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'Green jobs' a draw at Miami Dade College event

By Wilma Hernandez
Miami Herald

Activists from Democracia USA gathered at MDC North Campus as part of a larger campaign to petition the federal government for new 'green jobs.'

Democracia USA, a national nonpartisan Hispanic organization dedicated to engage communities in current issues Miami Dade College North Campus had a ''green'' look last weekend as activists spread the word about economic challenges and opportunities as the public and policymakers focus on environmentalism.

''A cleaner environment will not only spur the economy, but also it will help the underserved people to find jobs and survive,'' said Rudi Navarra, national program coordinator of Democracia USA, whose ''Green Jobs Now'' campaign visited MDC North on Sept. 27.

The campaign aims to fuel a ''green'' economy and advocate for non-polluting energy.

Navarra said Democracia USA is a national nonpartisan Hispanic organization dedicated to engage communities in current issues.

The activists spread their message of how climate change and the energy crisis relate to people's finances and health and to future generations' prospects. Campaigners sought to empower the Latin vote and to encourage more political involvement from minorities, according to Navarra.

''I think Latinos don't get enough opportunities because of lack of access to information and also the language barrier,'' Navarra said. ``At Democracia USA we get tons of calls from people desperate for jobs.''

The campaign collected 988 signatures to petition the federal government for new jobs in a field that affects the economy: the environment.

Navarra said the petition aims to create a national Clean Energy Corps. If formed, the corps would generate green jobs for neglected communities. These jobs would come from government investment in environmental technology such as solar power to allow savings in oil prices, Navarra said.

The proposal envisions the corps working as an independent, federally chartered organization, working with the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Human Health Services.

In addition to Democracia USA, environmental groups including Apollo Alliance and Energy Action Coalition support the proposal. Together they push for a $200 billion federal investment in environmental solutions.

The investment will pay for itself with energy savings; the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, health cost and social services; and workers' productivity, according to the proposal documents.

Luis Battiato, a canvasser for Democracia USA, was concerned with the effects of carbon monoxide. Battiato said in his native Argentina there is no pollution because all vehicles run on ethanol, including military planes.

''We shouldn't use oil as fuel anymore, because there are other kinds of energies like solar and magnetic. The oil used in our engines comes from diesel waste and is a poison,'' Battiato said.

Community activists and MDC students gathered by the stadium and voiced opinions before a football game.

Malice Dasilva, who was registering voters, said she signed the petition because it's important for the public to be involved in politics.

''In America we have a dependence on oil that affects supply and demand. If we develop new energy sources, this would allow us to compete in the global market and definitely lower gas prices,'' Dasilva said.

Sabrina Pinda, an MDC student, said the petition would help the community and the environment.

''More jobs means more money, and with money people and the environment can survive,'' Pinda said.

For information on Democracia USA and its programs, visit

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