Spanish Speech Is a Senate First

Wes Allison, St. Petersburg Times, Feb. 3

WASHINGTON—Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, the first Cuban-American elected to the U.S. Senate, on Wednesday apparently marked another first: delivering the first Spanish speech on the Senate floor.

Martinez, a Republican from Orlando, was speaking in favor of President Bush’s nomination of White House counsel Alberto Gonzales as the new U.S. attorney general. Gonzales, a Mexican-American, would be the first Hispanic to hold that post.

After praising Gonzales in English as a qualified public servant and a role model for Hispanic-Americans, Martinez switched to Spanish and addressed all “those who came to America to create a better life.”

“Judge Gonzales is one of us,” he said in Spanish. “He represents all of our hopes and dreams for our children. Let us acknowledge the importance of this moment, for especially our youth.

“We cannot allow petty politicking to deny us this moment that fills us all with such pride.”

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