By Ana Palacios McBride (Contacto-Latino.com)
While the Tequila Party’s objective is to become to Latinos what the Tea Party is for middle class America; one of its biggest hindrances is in its branding, starting with the name. Some find it offensive. Some, not broad enough, not inclusive at all; and some don’t think they can take the group seriously with such name.
Latino Rebels, a media company led by Harvard graduate Julio Ricardo Varela, a Puerto Rican living in Boston, is part of a movement criticizing the name and some of the statements made by the Tequila Party. They launched a poll regarding the Tequila Party name. This is not the first time Varela has gotten into hot waters for criticizing DeeDee García Blasé, former founder and leader of Somos Republicans and founder of Tequila Party.
Garcia Blasé, an Arizonan of Mexican descent, wrote the following about Varela in her Facebook account:
“For the record, the owner of the Latino Rebels who is against the name of the Tequila Party is Puerto Rican (Julio), and we all know PR’s get automatic citizenship. I don’t think that Latino Rebels really feel what people of Mexican descent are going through right now and we have to be creative and controversial in a good way to get people to think about the importance of the Latino vote to promote pro-immigration politicians. It’s too bad Latino Rebels wasn’t more like Rep. Luis Gutierrez for Illinois. Julio (Latino Rebels) asked me why we didn’t name the movement “rum party”, and I think it has something to do with PR’s and Cubanos liking ‘rum’ more so than the ‘tequila’.”
Efrain Nieves, a stateside born Puerto Rican, commented on the above comment, which Varela posted on the Latino Rebels site. “Isolating the Mexican experience on immigration as unique is irresponsible. Granted that most of undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. are from Mexico, but those that came before suffered the same discrimination and condescending looks that thousands of Puerto Ricans had to endured. Thus, singling Cubans and Puerto Ricans out as unaffected by the consequences of immigration is right out laughable, at best.”
The word “lawyer” was invoked this weekend by the Tequila Party leader in a e-message to Varela. In it, she asked Latino Rebels to speak to her lawyer if they have any further issues. Varela viewed that exchange as a threat for legal action.
When questioned regarding the tension between she and Varela, García Blasé stated: “Julio has nothing better to do than to attack female Mexican Americans. He has the power to go after the Tea Party movement, but goes after the Latin counter movement of the Tea Party instead. His priorities are mixed up and have been from the get-go.”
García Blasé also stated that Tequila Party has not threaten with a lawsuit. “We told him if he had a problem with us to go to our legal head and our advisor,” she said.
What about the name game?
For now at least both sides are sticking to their point of view.
Poll results from Latino Rebels question, “Would you change the name of the Tequila Party?” are showing a 20.41% for leave as it is, and 79.59% for changing.
The top names selected are “United Latino Party” and “New American Party.”
In my opinion, a few names on the survey, such as the Bolivar Party, the Justicia Party and the Americano Party would cause as much branding problems to the Latino Rebels as Tequila Party has caused García Blasé.
Marketing 101 says that anything that will cause you a headache with your potential audience needs to be retooled. The Tequila Party declined several requests to address a change of name.
“We are in serious plans to develop a United Latino Party (ULP) since it is obvious that the Tequila Party name mocks Latinos and a vast majority of Latinos in US reject it for its silly name. FYI, we have always been on record to say that we think that the intention of the Tequila Party was good, but the name was silly and that is the feedback we gave the Tequila Party leaders. Instead, we get called out for attacking for sharing our opinion and now its leaders are threatening us with legal action for expressing our right to free speech,” says Varela.
Varela has been working for the last couple of months on petitioning through Change.org that the Tequila Party change its name to one that will be a true umbrella for all Latinos.
In June, I interviewed Garcia Blasé and wrote a column. The title: Tequila Party launches… will it be taken seriously? prompted a series of comments by people who work in the Diversity and Inclusion, Marketing and Public Relations arenas with the Latino markets. Some of those comments are reproduced below.
“Dee Dee, Great to see you doing something worthy of your talents. A big congrats. I am so impressed by the whole idea and website. Please get in contact with me, I would like to help. Abrazo fuerte.”
“Although I agree with what the party stands for I totally disagree with the name, by association it only implies one section of the population, when we all very well know that this issue of immigration affects people from all over the world now in the USA. A better and more productive name would be “The World Party” or “The Latin-American Party”.
“I can’t see “The Tequila Party” becoming a serious force in politics with such a name; it sounds more like a late night joke, than a front for millions of suffering people.”
“It is admirable that you are standing up for your beliefs and looking to rally those out there that share the same posture as you do in this case/cause. Having said that however, I don’t think that the name you have selected will be taken seriously. I say this based on two possible associations that sponsoring a name such as this might create for some who would otherwise align themselves with the “Tequila Party”. First one is the obvious; the reference to an alcoholic beverage, not everyone will be moved the same way with that title. Cute, but could be misinterpreted and go against some people’s value system (the PC thing). Second, if you’re truly trying to appeal to the “Latinos” the use of tequila may also drive separation as not all Latinos associate to tequila the way Mexican or Mexican-Americans do. As Latinos, the idea behind a rally to defeat poor legislation should be geared to unite and embrace all the diversity in the Latino community through the use of more “all-encompassing words”. I can only speak for myself in saying that I am a Latino and the “tequila party’ is not one that I would align myself with… Please don’t misinterpret my message…I agree that we have work to do to eradicate legislation that does not condone amnesty. Best Wishes…. ”
“I think it is worst name ever. Surely we can come up with something more creative. From a diversity standpoint, the name has no value. For that matter, we could have called ourselves the Sombrero Party. If a high profile person, Republican or Democrat, had called us that as a joke, we would have found it offensive.”
“I am from Miami, however I work half time in Texas. I see the spectrum of Latino cultures and live in a Hispanic community. When I read the headline, I thought the name was a joke, like creating a Mojito Party in Miami, which everyone might think is a place to go and get drunk and have fun. I think it creates a bad image for the Mexican immigrants. In my opinion, a lot of energy may be spent criticizing the name before even addressing the issues.”
The future of these Latino movements
The National Tequila Party Movement is a national tour of concerts, events, dinners and rallies that will encourage a massive Latino Get Out The Vote. This movement is non-partisan and although is not about tequila, its first sponsor was Tequila Don Abraham. “We like that the name is controversial, it’s helped us out there,” said García Blasé, who also explained that her team has people from different national origins, including recent immigrants. To appeal to Latinos other than the Mexican community, the events will be headlined as Tequila Party/Café con Leche in cities like Miami and New York.
Latinos Rebels claims what Tequila Party is having a hard time claiming. Varela says his group is about true inclusion and believes that the new Latino movement needs to unite all Latino groups –one of their slogans is “Dile no al Tequila y sí a la Unidad” (Say No to Tequila and Yes to Unity).
“Our plan is to continue to educate people about the real intentions of the Tequila Party and reveal their contributors and their associations. This is all public information. We just want to inform voters about the intentions of this group. It is not inclusive, it is not open to differing opinions, it is an AstroTurf movement of the Republican Party to pander to Latinos. We will be promoting and working with more legitimate and credible organizations such as VotoLatino.org to register Latino voters for 2012, regardless of party affiliation. If the Tequila Party is serious about working together and not blocking us or legally threatening us, we would still be happy to work with them, but the name has to go. We will continue to act and impact change, which we have been doing for years online, unlike Somos Republicans and the Tequila Party,” Varela said.
I wonder if Tequila Party should go ahead and change its name to United Latino Party, work with Latino Rebels and others and stop causing itself harm from the get go… Then again, as long as Latinos are stuck on the first floor of a movement, bickering amongst ourselves, not finding solutions or leaders, no one will be taken seriously.
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