3 generations of Latinas take the right to vote seriously

Florida women talk about importance of civic engagement
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    Florida women talk about importance of civic engagement


Florida women talk about importance of civic engagement 01:46

Story highlights

  • Luz Weinberg, a former city council memberi n Florida says part of her duty as a mother is to encourage civic participation
  • Weinberg was inspired by her mother and has in turn inspired her daughter, although their political beliefs differ

Aventura, Florida (CNN)Jessica Urbaez has not yet turned 18, the minimum voting age in the United States.

But she already considers herself a veteran in the electoral process.
"I remember when I was very young. I used to go to the polls with my mom, and I would feel so excited about being part of something I didn't quite understand," says Urbaez.
    Her mother, Luz Weinberg, is a former city council member of Aventura, Florida, a Miami suburb. Weinberg believes part of her duty as a mother is to encourage civic participation in her children.
    Weinberg, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic in 1985, has traveled the country speaking about the relevance of Latin women in the U.S. political process.
    "Even if we have done some progress -- in the Hispanic culture -- the man has a job and the woman stays at home," Weinberg says, adding, "and working women still have to worry about being in charge of their home and children."
    This has an influence on what children hear about politics. Besides, Latin women rarely go to vote on their own.
    "We go with the children or with mom and an aunt," she says, which increases family involvement in politics.
    Women's political influence on the Latino vote in Florida has been quantified in a study by CUNY and CNN, which reveals that in 2014, 53% of the Latin electorate in Florida was made up of women who voted in a greater proportion than men.
    When country of origin is considered, the study shows 59% of women of Colombian descent register to vote; Dominican descent, 55%; Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, 52%; and nearly half of women of Mexican descent.
    At a national level, the 2014 census reveals that in general there are more women registered to vote and their participation level is higher than men's.
    But Weinberg says that in the Latin community, especially among those who immigrated recently to the United States, people seem to be more mindful of political participation because many have come from countries with a history of political turmoil.
    She cites her mother, Ángela García, as an example.
    "She was throwing rocks against Trujillo in Santo Domingo," says Weinberg. Rafael Trujillo was a dictator in the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961.
    "I liked talking politics and I had my discussions with people who did not share my political ideas," says García.
    Weinberg says that once she came to the United States, civic involvement became a duty to her new country.
    "Why would you be an American citizen if you're not going to vote?" Weinberg says. She recognizes the challenge lies in preventing the new generations from forfeiting that responsibility.
    Even if the relevance of getting involved in politics seems to be part of the family heritage, political ideology is not.
    García says she is a Democrat, Weinberg considers herself a Republican and Urbaez identifies herself as an independent.
    "The message has to be citizen participation and I believe this is a responsibility in every home," says Weinberg.
    Urbaez will turn 18 a few days after the March 15 primaries in Florida, but she says she is ready to help choose the next president in November.