Soca de Vote Co-Founder Tanya Ragbeer Galvanizing Caribbean-American Voters

Soca de Vote Co-Founder Tanya Ragbeer Shares her Passion About the 2020 General Election
Tanya Ragbeer, Soca de Vote co-Founder

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – The first time Tanya Ragbeer voted in a US election, it was for Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992. She has voted Democrat since and plans to continue that trend for Joe Biden on November 3.

Ragbeer, a Jamaican and longtime South Florida resident, has lived in the United States for nearly 40 years. She is co-founder of Soca de Vote, a group of Caribbean-Americans doing their part to ensure Biden defeats President Donald Trump.

“I’ve been in the US for almost 40 years now. This is my home. This election is absolutely the most critical election since I’ve been in this country. Of course, there are two other elections that I was  also very passionate about: my very first vote, and the election of our first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama,” Ragbeer, a communications specialist, told South Florida Caribbean News.

“All the years that I’ve been here, however, I’ve never felt until now that the quality of life for the underserved: women, black Americans, and the immigrant, indigenous, and LGBTQ communities are all at stake.  It is incumbent on everyone to exercise their right to vote,” she added.

Soca de Vote formed prior to the 2016 election to shore up youth support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. After her loss to Trump, the group, according to Ragbeer, petered out.

With Florida proving the difference between victory and defeat in recent elections, she thought it was appropriate to revive Soca de Vote to help rally the state’s Caribbean-American vote which based on electoral data, amounts to 750,000.

Trump got 4,617,886 votes (49.02 per cent) to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes four years ago. Approximately 4,504,975 (47.82 per cent) voted for Clinton.

“Our group started in July and currently has a core of 15. On Facebook, we’re approaching 1,400 and growing daily. Membership is diverse, as diverse as the Caribbean is,” Ragbeer outlined. “We have people from every Caribbean country represented, and we like it that way. Each and every Caribbean country makes up the whole. Membership is predominantly Democratic, adults (ages) 25 to 70.”

Because Soca de Vote “got off the starting blocks late”, its recruitment drive has not been as aggressive or visible as like-minded organizations. They have assisted sister groups by reaching out to prospective voters. Ragbeer and colleagues, including David Muir and Courtney McFarlane  have appeared at the Caribbean-Americans for Biden-Harris event in Lauderhill; the Biden-Harris Campaign Drive-in Rally in Miramar; and with Florida Souls to The Polls in Miami.

“We have to build this group. There have been other groups that have popped up within the last month or so … that’s ok. There’s room for everyone; let’s all just stay focused on the goal!” an enthusiastic Ragbeer exclaimed. “After the elections, we will actively focus on membership.  After all, win or lose, the show must go on! The 2022 elections are just around the corner and of course, there is also the accountability factor, another reason we’re here.”

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