Who Is Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Mom?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a force to be reckoned with. She's busy shaking up D.C. and making waves as a new force for change. Ocasio-Cortez often references her mom, Blanca, as being a particularly positive force in her life. So who is Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, and what's the story that led her to the U.S. with her children? 

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a force to be reckoned with. The youngest woman to ever be sworn into Congress hails from the Bronx, identifies as a Democratic socialist, and has been one of the most talked-about people in D.C. since day one. And the Congresswoman often references her mom, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (opens in new tab), as being a particularly positive part of her life.

"Mami mopped floors, drove school buses, + answered phones. She did whatever she needed to do, for me," remembered the congresswoman in a touching Instagram post (opens in new tab). It's true—her mom has an inspiring story. So, what do we know about it?

She's from Puerto Rico.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, Blanca lived in poverty in Puerto Rico and raised her siblings while her own mother worked. Blanca later met her husband, Sergio Ocasio, who was originally from the Bronx, and the couple moved to America after getting married in Puerto Rico.

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She's worked hard to provide for her family.

Ocasio-Cortez has said, "My parents started from scratch: new languages, new life, new everything." Her dad founded an architectural firm, and Blanca helped make ends meet with secretarial and cleaning work.

Ocasio-Cortez's brother Gabriel (opens in new tab) once posted a picture of the young family:

She's a single mom.

After Ocasio passed away in 2008 (opens in new tab) from lung cancer, Blanca became the family's breadwinner. The family was struggling financially for a time, and Alexandria worked as a waitress to help make ends meet.

Blanca says that's where her daughter got her passion and connection to the issues she fights for. "She is fighting for our community,” Blanca said. "She is fighting for the working class. She is fighting for immigrants. We can relate to that. We are working class. We did struggle. We know what struggle means.”

She's supported her daughter's passion.

“Her aspiration is to be the president,” Blanca told the New York Post. (opens in new tab) “She has been thinking about politics since she was a teenager. She would read historical and political books old and new,” Blanca said.

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And Blanca always knew this would happen. “She would engage in political discussions passionately.” she told the New York Times (opens in new tab), "There was nobody who could shut her up. I saw the political tendencies since she was very, very young.”

She campaigned for Ocasio-Cortez.

Blanca spent a few days on the campaign trail and compared her daughter's win to David vs. Goliath. “It’s just incredible,” the proud mom said at the time. “I believed she would do it, but so soon—it was shocking.”

She held the Bible at Ocasio-Cortez's swearing-in.

Ocasio-Cortez posted a truly, truly touching Instagram in which she thanked her mother. "As I raised my hand for the oath, my mother held the holy book & looked into [Nancy Pelosi]'s eyes. Afterwards, the Speaker said to her “you must be so proud,” and my mother began to cry," she said.

Alexandria added, "It was not long ago that our family’s hope was so dim it was barely an ember. Darkness taught me transformation cannot solely be an individual pursuit, but also a community trust."

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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.