A ‘multicultural’ campaign targeting all ethnic minorities and migrant communities, including Latin America, has been taking place for a few weeks already. Its objective: to support these communities to participate in the general elections of December 12 in the United Kingdom.
Boris Johnson hopes that with this early elections he will increase the number of Conservative MPs in the House of Common, making it easier for him to achieve his Brexit plans. But, will the needs and interests of minority groups be properly represented?
To make sure that this is the case, a group of organizations based in the United Kingdom, carry out the “Promote the migrant vote” campaign, so that immigrants settled in in this country, know how to vote and the importance of doing so. One of those organizations is CLAUK, whose its main concern is the Latin American community, based mainly in London.
CLAUK is the Latin American Coalition in the UK and its members came together for the first time in 2011. Since then, they have been working to raise awareness about the various problems faced by the Latin American community in the United Kingdom and to represent their collective interests.
Who is organising this campaign?
It is a collaborative project organised by Migrants Organise with a number of charities and organisations in the migration and race equality sector. Among them, I can mention CLAUK, Detention Action, English for Action, Global Justice Now, Global Sistaz United, iMix, IRMO, JCWI, Migrants Rights Network, Migrant Voice, Migrants in Culture, the Muslim Council of Britain, Naccom, Praxis, Project 17, Right to Remain, We Belong, West London Welcome and The 3 Million.
Why was it organised?
The purpose of the campaign is to support migrants, Black and Minority Ethnicity(BAME) groups to engage with the upcoming General Election on 12 December 2019, by providing resources, information and a national framework for mobilisation. We want to ensure that the experiences of our members facing uncertainty, fear and isolation are on the national agenda at this election and that their interests are appropriately represented.
Why is it important to address this community?
The only way government decisions are representative of the total society in which we live is if all the communities participate, and that includes the Latin American community. It is essential that all communities participate and that all people with the right to vote can exercise it. CLAUK works with the Latin American community, through the work of its organisations, and it is through them that we are able to reach the most vulnerable people.
How are you informing people?
Due to the limited time we have had, since the deadline to register to vote is November 26, CLAUK (Coalition of Latin American organisations in the UK) has been using social media to spread the campaign among our community, providing information and support.
Do you think Latin Americans are aware of the importance of this election?
There is a lot of misinformation and confusion around these elections, which leads to the most vulnerable communities such as the Latin American, not participating in them. The importance of these elections for the future of all of us who live in the United Kingdom, is the fundamental reason why CLAUK are supporting this campaign. We want the Latin American community to be informed to understand the importance of their participation.
Why is the campaign addressed to Latin Americans when we know that only a few people have the right to vote in general elections?
This campaign is aimed at all BAME & migrant community groups not only the Latin Americans. More than 9 million people who are eligible to vote in the UK are at risk of not being able to have their say in a potential snap election because they are not registered to vote, or because they need information and support to know how to exercise their democratic rights. Many of our communities also struggle to participate due to language barriers and a lack of familiarity with the democratic process in the UK.
Have people with European passports the right to vote?
Unfortunately, not. No matter how long they have lived in the United Kingdom, people who have European passports do not have the right to vote in these elections.
What is going to be the impact of the elections on the Latin American community?
Depending on the election results, these could have a substantial negative impact. Especially considering the large percentage of European Union citizens in the Latin American community.
If the results of the elections lead us to a hard Brexit, it would have a negative impact on those who due to their vulnerable situation, have not yet apply for the EU settlement scheme, and they may eventually be left undocumented.
Also, the increase in the cost of living that is expected after Brexit, will especially affect the most needy communities, by increasing poverty levels, health problems and social inequality.