chicago, or some city in the southwest,” exclaimed the congresswoman.

Marcy has also been supportive of establishing better ties with México, be they economic, social, or economic. She believes that changes need to be made relative to the Latino guestworkers in the United States and as suggested by Velásquez of FLOC and other civil rights groups.

“I look forward to Victor Suárez coming to Toledo in May. Hopefully, the trip will aid in developing better ties between this area and México,” said Kaptur.

Suárez is a Mexican Congressman and is one of the leaders of ANEC and the rejuvenated farmers’ movement in México, “El Campo no Aguanta Mas,” which recently won some concessions from the Mexican government on farm policy and NAFTA.

Kaptur believes that legislation by and between the United States and México needs to be enacted that addresses these problems along with the high remittance that Latino guestworkers pay when they direct billions of dollars earned in the U.S. to Latin America, which “can range between 20 and 40 percent if taxed at both sides of the borders.”

Kaptur was proud to be part of a six-person U.S. Congressional delegation to México in 2003 that addressed these issues, with a published report in 2004, called: “NAFTA at Ten, Journey to México.” 

A future article in La Prensa will address the history and implications of this report—a copy of this report appears on line at laprensatoledo.com, in pdf format.

In concluding the interview with La Prensa, Congresswoman Kaptur expressed some concerns about the Real ID Act that recently passed the House and was in the process of evaluating its impact. [See page 3 of La Prensa concerning this act.]

“I am proud to be representing the citizens of the 9th district and will continue to keep their interests at heart,” concluded Kaptur.  

NAFTA Report





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