Darren Soto, other Orlando Hispanic leaders urge vaccinations

They also urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to let local leaders address COVID locally.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and several other Hispanic community leaders in Central Florida Wednesday urged people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In a bilingual forum organized by Alianza for Progress, a progressive Hispanic group, a political mix of influential Hispanic leaders joined Soto, ranging across the political spectrum, from Democratic Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer to William Diaz, president of Casa de Venezuela and a frequent GOP supporter.

“Let’s be very clear out there, if you’re unvaccinated, you’re probably going to get coronavirus, because we’re now in a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Soto said. “The vaccine is everywhere and it is free and it will save the lives of you and your family. I cannot stress that enough. We’ve seen, now, millions of Americans get it. It’s safe. It’s safe. I promise you.

“I hope I never hear more stories of families where you have the father in his deathbed asking for the vaccine, but it’s too late,” Soto added.

The Congressman, who represents Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk counties, and the others, offered two messages for two audiences. They urged Central Florida residents, particularly Hispanic people, to get vaccinated; and they pleaded with Gov. Ron DeSantis to reverse some of his restrictions on local officials, to let local leaders pursue policies to combat COVID-19.

“Our ability to protect Florida is not working right now because we have too many restrictions put in place for local officials to help do their jobs in areas that may be harder hit. We call on Gov. DeSantis to give locals back their control,” Soto said.

While the latter plea may have partisan differences, speaker after speaker stressed their belief that vaccinations should be a nonpartisan issue.

“This is a moral imperative and a national health care crisis,” said Gabriel Salguero, pastor at The Gathering Place, which has been part of a national advertising campaign with 3,000 churches. “We need bipartisan leadership in this. This is not a partisan issue. This is a life issue. And that’s why we as faith leaders are encouraging people to mask up, and to get vaccinated, and to get our elected officials to do everything in their power to influence and encourage our people, particularly those at risk, so that finally we can combat this global pandemic.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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