Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders paid a visit to the Abraham Chavez Theatre in El Paso this past weekend. The doors to the venue opened at 12:30 p.m., but Bernie supporters began lining up hours before.
As the hour for doors to open grew closer, the line to enter grew longer. A few supporters began setting up Sanders merchandise by the sidewalk on Santa Fe Street. Rallygoers Stephanie Delgado, 20, and Erika Martinez, 20, were both excited to hear what Sanders had to say regarding the local community. “I just think it’s really important ’cause I guess the Latino community here in El Paso is very different from other states if you think about it,” Delgado said.
One big reason Delgado and Martinez said they will be voting for Sanders is the high demand for better education. “I know a lot of people struggle with paying for school and it influences people deciding if they do go to college … I think it’s important that everyone has the opportunity if they want to be able to go to college,” Martinez said.
Around 11:30 a.m. a small group of Trump supporters began to gather outside the venue as a form of protest against the politician who describes himself as a democratic socialist. Arturo Ramirez, 61, along with another Trump supporter, said they and a few other local Republicans were planning on meeting outside the theater.
The group wanted to counter the arguments and beliefs that Sanders and his supporters have about free health care and education and that “nothing in life is free.” Although the Trump group made themselves obvious to the Sanders crowd, there was no heat between the two groups.
UTEP students, as well as other people from the El Paso community, joined Sanders on stage. Jonathan Picado, 22, said he thinks it’s important for the city of El Paso to be recognized by such a high-profile politician like Sanders. “I think this is a historic moment. We have an amazing candidate who cares about a lot of El Paso issues and issues we share with the rest of the nation,” Picado said.
Daisy Marquez, 22, expressed that Sen. Sanders is the most qualified candidate to beat President Trump in the 2020 elections because his message has been consistent. “A lot of politicians will start showing their politics and their ideals and the fact that Bernie has been doing this [since the very beginning], it makes me feel a little bit more confident with this candidate.”
Frida Murha, 21, stated that what’s most important to her is that people need to get out and support their candidates. “They need to be engaged that they need to take a part in the conversation that’s going on about the things that affect them directly,” Murha said.
Marlon Picado, 21, said that because Sanders has been in politics for so many years, he has developed qualities and beliefs that make him different from other candidates. “Bernie is the candidate I think we all need,” Picado said. “Bernie’s always been true to himself and his platform and that’s never changed through him being a politician.”
Sanders arrived on stage and the audience erupted with applause. Throughout his time on the podium he continued to share what he has since the beginning of his campaign. He said President Trump and his administration are no good for the the country. The audience “booed” every time he mentioned Trump’s name.
“We have a president today who is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot,” Sanders said. “He thinks that he is [going to] win the election by dividing this country up based on the color of our skin or where we were born. But we have news for Trump — love and compassion and bringing people together is a lot more powerful than divisiveness.”
The atmosphere surrounding the event gave off nothing but positive energy for Sanders. Supporters who weren’t able to make it into the theater were still able to hear the senator’s speech from outside. Sanders appeared to leave the people of El Paso with high spirits and optimism that he will no doubt win the state of Texas come November. Early voting in Tuesday’s primary election is now open until March 3.