In a shakeup for “Squad” leader New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), her chief of staff jumped ship with his sights set on Mexico.
After more than four years working within the U.S. House of Representatives, nearly three of which were spent serving as the congresswoman’s top aide, Gerardo Bonilla Chavez cited burnout as a heavy factor in separating from his duties at the end of October.
With his official last day marked, the now former chief of staff spoke with The New Republic on Wednesday where he spoke of the “otherness” growing up in Minnesota after being born in Bakersfield, California to farmworkers from Mexico.
“I felt my otherness. I shied away from my Mexican culture, avoiding things like speaking Spanish, while also doing things to try to fit in, like wearing Abercrombie and Fitch,” Bonilla Chavez said in the interview after recounting how his older sister had told him about the move to Minnesota. “People are going to hate you here because of who you are.”
The “otherness” was further described as “gringo oppression” and according to the outlet, the Capitol Hill staffer said to be known around the office as “G,” now “plans to travel to Mexico City for the first time, to spend a month there, to recharge, and perhaps return to the Beltway and get back into the progressive work that motivates him.”
Bonilla Chavez was reportedly hired out of graduate school by New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) where he used his Masters in Public Policy and Economic Policy from the University of Minnesota to serve as an adviser.
Weighing in on the aide New York Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D) called “Fabuloso,” Ocasio-Cortez told The New Republic, “The perspective that G brings is not just rooted in reading about working-class experiences but being rooted in and coming from that life.”
That said, the biggest contribution cited appeared to be that “G” had made sure the congresswoman locked herself in the office bathroom on Jan. 6.
“I was heads down at my desk when I heard this pounding on the outer door of our office,” he had told The New Republic. “I didn’t know who it was, but it wasn’t like a normal knock. It was more aggressive than that–like a loud, jolting banging on the door.”
According to the outlet, “G moved quickly into action, telling Ocasio-Cortez to lock herself into the office bathroom, then locking the outer door of her workspace. There had been no announcement over the loudspeakers, no email guidance from the House sergeant at arms, no reason for anyone to be knocking on the door with such violence. The pounding continued as G secured his boos behind two sets of locked doors, then unlocked the main door to their office. A U.S. Capitol Police officer burst in shouting, ‘Where is she? Where is she?'”
The New York legislator went on to say “I think so” when asked if Bonilla Chavez was a hero.
Monday, Punchbowl News reported that Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ deputy chief of staff Mike Casca would be relocating to the lower chamber to serve as the congresswoman’s new chief of staff.
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