Project Pastelito: Turning voting in Miami into a pachanga

How do you rev up an 11th-hour Democratic get-out-the-vote effort in Miami’s Hispanic community?

Pounds and pounds of lechon. A “bazillion” croquetas. Street bands. La chivaJohn Leguizamo (yes, the guy from Shaft). Hillary Clinton herself (multiple times).

Meet #ProjectPastelito.

The group of Miami Latinos first came together for the 2008 election. They reconvened in 2012. And last Sunday, with the clock ticking and Trump and Clinton basically neck and neck in the state, they reactivated the group again.

There’s a strong Clinton ground game in Miami, for sure. The city has been blanketed by canvassers the last few days. But it takes a little something different, more creative to get out the Hispanic vote here in Miami, says Patrick Hidalgo, the man behind Project Pastelito.

What that comes down to is a lot of storytelling, a lot of pork, and a bunch of good street parties.

“We have eaten and served more lechon than we can ever stomach for the rest of our lives,” he said Sunday night. “We’re all sitting around eating lechon right now and saying we should eat pizza. We bought a bazillion croquetas.”

What’s driving them is a desire to wake people up to the diversity of opinion in the Hispanic community – and to show that off at the ballot box.

“A lot of time Hispanics get cast as just caring about immigration or Cuba policy or whatever country their ethnicity comes from,” he says. “All of us [in Project Pastelito] are bicultural, we’re all American of Hispanic descent… We feel this dual identity. We’ve gotta reach our community.”

For the Cuban-Americans in the group, this work feels particularly necessary.

“We have a particular beef… a pride [in making sure] that the Cuban-American community should be seen as a pluralistic, diverse community. Other Hispanics roll their eyes when they think of Cuban-Americans,” Hidalgo adds. 

“I think only like 18 percent of Cuban-Americans voted for Gore in 2000. In 2012, Obama got close to 50 percent. We don’t want it to go backwards.”

Interested in following or joining them in the final days? Find them on Facebook here.