Raul Lopez, executive director of Latinos For Tennessee, was tapped last month by the Republican National Committee to participate in a Q&A for its website on being Hispanic and Republican.
“The RNC recently reached out to outstanding Hispanic leaders and asked them what being a Republican means to them,” the committee says in an introduction to the Q&A.
Begun several years ago, Latinos For Tennessee is a conservative political action group. In addition to its involvement in politics, the group aims to help Hispanics in their communities by sponsoring events such as health fairs. In recent weeks, the group has helped with relief efforts for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.
However, as a conservative group, Latinos For Tennessee struggles to get funding in an environment in which most support for Hispanic groups goes to those that are progressive. Latinos For Tennessee has taken stances against sanctuary cities and in support of President Trump’s immigration policies. It also promotes family values, including traditional marriage.
The group is based in Nashville but has a presence in other parts of the state.
Here is the full text of Lopez’s interview with the Republican National Committee:
1. What are the 3 most important values that identify you with the Republican Party?
Faith and family, freedom, and fiscal responsibility. I’m proud to lead Latinos for Tennessee, a local non-profit that is committed to taking the conservative message to Latinos living in our state; and I can tell you these values resonate in the Latino community. How awesome is it to live in a country where we can worship freely; a country that was founded on shared beliefs about individual liberty, rather than membership in one race or ethnicity; a country grounded in the free-enterprise system where hard work and innovation can thrive? It’s a huge blessing. I’m committed to promoting and protecting faith and family, freedom, and fiscal responsibility—they make our country great!
2. How does your heritage influence your political perspective?
My family fled communist Cuba in 1967. As a young boy, I saw my father, a lawyer and accountant, lose everything to seek freedom for his family. We left the world we knew and said goodbye to family members we’d never see again to start over from scratch. We may not have thought so at the time, but we were the lucky ones. We found a new life in the United States, and as an adult I’ve found my home in Nashville, Tennessee. As a political refugee from a communist country, this cause is personal. Freedom is everything to me.
3. Would you advise Hispanics to become more knowledgeable about the political process and why?
I’ve always been involved in politics, and it has opened doors to great opportunities and relationships! Especially for immigrants—but also for Hispanics born in this country, and for all citizens—it’s important to learn about our political process, to learn about our founding principles, to learn about the rule of law. And then to think through how you can get involved in protecting those values, how you can get involved to make your community a better place. Whether it’s running for office, educating others in your community, or simply advocating for educational opportunities for your own children–politics is a good thing.
4. Describe Hispanics in one word.
We Hispanics are optimists! People come here to dream and think of the world not as it is, but as it should be. This was a stark difference from the world my family and I fled from in communist Cuba.