NM GOP leader under fire for 'Hispanics above blacks' slur
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Monday September 22, 2008

Print This  Email This

A local Republican Party leader in New Mexico has set off a firestorm by suggesting in an interview that Hispanics are racists who won't vote for a black candidate. Now even the state Republican chairman is calling for his resignation.

Fernando C' de Baca, who heads the GOP in Bernalillo County, was quoted by BBC reporter Jon Kelly on Friday as saying that even though the polls show Barack Obama with a substantial lead over John McCain among Hispanic voters, "The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors. African-Americans came here as slaves. ... Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."

The Hispanic community has reacted to de Baca's remarks with anger. Ralph Arellanes of the Hispanic Roundtable of New Mexico told CNN, "I'm insulted and I'm outraged." The Obama campaign issued a similar statement by the speaker of the New Mexico House, Democrat Ben Lujan, saying, "I am outraged. ... It is an insult to the Hispanic community and to all of the voters of New Mexico.."

Political blogger Peter St. Cyr told KOAT News in Albuquerque that de Baca had phoned him on Saturday evening to apologize for the remarks, insisting they were taken out of context and represented something his grandfather had told him 60 years ago.

De Baca, who served in Vietnam and with the US Army Airborne Intelligence Corps, has a long history of service to the Republican Party. He was appointed a Deputy for Hispanic Affairs by Richard Nixon in 1974 and worked in the Ford White House for over two years. In 1985, he became chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

However, even Republicans are now rushing to disavow de Baca's words. The chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, Allen Weh, told KOAT News in Albuquerque that "the comments were inappropriate, they were offensive to a lot of people" and stated that de Baca needs to step down for the good of the party.

This video is from KOAT, broadcast September 22, 2008.

Download video via RawReplay.com