The character Benjamin “Ben” Dido is an invention of comedian and dramatist Herbert Siguenza, best known as one of the founders of the trio “Culture Clash”.
The comedian participated as an enthusiast volunteer in the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, and now Siguenza has created a character that channels “the disenchantment towards this election and my anger and disapproval towards Americans and, especially, other Latinos.”
Benjamin “Ben” Dido (in Spanish, phonetically, “sell out”) represents, according to Siguenza, the Latinos who claim “to be progressive, but who support Hillary Clinton and those, to me, are sell outs,” he says.
The following is an interview with the character represented by Siguenza.
Pilar Marrero: Mr. Dido, thank you for granting me this interview.
Benjamin “Ben” Dido: No, thank you. I do not give interviews because I do not trust reporters since most of them are liberals in search of the “truth”. I prefer an established and blonde journalist like you.
PM: Thank you… I think. Tell me, who are you?
BD: I’m proudly a Hispanic who supports the Hillary Clinton caricature.
PM: You mean her candidacy?
BD: Yes! Sorry, my Spanish is not so perfect. I get confused especially with clever words.
PM: In your opinion, what is the importance of the Latino Vote in this election?
BD: The Latino Vote is very important and dusty…
PM: You mean powerful?
BD: No. Latinos vote and usually nothing happens. The vote turns to dust. But Hillary Clinton is going to change things. Recently, she sat with Hispanic leaders; she gave us fresh bread and champurrado [cocoa] and asked us about the problems the Hispanic community is facing.
We said that we have children and young people who get into crime and gangs. She told us, “that is why I deported Central American refugee children to prevent that.” She’s a very intelligent woman!
PM: Why do you support Hillary Clinton?
BD: I support her for two super important reasons: first, she is a woman, second, she is not Donald Trump.
Many of my friends tell me, “But Hillary is sold out to corporations in Wall Street, voted for the war in Iraq, supports disastrous trade agreements, supports the private prison industry and is a friend of Henry Kissinger! Why do you support her, Ben Dido?” And I say, “She’s a woman. Donald Trump is not.” I think those are enough reasons, aren’t they?
PM: Do you think the Democratic Party will benefit the Latino community, I mean, Hispanic?
BD: I think so, but if it’s going to be a good game [party], they have to give us chance to play, even if it is only as goalkeeper, shouldn’t they?
PM: Do you know other Hispanic elected officials who support Clinton? And why?
BD: Good question. Almost all Hispanic politicians that I know support Hillary. They do not want to “rock the vote,” I say “rock the boat”. The funny thing is that they were all hairy Chicano activists during the 70s but went to college, became middle class members, got a haircut, got dressed at “Men’s Wearhouse” and forgot about that socialist nonsense of “helping poor people.” We, “Hispanics,” matured into moderation and Clinton is very mature and very moderate.
PM: What do you think of Bernie Sanders?
BD: That oldie socialist from Vermont?
PM: Yes. Do you think you will ever support him?
BD: Never! My young children and more than 10 million voters supported him but not me. His ideas were anti-American, I think. “Increasing wages,” “free college for all,” “undo the four big banks that govern the country,” “11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows,” What is that? Silly stuff! I do not support Trump’s wall, but Hillary will surely send thousands of troops to the border and continue with mass deportations, like Obama. So I can sleep at ease.
PM: Who are your favorite Hispanic politicians?
BD: I have the pleasure to know and play golf with many Hispanic politicians who also support Hillary Clinton, like the former mayor Antonio Villa-Alegre [Antonio Villarraigosa], the secretary of the State of California, Alex Parillada [Alex Padilla], Congressman Javier Two X [Xavier Becerra]. I also admire and know Joseph We The Czar [Jose Huizar], Al Bondigas, Al Pastor and Benjamin “Ben” Dejo. We are all members of “Hispanics for Hillary”.
PM: How do you plan to convey Hillary Clinton’s message to the Latino community?
BD: Well, we Hispanics are already sold out, I mean, committed, and we will continue spreading Hillary’s message throughout our community. I personally will go to swap meets, Lupillo Rivera’s concerts, Chivas USA games, Vallarta Supermarkets, that is, where our people come together to misinform them, I mean, to inform the masses.
PM: Thank you for the interview.
BD: You’re welcome!.. Long Live Hillary!
Who is Siguenza?
Siguenza was born in San Francisco and lived in El Salvador, from nine to seventeen years old, and returned to the United States just before the outbreak of civil war in that country. Here he lived, as he himself says, “the last times the Chicano Movement and the struggle of the Farmers Union.”
Like so many other young men of his time, Siguenza participated in marches and “sit-ins” and pursued ideals of change. But on the way, he says, “many of us graduated, became lawyers, candidates for public office and then we became part of the establishment.”
Siguenza says he has been a “loyal Democrat for 40 years,” but that his perspective has changed over time. “The party has been moving to the right from Jimmy Carter and has become a moderate Republican party,” he says.