On Saturday afternoon in McNamara Park, Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Gloria La Riva walked through Merced asking residents what they think the community needs to prosper, what farmworkers need for a better life and to show the city there is another voting option.
“She’s the only Latina, worker and socialist running for president,” said Estevan Hernandez, La Riva’s campaign coordinator.
Hernandez said they want to build a campaign with the workers and talk to communities about their issues.
“The Central Valley is an important area,” Hernandez said. “This is where all the food is being grown and shipped all over the country. It’s an area where a lot of issues need to be changed.”
La Riva said the Central Valley is the heart of the agriculture business and she is proud to have had a history in the Valley before her political career. She said she started the Farmworker Emergency Relief Committee and has done work in the Valley to improve drought conditions.
“Republican and Democrat parties have done nothing for farmworkers,” La Riva told the Merced Sun-Star. “They’re part of the working class and the community and they have no control over the agriculture business. Without the farmworkers, you’d starve.”
La Riva said farmworkers should have shorter work days with health benefits, because they’re the ones bent down, under the sun in extreme heat.
“Many farmworkers don’t qualify for medical insurance,” Merced resident Jennifer Morales said. “She gives us hope that there is someone out here standing up for that.”
The top priority La Riva said she has is to tackle the problem of poverty in the country and to bring all troops home from the wars overseas.
“In all my years as an activist, I’ve seen communities and families with no money at all, who live in shacks and have nothing,” La Riva said. “Human beings must be taken care of in the richest country in the world.”
La Riva said the U.S. has become a prison nation with the highest number of prisoners per capita in the world.
La Riva wanted to come to Merced to learn about the community from people who experience and wake up here every day, she said.
She blasted the national media coverage of the two frontrunners, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“We are victims of a media blanket that allows Donald Trump for over a year now to blame Mexicans,” La Riva said. “As if they’re the only immigrants. He’s doing it to divide and conquer the middle class.”
La Riva said she has seen the aftermath and devastation of the bombings and wars Clinton has supported.
“That’s why we are running in this presidential race,” La Riva said. “To give people a third party.”