Charlotte, North Carolina – The Democratic Party's national convention to be held some 50 days from now in this city's Time Warner Cable Arena will be the most accessible in the country's history, organizers say.
At a press conference on Monday at the venue where thousands of Democratic delegates will gather on Sept. 4-6, the man who will chair the convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said that they are "working hard" to transform the way in which the Democratic convention has been held in the past.
The aim of the organizers is to convert this convention into "the most open in the political history of the United States."
"In November, the most important election in our nation will be held," said Villaraigosa in Spanish, something that motivated Latinos in the state to begin to send messages via the social networks to stimulate the participation of the Hispanic electorate.
"It will be the chance to demonstrate that we are the party of inclusion, which fights for the middle class, supports diversity and values Hispanics," said the mayor.
Convention organizers on Monday launched a new group that will work with leaders of the state's 100 counties and will seek a Latino coordinator to get the message out to the grassroots.
Hispanics in North Carolina have become a possible decisive voice in a state that President Barack Obama must retain to be able to remain in the White House for four more years.
At least 26,000 Latinos voted in November 2008 when Obama won North Carolina's 15 electoral votes by a margin of only 14,000, becoming the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
To date, 91,482 Latinos have registered to vote and represent 1.5 percent of the state's total electorate, compared with 44,719 in 2004.
Nearly 44 percent of the state's Latino voters are registered Democrats, while 18.5 percent are Republicans and the remaining 37 percent are independents.
Another sign of the growing importance of Hispanics in the state is that nine of the 158 state delegates who will participate in the convention are Latinos, compared with three in 2004.
According to Olma Echeverri, the president of Hispanic American Democrats of NC, the strategy has been to create local chapters of the organization to increase the number of registered Hispanic voters, get them to vote and better the 2008 results.
However, in a meeting with Hispanic leaders, they asked Villaraigosa to make the participation of Hispanics at the Charlotte convention "more visible."
Astrid Chirinos, the executive director of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte, told Efe that it is important to take advantage of the fact that the world will be watching the activities in Charlotte to "emphasize the economic contribution and the work that Latinos have done for decades in the city. We practically built it."