Hamilton Heights Hispanics Turn Out to Vote

Joaquin arrives at the polling station on 626 de Riverside Drive and calls out to a man waiting outside, pointing to him and asking: “Trump?”

The answer comes in Spanish and leaves no room for doubt: “Are you kidding?” Joaquin cannot help but show his dismay, “I can’t believe it!”

Like Joaquin, many voters coming and going from the River View residential building are latinos, joining the line on the first floor as they wait to vote in the 2016 presidential elections. Unlike Joaquin, however, most of those interviewed by Maquina Latina have the opposite opinion of who should be elected this October 8th.

“I’m voting because I want Hillary to win”, says Evelyn Rosario, whose black jacket sports an “I voted” sticker. “If I don’t vote, that’s one less vote for her.”
Gregory has little time and clear views: “We need to vote to push forward immigration reform. That’s the most important thing.”

They are the voters of Hamilton Heights, a neighborhood in northwest Manhattan by the Hudson River where the Spanish fills the streets in all its diversity. According to the 2010 census, 52 percent of its more than 48 thousand residents are hispanics, including Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and a growing number of Mexicans.

Many voters come to the polling station in families, like Patria and Mateo, mother and son with Cuban accents.

He says he came to vote to elect the candidate that represents Hispanics most, that all of his family has already done so. “And there’s a lot of them!”, he adds with a laugh.
Patria, his mother, is an elderly woman voting for the second time. Obama won the first one, “and now it’ll be Hillary.”

Neighbors greet each other as they climb up and down the steep slope of 139th street, between Riverside Drive and Broadway, on their way to the polling station. They say hello, stop to chat, comment on the voting line and the good weather. The ones going down 139th who already voted cheer on the one’s going up: “We’re going to win.”

Dina heads towards Broadway with her mother and daughter. “It’s important that latinos make their voices heard” she says as she holds her daughter’s hand.

That’s also Oscar Hernandez’s opinion, an elderly man accompanied by his daughter and his dog. He mulls over the question and speaks thoughtfully: “The country itself depends on the Hispanic population. All of us work in one way or another to make up for this country’s problems and our own.”

Meanwhile, Joaquín has finished voting, and is now accompanied by his wife and daughter. The spouses are in utter disagreement. Joaquin paraphrases Trump, saying he’s voting for the man who’ll make the country better; Jacqueline says she voted to honor her civic duty and her rights.

“So she’ll win,” she concludes.

“So he wins!” her husband retorts.

He then starts chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

It’s now his daughter who chimes in: “Noooo daddy, Hillary!” she says, as she hugs her mother’s leg.

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