CHICAGO – Virtually every leader and spokesperson of the Mexican, Mexican American and Puerto Rican communities here have spoken out against the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. Congressman Luis Gutierrez voted against the war resolution in October 2002.

When the Chicago City Council voted recently 46 to 1 for an anti-war resolution, every Latino member voted “yea,” cutting across Chicago’s traditional “machine” versus “independent” lines. One of the leading sponsors of the resolution was Alderman Billy Ocasio, who as chair of the Human Relations Commission played a key role in getting the resolution considered and then passed.

Ocasio told the World the broad support for the resolution was based on economic concerns. “Poor communities, [like] my community depend on the … dollars that come down from the federal government, from the states. But in a crisis era, what gets cut first? … human services, all the dollars for affordable housing, all the dollars for jobs, health, education. What we are saying is that we have issues here at home that we have to take care of first,” he said.

Ocasio’s concern is intensified by the horrible condition of the budget of the State of Illinois, which has a $5 billion deficit. Illinois is one of the states with a balanced budget requirement. Ocasio said, “If we go to war, that $5 billion deficit is going to become a $15 billion deficit … There are no resources that are going to be coming in … everything that [Governor] Blagojevich ran on are [things] I think the presidency will cut, when it comes to delivering Medicare and Medicaid to our seniors … building better schools and resources for education. All that is going to be cut if we go to war.”

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