Last November, Hispanic Republicans officially brought life to the Collier chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA). Edgardo Tenreiro, current administrator of the Naples Community Hospital (NCH), is the head of the new organization. Other participants in the group are Raymond Cabral, Elio Hernández, Nelson Zuleta, Rosy Jonson, Renato Fernández, Susana Borge, Salomón Cárdenas and Ty Vigil.
"We want to spread the Republican message," Tenreiro said, "a message of family values, and also a vision of what the function of the government should be."
According to Tenreiro, Hispanic Republicans share the idea of "less government and low taxation. A government that promotes private initiative and division of powers."
Individualism needs to be defined by moral values, and it's also necessary to keep a sense of community, according to Tenreiro. He hopes that the recently created group will also help to multiply the participation of Hispanics in politics.
Tenreiro who was born in South Bend, Ind., to Venezuelan parents, graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA in finance.
He advocates for a small government, because "a government that intervenes in all the aspects of the individual or the community is a dictatorship, as the ones that have motivated many Hispanics to flee to the United States."
When asked why they didn't just join Collier County Republican Committee, Tenreiro said: "I thought about that and did my research. I realized that there is a nationwide Hispanic assembly, the RNHA, created in 1971. Having an existing structure where the Hispanics could participate, why merge into the local group if we could act locally and be heard nationally?" He mentioned that Congressmen like Mario Diaz Balart and Mel Martinez started as members of the RNHA, which is the only Hispanic organization recognized as an official ally of the Republican National Committee.
"We have received support from Carla Dean, chairman of the Collier County Republican Executive Committee," he said.
Tenreiro's group is looking forward to building a strong countywide political organization that will work on to elect Hispanic candidates. They aim to find leaders among the almost 12,000 Hispanic voters in Collier and also hope to help the government understand the reality of Hispanics.
About immigration, one of the most controversial topics of the moment, Tenreiro said, "From my personal point of view, immigration is necessary. The American population is aging and who is going to work? Immigrants. We need to find how to achieve a streamlined immigration, instead of illegal immigration. There must be solutions without the country becoming the shelter for everybody."
He mentioned that when the health industry needed nurses, the country hired Philippinos. "The computer industry and agriculture need workers. Why force these people to come illegally? It is not true that the Hispanics are a burden to the country. They pay taxes, Social Security. People need to stop having fear."
The group holds their meetings in English. Interested parties can join and learn more about the ideas and values of the national assembly. You can also visit www.rnha.org or e-mail to: Rnha@earthlink.net.