01:17 - Source: CNN
Bronx protester slams Ted Cruz

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Rodrigo Venegas said Ted Cruz is not welcome in the Bronx

Venegas is part of the hip hop duo Rebel Diaz

CNN —  

Ted Cruz’s early April campaign stop in the Bronx was met by some protests and a heated confrontation with a community organizer and the son of Chilean immigrants, who called Cruz a “right-wing bigot” who has no business being in the Bronx.

“What offends me about Ted Cruz and about politicians like this guy is the idea that you can just come to an immigrant community … where we arrived because of their foreign policies, and not acknowledge that immigration is a U.S. foreign policy issue,” Rodrigo “RodStarz” Venegas told CNN in a phone interview.

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Venegas is part of the hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz with his brother Gonzalo.

“We always talk about immigration being this domestic issue that the U.S. is going through, but U.S. foreign policy has made living conditions unlivable for people abroad,” Venegas said, pointing to U.S economic and political policies in countries like Mexico, Honduras, Syria and Chile that led people to flee to the United States.

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The Cruz campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cruz was invited to the borough by state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a conservative Christian minister, to listen to the “social, economic and spiritual needs” of the community, but for Venegas, Cruz’s presence in the Bronx was deeply “offensive.”

“Ted Cruz has no business being in the Bronx,” Venegas shouted at Diaz. “We live in one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, and to receive this right-wing bigot is an insult to the whole community.”

Venegas pointed to issues like gentrification, which is leading to “displacement” and “environmental racism” that disproportionally affects low-income communities in polluted neighborhoods. He also attended protests against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and said that he will not be voting for anyone in the New York primary, but he always votes “through action.”

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Venegas is the co-founder of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, a community center in the South Bronx that provides free educational and cultural workshops by inviting carpenters, electricians, artists and musicians to youth in the low income community.