- U.S. Congressman (D- New York)
- Member of the radical Progressive Caucus
- Admires Communist dictator Fidel Castro
- Praised President Clinton’s clemency offer to FALN Puerto Rican terrorists
See also: Congressional Progressive Caucus
Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus
Born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and raised in the South Bronx, Jose Serrano attended a New York vocational high school and then Lehman College before joining the Army Medical Corps, where he served for three years during the Vietnam War. After leaving the Army in 1966, Serrano became active in Democratic Party politics in the Bronx. He worked for the New York City board of education for five years, and then in 1974 he won election to a seat in the New York state assembly. In 1985 he ran unsuccessfully for the office of Bronx borough president, but retained his assembly seat.
In January 1990 Democrat Robert Garcia, as a result of his involvement in the infamous Wedtech scandal, resigned from his post as the representative for a New York City congressional district centered on the mostly-Hispanic South Bronx. With vocal support from key Democratic leaders – including New York mayor David Dinkins, Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer, and Rev. Jesse Jackson – Serrano won Garcia's vacated seat in a special March 1990 election and has held it ever since.
Describing his own political ideology as “to the left of the left,” Serrano is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Urban Caucus. In 2005 he also demonstrated his opposition to the Iraq War by joining the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus. Click here for an overview of Serrano's voting record on key pieces of legislation during his years in the House of Representatives.
An admitted fan of Fidel Castro, Serrano has praised Cuba's former dictator as “a great leader for his people” and has long advocated the normalization of American diplomatic relations with Havana. Serrano also favors increasing U.S. federal aid to his native Puerto Rico, which he describes as an American “colony.” And he has repeatedly proposed legislation that would call for a referendum allowing Puerto Rico to declare either its independence from the U.S. or its wish to become America's 51st state.
In 1997 Serrano was one of 33 original co-sponsors of the Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act which was introduced into Congress by California Rep. Matthew Martinez. This emergency federal jobs legislation, supported by the New York State Communist Party, was designed to create jobs at union wages in financially foundering cities by putting the unemployed to work on infrastructure projects such as rebuilding schools, housing, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, and parks. Rep. Martinez had already introduced an earlier version of this bill in the previous Congress at the request of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, whose leaders were known supporters or members of the Communist Party USA.
Also in 1997, Serrano introduced a bill in Congress calling for the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which places term limits on the U.S. presidency. He has reintroduced this proposal every two years since then.
In 1999 Serrano applauded President Bill Clinton's clemency offer to 16 members of the FALN, a Marxist-Leninist terror group that had been active in the U.S. from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, and whose overriding mission was to secure Puerto Rico's political independence from the United States. Depicting the inmates in question as “political prisoners,” Serrano—along with such notables as Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Rigoberta Menchu, Desmond Tutu, and Nydia Velazquez—actively supported the the Pro-Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico's campaign calling for the prisoners' release.
In 2005 Serrano brokered a deal in which the state-run oil company of Hugo Chavez's Venezuela agreed to provide, through its U.S. subsidiary Citgo, some eight million gallons of home heating oil at a discounted rate to low-income residents of the Bronx.
In 2007 Serrano was a vocal supporter of then-New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to permit illegal aliens to acquire driver’s licenses; the congressman blamed the measure's defeat on “the hate in this country toward immigrants right now.”
On numerous occasions, Serrano has sponsored legislation designed to protect the illegal-alien parents of citizen children from deportation. Moreover, he has staunchly opposed proposals to make English the national language of the United States.
When Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez died in March 2013, Serrano eulogized him as a man who "understood the needs of the poor"; "was committed to empowering the powerless"; "used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots"; "believed that the government of the country should be used to empower the masses, not the few"; "understood democracy and basic human desires for a dignified life"; and sought to ensure "a better life for the poor and downtrodden."
For additional information on Jose Serrano, click here.