Hondurans in Florida: With a Voice, but Without a Vote

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TAMPA, Fla. — Lurvin Luzardo has lived in Tampa for more than 20 years, and while she can’t vote in the upcoming elections, she aspires to one day be a voice for the state’s Hispanics.

Luzardo, a native of Honduras, is president of “United Hondurans of Tampa,” created nine years ago. The group meets daily at Café Nebraska, where customers come to enjoy the delicious baliadas -- corn tortillas filled with cheese and other ingredients.

“We need a voice, if they’re going to listen to us,” asserts Luzardo, as the scent of freshly-brewed coffee wafts through the diner. Like most of the state’s Hondurans, Luzardo is not a citizen and cannot vote.

And while she acknowledges that politicians are unlikely to heed the concerns of those unable to cast a ballot, she says that “only by participating actively in the community will you, little by little, achieve a voice that (politicians) will listen to… they will be concerned about our problems."

There are approximately 6,000 Hondurans living in Tampa Bay, largely concentrated in the Seminole Heights area. 

Luzardo became active in the community in 1996, when she was left alone to care for her two daughters in what she calls a “legal immigration limbo,” later resolved when she obtained a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visa.

Of the GOP election primaries, Luzardo says that she still holds out hope that President Obama will manage to turn things around. “Although I am disappointed with the current president, at the bottom of my heart I have the hope that he will fulfill his promises."

It’s a sentiment shared by many in the community. “Better times will come,” says German Lozano, “and not necessarily with Republicans." He ends with a well-know expression. “The old familiar shoe is better than a new tight one.”