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Pioneering Politician Herman Badillo, the First Puerto Rican Elected to Congress, Dies at 85

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Herman Badillo, a trailblazing politician who became the first Puerto Rican-born member of Congress, has died at the age of 85. Badillo served as a powerful voice in New York City politics for decades. He started out as a civil rights attorney and went on to hold a range of city posts and serve four terms in Congress. Throughout his career he championed the rights of Latinos and the poor. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González highlights the legacy of Badillo in his New York Daily News column this week, “Few played as big a role in community as Herman Badillo.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In the midst of all that’s happening, Juan, you did your column on Herman Badillo.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, on Wednesday, because Badillo died, actually, on Wednesday morning, and in all of the press attention obviously to the Eric Garner case, that whole story sort of like had to take a second place to all the big news occurring. But Herman Badillo was, for 50 years, the most influential figure in the Latino community in New York City, had an amazing career all that time. And while he started out really as a very important liberal civil rights advocate, in his later years he turned more—somewhat more conservative in his views, but nonetheless was always considered the key figure in Latino politics in New York City. And I had known him for 40 years, 40 of his 50 years in public life, and often sought counsel and debated him on a number of issues and always respected the enormous energy and passion he brought to fighting for equality for all people in New York City.

AMY GOODMAN: And you’ll be speaking at his funeral on Sunday?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, on Sunday. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, who he was close to, will also be there, and many of the political leaders of New York City of the past half-century will be attending.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll link to your column in the New York Daily News.

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