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On President’s Day, Daniel Parra met a group of friends at Eldorado High School, in East Las Vegas. The Bernie Sanders campaign was holding a soccer tournament there that a friend of Parra’s had posted about on Snapchat. Under a bright morning sun, with Frenchman Mountain soaring in the background, some forty mostly Latino soccer aficionados gathered on one of the school’s fields. Many of the players had brought their parents, brothers, and sisters along, and spectators sat on the scorched grass beneath the branches of an ash tree. A Mexican woman in her sixties with an ice-cream cart and two taco vendors with a spread of carnitas, asado, and pastor would soon be selling food, as arranged by the campaign. Dozens of cobalt-blue Bernie signs, including one, which read, “Unidos con Bernie” fluttered on the field’s wire fence. Parra, who is nineteen, tall, and slender, spoke with conviction about his support for Sanders. He hoped to transfer to Colorado State University from the community college he was attending nearby, and said that the senator’s promise of making university tuition free resonated strongly with him. But something else had drawn him to the field that morning. “I see that he’s actually trying to look after the smaller communities, not just going after the big audience,” Parra said. “Doing something like this means a lot to people like us, because we don’t really get looked upon.”

Before the game, Jose La Luz, a Puerto Rican labor activist and Sanders surrogate, called on the players to crowd around him. La Luz has been urging Latinos across the country to support Sanders, and had flown in from Texas that morning. “Buenos días!” he said to the players. Half awake, many of them failed to reply. “I can’t hear you! Buenos días!” he insisted, prompting a louder response. La Luz is sixty-nine, with slicked-back hair and a salt-and-pepper mustache. He wore dark glasses, a blue linen jacket, and had a turquoise ring on each hand. His fervor, and the Mexican slang he wove into his Spanish remarks, prompted chuckles among the attendees. “We’ve gathered this morning because we’re going to see who scores the most goals for Tío Bernie,” La Luz said. He called for a show of hands to see how many players were old enough to vote. About a dozen raised their arms. “And who will you vote for?” he asked. “Bernie!” they exclaimed in unison. “For Tío Bernie,” he asserted. “Because he is our candidate.” After La Luz announced that a “very important” person was on his way, the crowd broke into whispers. Could it be Bernie? If not him, who? La Luz said that he wanted to make sure their guest would get a proper welcome. “I want us to receive him with a strong and warm Latin-American applause!” he said, gradually lifting his booming voice. “A strong and warm Mexican applause! A strong and warm Central American applause! Because we’re proud to be Latinos, and the Latino vote will decide this election!”

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

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