Following his official campaign announcement on the Jimmy Dore Show on Feb. 3, independent candidate for U.S. Congress in New York’s 15th District Jose Vega addressed a small gathering at a popular café in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx. The café, known as “The Boogie Down Grind” is owned by long-time Bronx activist and urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter and her husband James Chase. They both know Vega and gave him the opportunity to speak. The café is a popular spot for many younger residents both in and outside the neighborhood.
Announcing his campaign to the café’s patrons, Vega said that his opponent, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), receives enormous contributions from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and is now publicly endorsing Israel’s genocidal campaign against Gaza. That policy of genocidal intent and action by the unhinged governing coalition in Israel, Vega added “is the same policy that has existed in the Bronx and the United States for the past 50 years.”
Vega referenced the policies of planned shrinkage and benign neglect in New York City, from such people as Lazard banker Felix Rohatyn, who imposed a bankers’ dictatorship in the form of the infamous Big MAC model on New York City in 1975, and New York City Housing Administrator Roger Starr, who advocated population reduction and destroyed basic services, such as firehouses, police stations, schools, and subways in order to meet the debt obligations of usurious bankers. These policies, of course, hit Black and Hispanic communities in the South Bronx and other poor neighborhoods the hardest, which have not recovered from the effects of those policies.
“I don’t want people to elect me. I am electing the people of the Bronx to actually stand up and do something,” Vega urged. “The entire world is calling on the United States to wage peace. Will people actually take up that mantle?”
Vega called on his listeners to reflect on the actions that the U.S. has been taking in the world, and realize that it reflects on them, not simply the elected leaders of the country. The Jan. 31 resolution in the Chicago City Council for an Israel-Gaza ceasefire, where over 1,000 area high school students showed up to support the resolution’s passage, is proof that the actions of U.S. citizens, no matter how big or small, can change the policy of the United States.