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Chuy García helps form new Latino PAC  

(AP): Chicago-area Latino leaders have formed a new research and political advocacy group aimed at developing policies to better represent that rapidly growing segment of the city's population.

But Latino Action Research Network (LARN) leaders quickly added June 16 that they will not compete with the already established, and politically connected, Hispanic Democratic Organization. 

The new group’s president, Jesus “Chuy” García, said one of its goals is to give political voice to the area’s Latino population, which grew by 68 percent to 1.4 million people in the 1990s, according to a 2004 report by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. 

García, a former state senator, said that unlike the HDO, the Research Network will not be a partisan organization. In 1998, Garcia was defeated by an HDO-backed candidate, state Sen. Antonio “Tony” Muñoz (D-Chicago).

Jesus "Chuy" García

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García was the keynote speaker at Adelante’s César E. Chávez Humanitarian Awards Banquet in Toledo last March.

HDO, which campaigns for Mayor Richard M. Daley, has been tainted by recent corruption investigations involving city workers affiliated with the group. A recent survey conducted jointly by the Chicago Tribune and sister newspaper Exito! found 500 HDO members holding city jobs.

HDO leader Victor Reyes said he welcomes any group that wants to help the Latino community.

Juanita Irizarry, executive director of the LARN, said the group will be active in community affairs and focus on establishing grassroots campaigns to present a unified message on issues including problems in immigration, affordable housing, and education.

A 2004 study on Latinos in Chicago Public Schools found one bilingual teacher for every 42 Spanish-speaking students trying to learn English. LARN will ensure that legislators and volunteers are aware of such research and use it to promote public policies that affect Latinos, Irizarry said.

“We definitely see it being about empowerment, in terms of creating a more comprehensive, coordinated voice for the community so legislators and other power brokers have to listen to us,” she said.

 

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