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This story is about my wonderful wife and her efforts as a Hispanic to elect the first African American president, it will require a bit of background.

The Exodus
My wife has what most Americans might consider an unusual background. She is a Colombian American of Jewish descent. Her ancestors were chased out of Spain over 300 years ago by the Inquisition.

Lucky to escape with their lives, like many other Sephardic Jews, they boarded rickety sailing ships bound for the new world and a life of religious freedom...or so they thought.

Arrival In The New World
They reached the shores of South America and settled in what is now known as the Caldas region of Colombia. Just as it still is today, the land was fertile and rich. Due to it's proximity to the equator, Colombia does not really experience any discernable seasonal changes, and due to it's varied levels of elevation from sea level to high Andean peaks, each plateau has it's own unchanging climate distinct from others in the area.

This allows for a rich and varied agriculture which produces constant harvest conditions throughout the year. Since there are no seasons, there is no concept of growing season versus winter. It's pretty much the same all year. Constant summer, or constant spring depending on which plateau one lives on.

My wife's family established their own hacienda in a small town which became a  primarily Sephardic expatriate community. As history shows, where Spain held influence, the inquisition was rarely far behind, Colombia was no different.

Persecution And Conversion
The Jews in the region had little choice, they would have yet again to uproot and move somewhere else if they could actually find a place to go, or they would have to convert on pain of death.

Pretty much en masse, the Jewish communities of Caldas chose life, but were unwilling to completely abandon their real faith. It became customary to burn a candle in a hidden location (usually a closet) within their homes, to commemorate their own heritage. It also became customary to wear the star of David hidden beneath their clothing.

300 years later, these traditions are still observed in those regions, yet very few who exercise them actually know why they do it. For them, at this point it's just a tradition, a quaint reminder of a forgotten memory from a distant past.

My wife's family is one of very few who though converted long ago, are aware of their true heritage. They became successful farmers and as time went on grew in stature as part of the landed gentry of the region. Her grandfather who had been a somewhat frail and bookish lad with a reputation for brilliance studied law as his siblings picked up the slack and worked the farm so that he could put his considerable gifts to work in pursuit of an education. He later became a judge and a rather important member of his community.

Law And Politics A Family Tradition
This established something of a tradition and for the next several generations most of his progeny became lawyers, politicians, or judges. My wife continued that tradition, graduating from Bogota's prestigious Rosario Univeristy with a law degree in the early 1990's.

My wife's father is of the other predominant ethnic group of the Caldas region, Basques. Like his father in law, he too was the first member of his family to attain a law degree after a childhood of working the coffe fields, manually carrying large bags of coffee beans in his bare feet. Unlike the fictional Juan Valdez, he had no burro to haul the coffee sacks for him. It was a hard scrabble existence based on heavy manual labor.

Recognizing his own talents, upon adulthood he left the family farm for the bright lights of Bogota where he worked as a waiter while attending law school. Upon his graduation, he found employment in the political sector. As time went on he became a ranking political operative in one of the world's toughest political climates.

Latin American politics plays rough, corruption and cronyism are rampant, assassination is commonplace, and a commonly prevailing attitude is that one runs for office only if they can get something out of it.

Into this world of cutthroat politics was born my wife. From the earliest of her days she remembers white tie events and cocktail parties among Colombia's political elite. At one point she had met every member of the Colombian senate, numerous ambassadors, and several of it's presidents and vice presidents both past and current.

She came away with an attitude that is at least in my experience, uniquely cynical about all things political. She absolutely despises politics and believes that all politicians are inherently corrupt. Whenever I have discussed politics or shown enthusiasm for it, her eyes generally glaze over and she gives me that look that says, you have no idea what you are getting into.

A Volunteer Is Born
So it was with great amazement that I saw her decide to volunteer for the Obama campaign last month. I mean you could really have knocked me over with a feather. In fact, I'd go beyond amazement and clear into shock and disbelief. If you knew my wife, you would know, this is a watershed moment.

My wife, who hates politics, has been registering hispanic voters here in Colorado, setting up tables in the hot sun with no shade in front of latin markets all over the East Denver and Aurora areas. One of the campaign volunteers remarked to me that she is almost single handedly responsible for nearly every hispanic registration the campaign has done in Colorado. An exagguration to be sure, but probably quite accurate within the Aurora Campaign office.

So it is within this context that the following observations seem salient, even if technically anecdotal.

Voter Drives
I've been helping my wife as best I can in some of her registration efforts. What I have seen is very encouraging. We have been seeing not just interest, but real enthusiasm within the hispanic community for Barrack Obama. At every market where we have set up, enthusiastic crowds form not just of prospective voters, but many non-citizens who want to be a part of the campaign, even just to touch it somehow. They know this is a seminal if not historic moment. As yet, we have had virtually no sign at all of any disagreement from McCain supporters within the hispanic community. In fact, we have seen almost no sign of the actual existence of hispanic support for McCain at all.

Cutting Across Class Boundaries In The Hispanic Community
My wife has two very distinct groups of hispanic friends and associates. One of these groups is comprised of generally working class hispanics. These include primarily Colombian, and Mexican Americans. Among this group, there is not a single McCain supporter. During the primaries, among this group of about 13, only one supported Hillary Clinton, all others supported Obama. This puts the lie to the notion that Obama support among hispanics is weak or tenuous. Most of the supporters we know have been supporters from early on.

The other group of friends are all college educated, many with advance degrees. These are mostly South Americans; Colombians, Chileans, and Argentinians. Among this group Obama support is not only unanimous, but enthusiastic. Yesterday we attended a coffee clatch with this group of friends. Upon the slightest mention of politics, the group actually broke out in spontaneous chants of "Obama, Obama" and "Yes We Can". This happened not once but twice.

We were not there to discuss politics and none of these people are political activists.

From what I am seeing, this whole notion that has been pushed by the MSM of hispanics not being willing to vote for an African American is just pure and utter bs. Everywhere I turn, I see not just support, but very enthusiastic support within the hispanic community. And here in Colorado, that is a BIG community, somewhere between 24% and 30% of the total population of this state.

Originally posted to Phil In Denver on Sun Oct 05, 2008 at 10:00 AM PDT.

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