A lifelong political activist, Beatriz Hernandez has no doubt: politics matter. She is one of hundreds of 32BJ’s weekend warriors who will be out knocking on doors, distributes leaflets and phone banking in support of Governor Malloy’s re-election. “Governor Malloy has demonstrated that he cares for the working immigrants,” she said. Beatriz and her husband are hitting the ground this fall because “we want a better life for our communities.”
Beatriz was born in Guacari, a small town in the outskirts of Santiago de Cali, Colombia, a city known as the capital of rumba and for its jovial people. It was there where she met her husband Hoover, an elementary schoolteacher and they bonded over local politics.
“Teachers have always been unionized, but most of the workforce is not,” she said. At the time, Beatriz worked in sales in a holistic pharmacy. During her spare time she helped local candidates in her town get elected.
In 2000, Beatriz moved to the United States with her husband and her then 16 year old daughter. “Our daughter was our main motivator to come to the states because we wanted a better life for her,” said Beatriz.
With enthusiasm and high hopes the family settled in Hartford, Connecticut near Beatriz’s mother and brothers. Although Hoover, her husband was a seasoned teacher with a Masters’ degree, his lack of proficiency in the English language was a major obstacle to continuing his career as an educator. Therefore, soon after arriving to the states, Beatriz and Hoover became office cleaners to make ends meet and save some money.
“Adapting to a different culture, language and job was difficult at first,” she said. “Here you are nobody. In Colombia you are a person, you are known for your profession. Here you have to work harder whether you like it or not.”
They quickly became involved with the union’s efforts to elect progressive candidates who would advocate on the behalf of the immigrant population. “Even though I have yet to become a citizen in this country getting involved politically was a natural instinct for me. I’m motivated to become an American citizen because I want to vote and feel fully part of this country.”