Cycle of Political Disengagement on One Bronx Corner

August 14, 2013 at 10:46 am

In order to gain a microcosmic perspective on the actual opinions of New Yorkers about the upcoming election, City & State and City Limits, in partnership with MetroFocus, present a new series: “The Five Borough Ballot.”

The Five Borough Ballot

At the Camaguey restaurant on 138th Street in Mott Haven, campaign season hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe it never will.

Men at the counter hunched over plates of steaming rice and meat crane their necks toward the TV screen, but it’s to watch a soccer game, not the latest campaign gaffe or fluctuating poll numbers.

Just weeks before the Sept. 10 primary, it was hard to find anyone to talk about the election and many seemed unaware there was one going on.

“This September? That’s for the president, right?” asked Ramon Antunez, 65, a regular, eating lunch at the counter one recent afternoon.

“When I come to this country I only vote one time, for George Bush,” he said. “Not even in my country I used to vote.”
Antunez is a Honduran immigrant and said he was granted political asylum in the United States after being persecuted for anti-communist activities. But he wants nothing to do with politics in the country he has called home for the last 43 years.

While concerned that there are people working below the minimum wage — “We have people right here in New York, they’re working for $3.50,” he said — he was resigned to the fact that voting would make no difference. “Politicians lie,” he said. “When they go inside the government, they clean the brain.”

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MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, the Anderson Family Fund, Judy and Josh Weston, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Rosalind P. Walter, The Dorothy Schiff Endowment for News and Public Affairs Programming, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Jody and John Arnhold, the Tiger Baron Foundation, the Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, the Metropolitan Media Fund, Laura and Jim Ross, the Dorothy Pacella Fund, in memory of Vincent Pacella and Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte.

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