Latino radio hosts plan voter drive

Two Latino radio hosts credited for mobilizing hundreds of thousands this year in pro-immigrant protests said on Friday they would join the drive to increase the Hispanic and immigrant vote in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

Los Angeles disc jockeys Piolin (Tweetybird) and El Cucuy (the Bogeyman) said they will work with the National Council of La Raza and other organizations to push Latino immigrants living in the United States to become U.S. citizens and register to vote in time to cast ballots in 2008.

Immigration promises to be one of the big issues in the 2006 mid-term congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election as the future of some 12 million undocumented immigrants divides Congress and President George W. Bush’s Republican Party.

An estimated 8 million Latinos are legal residents in the United States who qualify for naturalization as U.S. citizens, including 3 million in California alone, activists said.

National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguia said Spanish-language radio DJs could help add at least another 3 million Latino voters to the 7.5 million who cast ballots in 2004, helping to elect more pro-immigration politicians.

“With the huge march on March 25, the Los Angeles DJs showed the power to mobilize the community,” said El Cucuy, whose real name is Renan Almendarez Coello, referring to the 500,000 marchers who rallied in Los Angeles on March 25 in what is believed to be the nation’s largest pro-immigrant protest.

“The big difference now is that we are united and fighting for the same objective,” said Piolin, also known as Eddie Sotelo.

Both Mexican native Piolin and Honduran-born El Cucuy said they had once been illegal immigrants in the United States.