VOTE TODAY! Election 2020 is Tuesday, November 3, 2020! 2020 is our year to express our voice! According to the Pew Hispanic Center, a record 27.3 million of Latinos were eligible to vote in 2016, most of whom are Millennials. Unfortunately, in 2016, less than half of eligible Latino Voters voted. Did YOU vote? Yes, YOU, the person holding this smartphone? Today is YOUR opportunity in 2020! For full information on polling locations and where to vote, please download the Voter Pal app from VotoLatino. YOUR vote counts!
If you’re Panamanian, today’s the day to call the wonderful women in your life and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is celebrated in Panama on December 8 of each year. The day commemorates the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ; the holy day was inaugurated by the Catholic Pope on December 8, 1854. Mother’s Day was legislated as officially occurring on December 8 in Panama in 1930, at the initiative of Panama’s then First Lady, Herlinda Arias de Arosemena.
Today, we’re blending the practical North American tradition of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) with the spiritual South American tradition of DOTD (Day of the Dead). During the DOTD, or Dia de los Muertos, Americans honor friends and family members who have passed from this world by building “ofrendas” or altars. According to the city of San Antonio’s Centro Cultural Aztlan, the altars welcome returning spirits who drop by for the Holiday. Building your altar starts with a photo of your loved one (the Aztecs had a very early version of Facebook), and continues with adding fruit punch (this is a favorite with spirits – who knew?), sweet “pan de muerto”, which is a round loaf topped with skull and cross bones, and a number of symbolic presents and mementos from the deceased person’s life. For a complete DIY for your DOTD, please visit the Texas Monthly. For a complete tour of the celebration, please view the online DOTD exhibition at the Smithsonian Latino Center. (Illustration by Marc Burckhardt for the Texas Monthly)
The Mayan Calendar is a series of complex mathematical cycles of stunning precision and breathtaking cosmology. This hieroglyph fragment was on a panel that flanked the main stairs of the Temple of the Sun in Palenque, Mexico, records a birth in mythical time that corresponds to the completion of the 13th k’atun in historical time, which was on October 25, 2360 BC. A k’atun is a unit of time in the Maya calendar equal to 20 tuns or 7,200 days, equivalent to 19.713 tropical years. For more information on this fascinating civilization, please check the book “A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya” by Linda Schele.
The Feast of Italian Saint Francis of Assisi is celebrated throughout Latin America. The Italian saint is a particular favorite in Mexico and Puerto Rico, where he is said to assist with harvest rituals. While the true biography of Saint Francis of Assisi is shrouded in legend, the essential story is that he was the son of a wealthy merchant and was a soldier until he had a mystical experience and dedicated himself to Christianity. He founded the Franciscan religious order, and traveled extensively throughout the known world to preach. The Spanish named the city that became one of the most beloved in America for their beloved Saint, San Francisco. Image of St. Francis portrayed in Mexican Colonial style from the Figge Art Museum.
Within the beautifully carved walls of a Mayan royal residence, the future ruler, Radiant Snake Jaguar, was born in Palenque, Mexico, on September 18, 524 in the Western Calendar. Palenque was a Maya city state in southern Mexico, with ruins that date from 226 BC to its fall in about 1123 AD. Chan Bahlam, as he was known in the Mayan language, ascended the throne in September 524. (Image from “Maya Royal Dynasties”, revised by Inga E. Calvin, 2012)
August 11, 3117 BCE. Yes, you read this date correctly, 3117 BCE, Before Christian Era. That’s over 5129 years ago. This date is the beginning of the most recent cycle of the Mayan Calendar, which completed on December 21, 2012. As noted, the world did not end, so hopefully, you did not tell off your irritating boss or go shopping with your 401(k) funds. The event was celebrated in the Mayan world, as a new era began. Hopefully in this era, the Mayans will gain respect and acknowledgement of their sophisticated and complex culture, and they won’t have to wait another 5000 years for this overdue recognition. (To really, really learn about Mayan culture beyond the latest hype, please read a book by Professor Dennis Tedlock, one of which is featured in the image.)
March 20 is World Story Telling Day, celebrating the ancient human tradition of oral story telling. This tradition has lived for centuries in Mexico and South American countries, known as the National Day of Story Tellers. (Image by Shalako Indian Art Store)
Happy Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout the Americas, and is known as Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) in Central and South America. Gentlemen and caballeros, if you have not gotten a gift or remembrance for your loved one or amante, this is a friendly reminder. For further inspiration, please see the romantic poems of Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez Bastida, born on February 17. According to our educated estimate, Hispanic, Latino, Chicano and North American men are all in equal amounts of trouble if you forget Valentine’s Day.
Feliz Día de San Valentín. Día de San Valentín se celebra en todo el continente americano, y se conoce como Día del Amor y la Amistad (Día del Amor y la Amistad) en Centroamérica y América del Sur. Señores y caballeros, si usted no ha recibido un regalo o un recuerdo de su ser querido o amante, este es un recordatorio amistoso. Para más inspiración, por favor vea los poemas románticos de Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez Bastida, nació el 17 de febrero. De acuerdo con nuestra estimación educada, hispano, chicano latinos, y los hombres de América del Norte están todos en la misma cantidad de problemas si se olvida el Día de San Valentín.
Feast Day of the Patron Virgin of the Dominican Republic, known as Our Lady of Altagracia or Our Lady of High Grace. This is a portrait of the Virgin Mary painted on a cloth 13 inches wide and 18 inches long, during the early 1500’s in Spain. Two Spanish brothers brought the portrait to Santo Domingo. Many Hispanic-Americans from the Dominican Republic make a pilgrimage to the site in their home country on the feast day.
El Dia de los Reyes Magos is celebrated in many countries throughout the Americas. Puerto Ricans celebrate with a caroling block party called alsaltos navideños or parrandas. While the caroling starts at the beginning of Advent and lasts throughout the season, January 6 is particularly celebrated with song. Carolers go house to house, enjoying holiday treats such as papaya sweets, Spanish nougat, marzipan, and of course rum, beer, and coquito, spiked Puerto Rican eggnog. Nuyoricans (that’s Puerto Ricans living in New York) participate in the annual parade hosted by El Museo del Barrio in the Bronx.
Children in Puerto Rico begin to prepare for the celebration of el Dia de los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings or Epiphany). Since the kings are riding horses and camels (not reindeer), the children gather grass to feed the kings’ animals. The children put the grass in shoe boxes under their beds on the evening of January 5, hoping that by morning the boxes will be filled with gifts.
Welcome to the Latinx Hispanic Almanac, where we celebrate Latinas and Latinos every day of the year! During the year, you’ll discover the Latinx culture and people that have been part of the United States of America for centuries and on the continents of the Americas for thousands of years. We appreciate your interest, and promise to deliver thoughtful and inspiring content for you. Please visit our sites on the contribution of the Spanish and Latinx to the American Revolutionary War at www.OurAmericanHistory.com / www.NuestraHistoriaAmericana.com, and our Facebook Page.
New Year’s Eve is celebrated throughout the Americas, with parties, fireworks, traditional food and family dinners. In Spain, Spaniards gather in the central plaza at Puerta del Sol, and eat one grape for each chime of the clock at midnight (this is actually a little more difficult than it sounds, particularly if your grapes are big). This tradition was carried to the New World, and party goers in countries such as Mexico make a wish with each grape. In Panama, the town of Las Tablas has an early version of February carnival, with an extravagant competition for Carnival Queen. The citizens of Puerto Rico spend the day housecleaning, and the evening toasting with friends and family over a dinner of bacalao (cod). Whichever country you choose to spend New Year, you’ll find a warm Latinx welcome throughout the Americas. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your discovery of the Americas this year, and that our Almanac has given you opportunities to think of and perhaps even to love the peoples of the Americas. Please join us next year for more digital adventures. (Image of fireworks on the skyline of la ciudade de Panama, Panama.)
The Feast of the Holy Innocents is celebrated in Mexico each year on December 28 in Mexico. The holiday is based on traditions from the Canary Islands, near the coast of Spain. The day is devoted to fun — children play at being adults, and pranks (as in April Fool’s Day in North America) are part of the revelry. But beware, if you lend any of your possessions on this day, they may never be returned. (Image from www.HappySaints.com)
After all of the late night celebrations, partying and dancing for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), Christmas Day in South and Central America is a quieter celebration with family and friends. In North America, traditions and celebrations intertwine. In the words of Cuban American author, Gustavo Perez Firmat, “The older Cubans, mostly men like my father and my uncles, celebrated noche buena; their American-born grandchildren did the same for Christmas…. During these balanced years, the prospect of a Christmas morning made noche buena a little more sedate, and noche buena made Christmas a little more lively.” (Image of undocumented Mexicans that usually cross the US border for the Holiday season. Please see January 12, 1828 for more information.)
Nochebuena, as Christmas Eve is also known in the Americas, is joyously celebrated with family, a religious service, and a traditional dinner menu. The traditions are varied among cultures and celebrations are often elaborate. In Puerto Rico, the Nochebuena meal can include roast pork, pigeon peas, sausages, and a variety of side dishes. Parrandas, essentially a caroling block party, begin during the season of Advent in Puerto Rico and continue through Nochebuena. In Mexico, the final Posada of the season is celebrated on Christmas Eve. The word “Posada” means inn (or hotel) and commemorates the Biblical story of the Holy Family searching for a room on the first Christmas Eve. The Posadas begin on December 16, and are a series of nightly processions and parties as participants walk from house to house. The Nochebuena Posada is followed by a late night Christmas mass, and then by a family dinner at midnight, which can include bacalao (cod) and ponche, a spicy fruit drink that is served warm. In whichever country, region, or tradition you are spending your holiday, we wish you a Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas. Image of book cover of the children’s story on the Flower of Christmas Eve by Tomie dePaola
With the irresistible beat of Latin Jazz, the Havana International Jazz Festival opens in Cuba on December 15, 2013. Chucho Valdés and the Cuban Institute of Music warmly invite you to visit Havana for the music and fun. (Please see October 9, 1941 for more on Chucho.) The Festival is usually hosted in early January and features top Latin American and Caribbean artists. According to the organization’s web site, legal travel for performing musicians of the USA can be arranged – so start practicing your instrument now ;-). Please visit www.jazzcuba.com for details.
Today is the Feast day of the Virgen de las Mercedes (Virgin of Mercy) and the day to honor the Santeria god Obatalá. The Virgin is honored throughout South and Central America and in Spain and Portugal. Obatalá is honored in Cuba and Brazil, and is also considered as part of the Yoruba religion. For more information on the Yoruba influence in the Americas, please visit the Smithsonian digital exhibit, the Yoruba – Dahomean Collection: Orishas across the Ocean.
September 15 is the official start of our nation’s annual celebration of Hispanic / Latinx Heritage Month, which continues through October 15. Latinx Heritage Week was initially approved by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, and in 1988 President Ronald Reagan extended the week to a month of celebration. September 15 was selected since five Latin American countries celebrate their independence on this day. (Image by Purdue University Latino Cultural Center)
September 8 is the annual Feast of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Virgin of the Charity of Copper). The Virgin is nicknamed “Cachita” and she is highly revered in Cuba. During colonial times, the Virgin is believed to have intervened on behalf of native Cubans, saving them during a violent storm as they fled from the Spanish. The Virgin then took up residence in the mountains in an area with copper mines, where she is honored with a shrine. Practitioners of Santería (an AfroCaribbean religion) honor and celebrate their goddess of love, Ochún, on this day as well. (Photo by Rafael de la Osa)
The curtains opened on July 11, 2013, as stages throughout the Americas were illuminated by the 28th annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival (IHTF) of Miami. IHTF is presented by Teatro Avante, and offers renowned theater companies in performances in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Mexico City (Mexico), Quito (Ecuador), and Pais Vasco (Spain). Please visit www.TeatroAvante.com for more information and upcoming events.
May 1 is celebrated as May Day, International Workers Day, and Día del Trabajo in many countries around the world. It is an official holiday in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela – among other South and Central American countries. On May 1, 2006, Latino, Catholic, and immigrant rights groups organized the Great American Boycott to protest proposed bill HR 4437. The bill’s objectives were to make residing in the US illegally a felony and to impose harsher penalties for knowingly employing or harboring non-citizens.
Obviously, the world did not end on December 21, 2012. Instead, another complex mathematical cycle of thousands of years passed in the Mayan Calendar. The day was celebrated in the Mayan world, and in the night skies over places such as Antigua, Guatemala, glowing kites majestically soared in the dark air. The rich heritage of the Mayan civilization has only recently been unlocked, as late 20th century scholars began to understand the sophisticated pictograms that the Mayans used for writing. (Please see August 11, 3117 BCE for more information on the Mayan Calendar. Image of the flag of the Mayan Nation, Creative Commons)
December 9, 2012 was the day the music died for millions of Latino fans of Dolores Janney Rivera, when the young, beloved entertainer was killed in a fiery airplane crash. Known as Jenni Rivera, the Mexican American singer, songwriter, television producer and entrepreneur was born in Long Beach, California in 1969. Rivera became pregnant at age 15 with the first of her five children. In the determination and verve that characterized her life, Rivera earned her GED at a continuation school and graduated as valedictorian. Rivera’s musical style was characterized as banda, a traditional regional Mexican music, to which she brought a deeply personal and contemporary panache. Rivera sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and was nominated at four of the annual Latin Grammys.
The US Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) celebrated the 2012 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week award winners on December 6, 2012. The annual awards recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and entities that made a major impact on the growth of minority business enterprises. Among the recipients was Congressman Silvestre Reyes, a driving force of economic growth in his district of El Paso, Texas. Two Latino organizations were among the awardees: Accion, a non-profit organization that assists in providing business credit and training for entrepreneurs, and the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (EDBPR), which offers development and financing opportunities to small and medium sized local enterprises.
To applause and laughter, “El Show con Tony Benitez” premiered on GENTV in Miami on December 3, 2012. The premier included Tito Puente, Jr., son of the legendary mambo musician, and a special performance by the cast of the Broadway Musical STOMP. A director and co-creator of the show summarized its comedic mission as, “Our creative inspiration draws from the Golden Age of Comedy, ranging from Syd Caesar all the way to present day late night icons like Conan Obrien, yet immersed in our Hispanic roots and brought to life with the extraordinary talent of Tony Benitez and his cast.”
Southwest Airlines and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities announced the names of the students who earned the annual “Lanzate/Take Off” Education Travel Award on October 22, 2012. More than 400 students from around the country completed online entries and essays for the competition, detailing how the travel award would help them achieve their goal to pursue higher education. The students are awarded round-trip tickets for themselves or members of their immediate families to visit colleges and universities near any of the 78 airports that Southwest Airlines serves. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and represents approximately 450 colleges and universities. (Image from 2010 Southwestern Airlines Awards)
To thunderous applause, the Festival Internacional Cervantino began its annual program of theater, music and culture in the beautiful city of Guanajuato, Mexico on October 13, 2012. The Festival started in the mid-20th century, when short plays by Miguel de Cervantes called “entreméses” were performed in the city’s plazas. (Cervantes is the famous Spanish writer whose most well-known book is “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha”, published in 1605.) In 1972, the Mexican government began to provide financial support for the festival, and it has evolved to be one of the most inspiring international artistic and cultural events in Mexico and the Americas. Please visit www.FestivalCervantino.gob.mx, or even better, please visit the Festival this year.
As 7000 people applauded, President Barack Obama dedicated the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument on October 8, 2012. This is the first national monument to honor a contemporary Mexican American. The Monument is located on a 187-acre site, known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), which was a center of the United Farm Workers of America. Beginning in 1971, La Paz was the locale where Chavez and many organizers lived and strategized. (Photo by Carolyn Kaster / AP)
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) announced that Javier Miyares was appointed as President of UMUC on October 1, 2012. Miyares was born in Cuba, and escaped to the US as a teen-ager. Miyares joined UMUC in 2001 as vice president for institutional effectiveness. Previously, he served the USM office as assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs. (Photo by Bob Ludwig)
The exhibition “Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias” premiered at the US Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Arias was a Peruvian immigrant who arrived in New York in 1923 during the Great Depression, at the age of 22. Arias became an accomplished composer, musician, journalist, activist and educator. Her musical composition, Huiracocha, was celebrated worldwide. In 1946, the US State department commissioned her to provide an official Spanish translation of “The Star Spangled Banner”, the US National Anthem.
On September 18, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) announced a new campaign to combat racial profiling during police traffic stops in North Carolina. The ACLU spent years investigating reports of racial profiling and racially biased policing in traffic stops across the state. A recent report from a University of North Carolina professor found that in North Carolina, African American drivers are 77% more likely than white drivers to be searched after a traffic stop, while Latinx drivers are 96% more likely than white drivers to be searched. For more on the ACLU defense of Latinx, please visit the ACLU web site.
On August 3, 2012, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio celebrated the 19th anniversary of the “Tent City”, a camp that he established in Maricopa County to imprison undocumented people and criminals. The tents are unheated in winter and uncooled in summer—inside temperatures have been recorded as high as 145 degrees. To humiliate these human beings seeking a better life, Arpaio forces them to dress in 19th century chain-gang stripes, and forces male prisoners to wear pink underpants. Tent City is ranked as one of America’s 10 worst prisons. A 2011 Justice Department report found “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” in the jails run by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
The US Navy continued its program to honor diversity among our troops. The Navy’s Facebook page for week of July 30, 2012 featured Commander Debra Yniguez, who began her career as a Student Naval Aerospace Physiologist in 1995. Yniguez is a Latina in a traditionally male field, and is now posted as Deputy Diversity Officer for the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, where she mentors aspiring Navy personnel. Yniguez is recognized in the Navy’s “Beyond the Call” diversity campaign for making a positive impact in the communities where she serves.
With a flutter of her eyelashes and a giggle, supermodel Valentina Guerrero made her catwalk debut in Miami, Florida. The then 10-month-old swimwear model, who has Downs syndrome, was selected as the representative model for DC Kids, a charming collection of children’s clothing. Please visit Valentina on her Facebook Page, and say Hello.
The US Navy honored the diversity of its forces with the launch of its “Beyond the Call” diversity campaign on July 18, 2012. The campaign highlights servicemen and servicewomen who have extended themselves beyond the call of duty professionally and personally, and are making a positive impact in the communities where they serve. These Navy personnel are working to be “A Global Force for Good”. Their stories are released biweekly on the US Navy Latino Facebook page. (Image from www.facebook.com/NavyLatinos)
Family is family and familia es familia – sometimes we all need to be reminded of this principle of the human heart. On July 8, 2012, twenty-one of the US’ leading Hispanic organizations announced their endorsement of an unprecedented education campaign, “Familia es familia”. The campaign’s mission is to build support within the Latino community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, each and all of whom belong to a family. The twenty-one prestigious organizations included the Dolores Huerta Foundation, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MANA – A National Latina Organization, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and National Council of La Raza (NCLR). More information at www.FamiliaEsFamilia.org
On July 6, 2012, the annual Festival of Latin American Youth Theater opened in Quito, Ecuador. The Festival annually showcases young talent from Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia. The program includes workshops for aspiring artists.
Dancers and singers, June 18, 2012 was the final day to submit your audition to Tr3s: MTV, Musica y Mas, for the “Dame Un Break” (“Give Me a Break”) talent competition. Sponsored by Wendy’s Restaurants (no, she’s not Latinx, just generous), aspiring Latinx artists battle for a chance at stardom. The winner worked with Tr3s executives and a Grammy Award-winning producer on a hit single and music video.
Los bailarines y cantantes, 18 de junio 2012 fue el último día para enviar su audición para Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más, para el “Break Dame Un” (“Give Me a Break”) la competencia de talento. Patrocinado por los restaurantes de Wendy (no, no es latina, sólo generoso), que aspiran batalla artistas latinos para tener la oportunidad de alcanzar el estrellato. El ganador trabaja con ejecutivos de Tr3s y un ganador de un premio Grammy productor en un solo golpe y video musical.
On June 3, 2012, three beautiful, talented Latinas dazzled the USA as they competed for Miss USA 2012: Miss Mississippi Myverick Garcia, Miss Colorado Marybel Gonzalez, and Miss New York Johanna Sambucini. Garcia was a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi and earned a degree in biological sciences. She is the first member of her family to graduate from college. Gonzalez was awarded the Daniels Fund Scholarship, and attended Pomona College. She was awarded the Ritchner Award for Undergraduate Research on Women’s Rights for her studies in Argentina. Dominican-Italian Sambucini is a Cum Laude graduate of Wagner College and worked full-time as a model and actress while pursuing an MBA. (I was concerned that your Droid would short-circuit if I posted pictures of all three women simultaneously, so I had to pick one. Sorry!)
El 3 de junio de 2012, tres latinas hermosas y talentosas deslumbrado los EE.UU., ya que compitieron por Miss EE.UU. 2012: Miss Mississippi Myverick García, Miss Colorado Marybel González, y Miss Nueva York Johanna Sambucini. García era su último año en la Universidad del Sur de Mississippi y obtuvo una licenciatura en ciencias biológicas. Ella es el primer miembro de su familia en graduarse de la universidad. González fue galardonado con la Beca del Fondo Daniels, y asistió a Pomona College. Fue galardonada con el Premio de Investigación de Pregrado Ritchner Derechos de la Mujer para sus estudios en Argentina. Dominico-Italiana Sambucini se graduó Cum Laude de Wagner College y trabajaba a tiempo completo como modelo y actriz, mientras que hacer un MBA. (Estábamos preocupados de que tu Droid haría corto circuito si hemos publicado fotos de las tres mujeres al mismo tiempo, así que tuvimos que coger uno.)
On May 11, 2012, the fourth annual Pachanga Latino Music Festival opened in Austin, Texas. The Festival featured international, national and local artists such as Los Lonely Boys, Chico Trujillos, Ana Tijoux, Alejandro Escovedo, Forro in the Dark, Ruben Ramos and The Mexican Revolution, La Santa Cecilia, and Girl In A Coma. Niños Rock Pachanga is also celebrated, and is an interactive festival for children to experience Latin culture, art and music. For information on the next Pachanga Fest, please visit their FaceBook Page. (Photo from Pachangafest.com)
On April 25, 2012, the US Supreme Court heard the case brought by the US Department of Justice against the State of Arizona’s SB1070 anti-immigrant law. The controversial law has been heatedly debated throughout the nation. The following is the opening statement, as prepared for delivery, by US Congressional Representative Luis V. Gutierrez: “The Obama Administration’s case against Arizona’s SB1070 is an important effort by the Attorney General and the President to take a stand against racial profiling. They are showing that when injustice is condoned by individual states in express violation of the Constitution, the federal government can and will take action to protect the rights of its people.” (Photo by Competitive Enterprise Institute)
Hispanicize 2012 opened on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Their web site describes the event as: “Hispanicize 2012 brings brands, media, marketers, celebrities, filmmakers, innovators and bloggers together in a unique creative environment focused on creative ideas and best practices. The conference is a launch pad for creative endeavors, new products, technologies, marketing campaigns, films, books and more targeting Latinos.” As of 2017, Hispanicize is in its 8th year, continuing to inspire Latinos and Latinas in the Media. Please visit the Hispanicize FaceBook Page.
On January 24, 2012, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address. US Congressman Francisco Canseco delivered the Spanish-language Republican Address to the nation following the President’s address. Canseco was elected in 2010 to serve the 23rd District of Texas. A native of Laredo, Canseco is the son of immigrants from Mexico. Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, also from Texas, represented Latino Democrats with the following statement, “What the President laid out this evening was a choice– for the leaders of this country as well as the people of America. We can remain entrenched in an unproductive partisan debate or we can unite and work together on the issues necessary to create growth and prosperity. At a time when we see a shrinking middle class, our country needs to restore our values to ensure hard work pays off and that Americans can work and retire with dignity. … Latinos have so much at stake. Caucasians have 18 times more household wealth than their Hispanic peers, but we can help narrow the achievement gap by building an economy that will last for all Americans.”
The Guardian, a well-established newspaper based in the United Kingdom (UK), reported on December 26, 2011 that the nation of Brazil had triumphed over the British and replaced the UK as the world’s sixth largest economy. The CEO of the Centre for Economics and business Research (CEBR) noted, “Brazil has beaten the European countries at soccer for a long time, but beating them at economics is a new phenomenon. Our world economic league table shows how the economic map is changing ….” (Image by Felipe Dana/AP)
The annual national conference of LATISM went live in Chicago on November 9, 2011. LATISM, a nonprofit organization, is the largest organization of Latinos engaged in social media. LATISM is dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community. LATISM also works to raise awareness among corporate brands, NGOs and government entities on how to use social media to engage Latinos. Please visit LATISM.org for more information.
Reflecting in a distant mirror the courageous civil rights activists who preceded them, five young Latinos wearing graduation caps and gowns staged a sit-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Los Angeles, California on October 12, 2011. The five students were brought to the US by their families as children. The young graduates urged the Obama administration to stop deporting undocumented youths, and to pass the DREAM act. During the first term of the Obama administration, US officials deported undocumented people at record rates. Nancy Meza, one of the civil rights advocates who participated in the sit-in, stated, “We have grown up in this country and consider this home. Most importantly, I am taking part in this action to remind this country of its values; human values and constitutional values.” The poster that Nancy is holding refers to Governor Jerry Brown of California.
Richard Alfred Tapia is a highly respected American mathematician who has championed minority students in the sciences. On September 28, 2011, US President Barack Obama awarded Tapia and 11 other scientists the National Medal of Science. Tapia created four day workshops on computational science for teachers from schools with high minority enrollments. He has also mentored minority PhD students in science. (Please see March 25, 1939 for more information on Tapia).
The Mexican Museum in San Francisco, California, opened the Tequila Don Julio Collection on September 23, 2011. This art collection reflected the modern, dynamic artistic expression of Mexican and Mexican-American people. The Mexican Museum was founded in 1975. The mission of The Mexican Museum is to voice the complexity and richness of Latino art and culture throughout the Americas, and to engage and facilitate dialogue among the broadest public.
Mexican actor and Hollywood star Gael Garcia Bernal interviewed with NPR (National Public Radio) News to discuss “The Invisibles”, a series of short documentaries on Central American people traveling through Mexico to reach the US. The Central Americans are victimized by criminal and drug gangs in Mexico, and many who cannot pay ransoms or secure funds are murdered. Bernal spent time interviewing migrants and the Mexican people who work to assist them, saying that, “I think I’ve seen the best of humanity in terms of fraternity, the people that travel – that do this journey together. They are embarking themselves on the biggest adventure of their lives and they are doing it for the better of their kids and their families. There’s no other interest other than this.”
With music, song and art, the first biannual Celebración Artística de las Américas (CALA) Festival was celebrated in Arizona on September 14, 2011. The CALA Alliance is an Arizona community-based organization dedicated to educating and inspiring all Arizonans about the richness of the Latino cultural heritage. The Festival includes performances, exhibits, in-school activities, food, and events over a period of about two months in multiple venues across the state. More information about these courageous souls and their mission is available at www.CalaAlliance.org
With a stellar concert line-up and a donation of 75,000 pounds of food to local charities, Goya Foods launched its nationwide 75th anniversary party on August 19, 2011. The concert line-up included Latino stars Marc Anthony, Ana Gabriel, and Marco Antonio Solis. Now a billion dollar enterprise with over 3,000 employees, Goya Foods was founded by a Spanish husband and wife team, at a small storefront in Lower Manhattan, New York. Achieving the American Dream Goya is now the leading Latinx food company in the US, offering over 1,500 delicious products.
As glasses clinked and guests smiled, Hector V. Baretto introduced the newly produced tequila spirit, Tributo a Mi Padre (Tribute to My Father), at the 6th Annual East LA Meets Napa Premiere Food and Wine Tasting Event on July 8, 2011. The honored padre was Hector Barreto Sr., an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico. Arriving in the US to better his life, Baretto Sr. began by digging potatoes for 80 cents an hour. In true American Dream style, he became a successful businessman, co-founded the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and worked on President Ronald Reagan’s transition team. His son, Hector V. Barreto, in addition to his tequila talents, served as the Administrator of the US Small Business Administration, appointed by President George W. Bush. More information is at www.TributoTequila.com.
On June 28, 2011, Assistant Senate Majority Leader U.S. Senator Dick Durbin chaired the first US Senate Hearing on the DREAM Act before the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration. The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) provides conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented individuals of good moral character who graduate from US high schools, arrived in the US as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. Qualifications for permanent residency are based on educational achievement or military service. This Act was first introduced in 2001. (Image by CRCNA.org)
June 24, 2011 was the release date of the movie “A Better Life”. The film was directed by Chris Weitz and is based on a story by Roger L. Simon. The poignant drama centers on a father trying to make a life in America for himself and his son. The father is a Mexican immigrant who works as a gardener while his son struggles to stay in school and out of gangs. Demián Bichir and José Julián star as the central characters; Bichir was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film. A “must see” movie for the dear readers of this Almanac.
24 de junio 2011 fue la fecha de estreno de la película “Una Vida Mejor”. La película fue dirigida por Chris Weitz y se basa en una historia de Roger L. Simon. Los centros de drama conmovedor sobre un padre tratando de ganarse la vida en Estados Unidos así como a su hijo. El padre es un inmigrante mexicano que trabaja como jardinero, mientras que su hijo se esfuerza por permanecer en la escuela y fuera de las pandillas. Demián Bichir y José Julián estrella como los personajes centrales; Bichir fue nominado para un Premio de la Academia por su interpretación en la película. Un “debe ver” película para los queridos lectores de este almanaque.
On June 22, 2011, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Jose Antonio Vargas revealed his story, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” in the New York Times. Filipino American Vargas had immigrated to the US when he was 12 years old. In his essay, Vargas revealed that his grandparents had not told him that his green card was falsified. He learned this when he was 16 and attempted to apply for a driver’s license. Vargas did not want to leave the country that he had grown up in, and hoped that by working hard and contributing, he could earn his citizenship. Vargas considers himself as an undocumented immigrant, not an illegal alien, and like millions of other undocumented immigrants, is praying for the passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act.
El 22 de junio de 2011, ganador del Premio Pulitzer escritor José Antonio Vargas reveló su historia: “Mi vida como un inmigrante indocumentado”, en el New York Times. Filipino-Estadounidense Vargas había emigrado a los EE.UU. cuando tenía 12 años de edad. En su ensayo, Vargas reveló que sus abuelos no le había dicho que su tarjeta de residencia ha sido falsificada. Se enteró de esto cuando tenía 16 años y trató de solicitar una licencia de conducir. Vargas no quería salir del país que había crecido, y expresó la esperanza de que trabajando duro y contribuyendo, podría ganar su ciudadanía. Vargas se considera como un inmigrante indocumentado, no un extranjero ilegal, y al igual que otros millones de inmigrantes indocumentados, está orando por la aprobación de la DREAM (Desarrollo, Alivio y Educación para Menores Extranjeros).
On June 16, 2011, Tucson’s ethnic studies program was declared illegal and anti-American. In 2010, the Arizona state legislature signed a law that bans classes from kindergarten to 12th grade that, among other grave errors, are designed primarily for a single ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity. The Tucson school district was threatened with an end to $15 million in state funding unless the programs were stopped. The audit of the 11th grade materials noted that the “Curriculum and materials repeatedly emphasize the importance of building Hispanic nationalism and unity in the face of assimilation and oppression.” And shhhh! Please don’t tell anyone in Arizona that the wonderful company hosting our illegal Latinx Hispanic Almanac content and web site are headquartered in their state. (Image of subversive anti-American activities from Tucson School District web site.)
El 16 de junio de 2011, programa de estudios étnicos de Tucson se declaró ilegal y anti-estadounidense. En 2010, la legislatura del estado de Arizona aprobó una ley que prohíbe a las clases desde el preescolar hasta el grado 12 que, entre otros graves errores, están diseñadas principalmente para un solo grupo étnico o defensor solidaridad étnica. El distrito escolar de Tucson fue amenazado con poner fin a US $ 15 millones en fondos estatales a menos que los programas se detuvo. La auditoría de los materiales de los grados 11 señaló que el “Plan de estudios y materiales repetidamente hincapié en la importancia de construir el nacionalismo hispánico y la unidad frente a la asimilación y la opresión.” Por favor no le digas a nadie en Arizona que la maravillosa compañía de hosting nuestro Almanaque hispano ilegal contenido tiene su sede central en su estado. (Imagen de subversivos actividades antiamericanas de Tucson sitio web del Distrito Escolar.)
June 16, 2011 was the first day of issue for the US postal stamp honoring Dr. Severo Ochoa. In 1959, Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in physiology for his discovery of the process to make RNA (ribonucleic acid) in a test tube. Ochoa was born in Luarca, Spain. He emigrated during the Spanish Civil War, eventually settling in the US with his family.
16 de junio 2011 fue el primer día de emisión de la estampilla postal de EE.UU. honor del Dr. Severo Ochoa. En 1959, Ochoa ganó el Premio Nobel en Fisiología por su descubrimiento del proceso para hacer ARN (ácido ribonucleico) en un tubo de ensayo. Ochoa nació en Luarca, España. Él emigró durante la Guerra Civil Española, colocando eventual en los EE.UU. con su familia.
On June 13, 2011, Hispanicize, a leading Latinx social media content and marketing services platform, announced that it had negotiated a new business with two of the nation’s most influential Latina bloggers, Piera Jolly of JollyMom and Eva Smith of Tech.Food.Life. The new venture is the Latina Mom Bloggers network (www.LatinaMomBloggers.com). The goal of the network is to assist brands and marketing agencies to create tailored blogger engagement and social media campaigns that tap into the growing influence of Latina bloggers. (Co-founder Eva Smith is pictured.)
El 13 de junio de 2011, Hispanicize, un importante contenido latino medios de comunicación social y la plataforma de servicios de marketing, anunció que había negociado con dos de los bloggers más influyentes de la nación Latina, Piera Jolly de JollyMom y Eva Smith de Tech.Food.Life. La nueva empresa es la mamá Latina Bloggers red (www.LatinaMomBloggers.com). El objetivo de la red es ayudar a las marcas y agencias de marketing para crear adaptado compromiso blogger y campañas en los medios sociales que aprovechan la creciente influencia de los bloggers latinas. (Co-fundador Eva Smith es la foto.)
On June 8, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released the news that the Obama Administration planned to bring a lawsuit against Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070. Among other provisions, the law decreed it a misdemeanor crime for an “alien human being” to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents. (Hmm … isn’t the term “alien human being” an oxymoron?) SB 1070 also mandated that law enforcement officers attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant. (In brief, if they are Latino, ask for ID.) Clinton was speaking with an Ecuadorian TV journalist. (Image by LatinoPOV.com)
El 8 de junio de 2011, la secretaria de Estado Hillary Rodham Clinton lanzó la noticia de que el gobierno de Obama planea presentar una demanda contra la controvertida ley de inmigración de Arizona, SB 1070. Entre otras disposiciones, la ley lo decreta un delito menor por un “humano extraterrestre” para estar en Arizona sin llevar los documentos requeridos. (Mmm … no es el término “humano extraterrestre” un oxímoron?) SB 1070 también ordenó que las fuerzas del orden tratan de determinar el estado de inmigración de una persona durante una “parada legal, detención o arresto” cuando exista una sospecha razonable de que el individuo es un inmigrante ilegal. (En breve, si es que son latinos, pedir identificación.) Clinton estaba hablando con un periodista de la televisión ecuatoriana. (Imagen por LatinoPOV.com)
On May 31, 2011, President Barak Obama appointed Dr. Alicia Abella to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Abella is the Executive Director of the Innovative Services Research Department at AT&T, where she manages research on data mining, user interfaces, IPTV, mobile services, and SIP/VoIP technology. Abella earned her PhD and MS in computer science from Columbia University and a BS in computer science from New York University.
On May 19, 2011, Frankie Maybee of Green Forest, Arkansas, was convicted by jury of five counts of committing a federal hate crime. In June 2010, Maybee and his accomplice targeted five Hispanic men in a gas station parking lot. Though Maybee did not know the men and the five did not do or say anything to provoke them, Maybee yelled racial epithets at the men. Assuming, of course, that all Hispanics are from Mexico, he told them to “go back to Mexico.” When the victims drove away, Maybee and his accomplice pursued them in Maybee’s truck. Maybee rammed into the victims’ car repeatedly, causing the victims’ car to crash into a tree and ignite. The victims were badly injured; one sustained life-threatening injuries. According to the Justice Department, Maybee and his accomplice were the first defendants in the nation to be convicted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
On March 30, 2011, the nation of Peru welcomed back to Peru over 45,000 Incan artifacts that were “taken” over 100 years earlier from the famed citadel of Machu Picchu. The artifacts were at Yale University; the government of Peru held that they were on loan, not a gift, and wanted back their heritage. The Peruvian government successfully filed a lawsuit against Yale in 2008. (Photo by AFP)
In honor of the bicentennials (200 year anniversaries) of the nations of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, and of the shared history and values of the US and South America, the symposium “Creating Freedom in the Americas, 1776-1826” was celebrated in Washington, DC on November 19, 2010. The symposium was co-hosted by the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, and featured leading historians of the revolutionary periods in Latin America, Brazil, Haiti and the US. The symposium’s panel sessions included: The Americas on the Eve of the Independence Movements, Comparing Independence Movements in the Americas, and Constitution-Making in the Western Hemisphere. A recording of the symposium is available free at http://www.ustream.tv. (Image of the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Resources are available online at www.LOC.gov.)
Sometimes, you just cannot have too much of a good thing, particularly when you’re trying to set a Guinness World Record. This dictum also applies to a favorite Mexican immigrant, the burrito. The largest burrito on record was prepared on November 3, 2010 in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The burrito was made from a single flour tortilla that weighed over 2 tons and measured 1.49 miles (2.4 kilometers). The tortilla was filled with fish, onions, chilies, and refried beans. Over 3000 volunteers and 54 restaurants participated, under the leadership of the national Mexican food industry association, CANIRAC (Cámara Nacional de la Industria Restaurantes y Alimentos Condimentados). The machine used to roll out the tortilla was specially designed and adapted by Blas Avila, and required 9.5 hours to cover the full 1.49 miles. The final delicious dish weighed 12,786 pounds (5,799 kilograms).
To jubilant cheers and heartfelt tears, the horrific mine accident crisis in Copiapó, Chile came to a happy conclusion as the last of 33 miners resurfaced from deep in the earth. The 33 men were trapped for 69 days, over 2300 feet underground and about 3 miles from the entrance to the mine. As the world watched the dramatic rescue, mining specialists from around the globe rushed to assist the Chilean government and mining community. The nation was determined to bring home their men. The Chilean miners were commended for their organization, leadership, and high morale throughout the terrible ordeal. One of the leaders, Mario Sepulveda (nicknamed “Super Mario”) said in an interview, “The only thought that kept going through my head was that I didn’t want to die before my children had an education. It sounds like a crazy thought but that is so important to me.” (No, Mario, I don’t think that it was a crazy thought.) Their heroic story was movingly captured in the 2015 movie The 33 / Los 33. (Image released to the public by the Government of Chile)
Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, and journalist Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa was announced as the winner of the Nobel prize for literature on October 7, 2010. Llosa is regarded as one of Latin America’s most inspiring and significant authors, with international reputation and regard. Llosa began his acceptance speech in praise of literature and reading, “Once upon a time, there was a boy who learned to read at the age of five. This changed his life. Owing to the adventure tales he read, he discovered a way to escape from the poor house, the poor country and the poor reality in which he lived, and to journey to wonderful, mesmerizing places peopled with the most beautiful beings and the most surprising things, where every day and every night brought a more intense, more thrilling, more unusual form of bliss.” (Photo by the Nobel Foundation, Orasisfoto)
The Mexican Naval Infantry made a dark discovery on August 25, 2010, when they found 72 corpses near the US Mexican border. The victims were believed to be migrants from Central and South America, murdered by a drug cartel. This grim incident was the largest single body count since Mexican President Felipe Calderón made his courageous decision to battle the Mexican drug cartels. While the victims lie in the earth south of the US border, the customers for the drug cartels are the unscathed law breakers north of the border: Mexico’s horrible drug war is fueled by unlawful sales of illegal drugs willingly purchased by US consumers.
On July 7, 2010 the new South American currency, the Sucre, was used for the first time in an international trade transaction. The Sucre (Unitary System of Regional Compensation) is the currency developed by the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), enabling member states to trade internally without the US dollar. As explained by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, “It is a very simple concept: instead of using a currency from outside of the region to trade in goods and services, we use this compensation system where you pay in national currency to your respective exporters and in that way the international currency isn’t needed.” Cuba is a member of ALBA, which is why we will not be hearing much about the Sucre in the USA.
On June 25, 2010, Charo, a Latina singer, guitarist, and comedian, volunteered with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to protest against bullfighting as an inhumane sport. Charo addressed a rally in Los Angeles, urging tourists not to attend a bullfighting festival, Gran Corrida, in Mexico. Charo was born in Murcia, Spain, and studied classical Flamenco and guitar. Charo’s full name is María del Rosario Mercedes Laura Jennifer Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, in case you were wondering.
El 25 de junio de 2010, Charo, una cantante latina, guitarrista y comediante, se ofreció a PETA (Personas por el Trato Ético de los Animales) para protestar contra las corridas de toros como un deporte inhumano. Charo dirigió a una concentración en Los Angeles, instando a los turistas a no asistir a un festival taurino, Gran Corrida, en México. Charo nació en Murcia, España, y estudió guitarra clásica y flamenca. Nombre completo de Charo es María del Rosario Mercedes Laura Jennifer Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, en caso de que se preguntan.
On April 29, 2010, Puerto Rican pop superstar Marc Anthony received Billboard’s Spirit of Hope Award, and the iconic Mexican group Los Temerarios earned Billboard’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. Anthony was awarded the Spirit of Hope Award for his philanthropic efforts, including his work for the Children’s Health Fund, Make-a-Wish Foundation and ING’s Run for Something Better school-based fitness program. Los Temerarios were recognized for their 30-year cross-cultural career and for expanding the appreciation of Latin music. Los Temerarios has earned 39 titles on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, more than any other act in the chart’s history.
On April 12, 2010, Alejandra Castillo was appointed by the Obama Administration as National Deputy Director of the US Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA serves minority entrepreneurs across America who are building and growing businesses. Castillo writes, “My advice to young Hispanics just starting out would be to pursue your dreams, follow your passion and strive to be the best in every aspect of your professional pursuit. It is critical that as Latino/Hispanics we place education at the core of one’s foundation for growth and advancement. … I live through my Abuela’s refranes, especially “haz bien y no mires a quien. (Do good onto others without regard to who they are.)”
José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano, the President of Uruguay, was inaugurated on March 1, 2010. The politician and former Tupamaro guerilla fighter spent 14 years in a military prison and was wounded by police (unlike North American politicians, who usually are imprisoned after their careers in politics). A 2009 article by The Economist characterized him as “a roly-poly former guerrilla who grows flowers on a small farm and swears by vegetarianism.” Mujica donates 87% of his state salary to charitable causes, and he and his wife, also a former guerilla, drive an old Volkswagon Beetle. Uruguay is a small country on South America’s southeastern coast, with a population of 3.5 million. Uruguay is considered one of the most economically developed countries in South America.
Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras, was inaugurated on January 27, 2010. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Miami and was granted a doctorate by Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. Lobo’s administration has received mixed reviews, with criticism from Human Rights watch for political oppression and praise from the Obama administration for his work to reconcile the nation, his appointment of a human rights adviser and his inclusion of political opponents in his administration.
The renowned keeper of our spoken stories, StoryCorps, launched “Historias” on September 24, 2009. Historias is a new program to preserve the experiences of Latinos in the US and Puerto Rico. The program, which already exists in English, records informal conversations between family members or close friends who share their life experiences and stories with each other. StoryCorps is a partner with National Public Radio. Please visit Historias for more wonderful cuentos.
Juanita’s Foods, a leading producer of prepared and homemade style Mexican cuisine, opened its Back to School promotional sweepstakes on August 31, 2009. The program helped parents and educators struggling to feed their students during The Great Recession, with 50 prizes of $1,000 nationwide. “One of the primary reasons for the growth of the US Hispanic market is that parents want their children to have the best education possible. Juanita’s understands this and is eager to lend a helping hand during these difficult economic times.” said Mark De La Torre, Juanita’s Foods Co-CEO. The family owned business was founded in 1946. Please visit them at online at Juanita’s Foods.
On August 8, 2009, the first Latina Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Sonya Sotomayor, was sworn in to office. Chief Justice John G. Roberts administered the Constitutional Oath. Sotomayor’s mother attended and held the family Bible for the ceremony. (Image by UPI/ Steve Petteway)
CNN reported that a family in Azle, Texas, posted a sign outside their home that many residents preferred that they hadn’t, reading “Hispanics Keep Out”. While there were no documented reports of documented or undocumented Hispanics attempting to enter their home, the family felt compelled to display the racist message as a preemptive strike. Many of their neighboring Texans were distressed by the sign, and called for tolerance. (CNN: WFAA reports.)
In the cool hours of the dark desert night on May 30, 2009, three Arizonans in the self-proclaimed Minutemen American Defense broke into the home of the Flores family. In cold blood, they shot and killed 29-year-old Raul “Junior” Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. They tried to murder the child’s mother and Raul’s wife, but she managed to dial 911. The Minutemen, one of whom was a woman, were captured and convicted of first degree murder. A press release from the community organization, Presente, noted, “Though we received a verdict that condemned these atrocious murders, we also recognize that the Brisenia Flores’ case is not the isolated incident that some media reports make it out to be. Rather, it has galvanized the attention of the entire Latino community across the country as it reflects the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hatred organized by extremist groups.” Brisenia, we will not forget you.
On May 26, 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama as a Supreme Court Justice. Sotomayor was the first Latina woman to receive this nomination and appointment. Sotomayor was raised in a housing project in the Bronx, New York, with a mother determined to educate her children. Sotomayor recalled that, “…we were the only kids I knew in the housing projects to have an Encyclopedia Britannica.” Sotomayor earned a BA at Princeton University and her law degree from Yale Law School. She was the first Latina and the third woman on the Supreme Court.
The Mobile Giving channel, which enabled viewers to use their mobile phones to make donations, was launched during a telethon in the US for the first time on December 5, 2008. The telethon was broadcast on Galavision, a leading Spanish language cable network that reached over 8 million Latino households. Fundacion Teleton MexAmerica initiated the telethon, which raised money for the establishment of rehabilitation centers for children with disabilities. Viewers of the Telethon were asked to send a text message with the keyword TELETON to 90999 to give $5. Tony Aiello, one of the organizers, stated that, “We are extremely excited about the results of the Telethon. It provides a blueprint for promoting mobile giving during televised events, furthermore, it clarifies that Mobile Donations drive incremental donations and new donors …”
What could be more democratic and more American than electing and selecting your very own sports reruns on a major network? To celebrate its fifth anniversary, ESPN Deportes launched ESPN Deportes Replay, a multimedia campaign that gave its fans the opportunity to program the network for three consecutive weeks. Voters selected candidates from the most memorable sporting events and athlete profiles that were aired on the network over its first five years of broadcasting. Voting began on December 3, 2008, and the successful candidates were aired later that year.
On November 21, 2008, BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Worldwide Channels announced the launch of CBeebies, its first wholly-owned, Spanish-language channel in the US. This British invasion is dedicated to preschoolers. Darren Childs, BBC’s Managing Director, stated, “The introduction of a Spanish version of CBeebies into the U.S. Hispanic market is a momentous achievement for BBC Worldwide Channels in this hugely competitive territory. As well as complementing BBC America, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, it means that we’re able to reach out to millions of Americans for whom Spanish is their first language.” Will a generation of Latinx children in the US start speaking English with a British accent? Stay tuned!
For the first time in its history, the Latin Grammy Awards were held in Houston, Texas. Houston is not known for being a mecca of Latin music, but one of the show’s organizers, Gabriel Abaroa, noted that “We decided to take the show where our people are.” Abaroa has a refreshingly broad view of “our people”, whom he further defined as “Who are our people? Anyone who likes to listen to bossa nova or who likes to dance salsa. You do not need to know the language to feel the music.” The 2008 Latin Grammys were as beautiful as ever, and all applauded as Latina singer Gloria Estefan received the award for Person of the Year.
On August 15, 2008, Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez was inaugurated as President of the nation of Paraguay. Lugo was a Catholic bishop, and resigned from the Church to pursue politics. His election marked the end of six decades of right wing rule by the military dictatorship, and was bitterly opposed by the regime. Lugo campaigned by walking barefoot in poor sectors of the country; his key slogan was “Lugo has a heart”. His term in office has been marred by paternity scandals. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Méndez stated that, “At the end of my five-year term, I want Paraguay to have changed its international image, to be seen as a serious country where laws and the constitution are obeyed and contracts respected. We want a fairer society, not one where a tiny group creams off the profits.” (Ahem, unlike the 1% concentration of wealth in the USA.)
On June 11, 2008, the legendary baseball player David Americo Ortiz took the US Oath of Citizenship. Ortiz was born in the Dominican Republic. Ortiz is considered one of the top clutch hitters in major league history. In 2005, he helped lead the Boston Red Sox to its first World Series victory in 86 years. Off the field, Ortiz worked with State Farm Insurance to assist legally documented Latinos to become US citizens. (Image from ESPN)
El 11 de junio de 2008, el legendario jugador de béisbol David Américo Ortiz tomó el juramento de ciudadanía de EE.UU.. Ortiz nació en la República Dominicana. Ortiz es considerado uno de los bateadores más importantes de embrague historia de las mayores. En 2005, ayudó a los Medias Rojas de Boston a su primera victoria en la Serie Mundial en 86 años. Fuera del campo, Ortiz trabajó con State Farm Insurance para ayudar a los latinos legalmente documentados para convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses. (Imagen de ESPN)
The story of life-long love was retold on the silver screen, as “Love in the Time of Cholera” was released on November 16, 2007. The Hollywood film is based on the story by Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, about childhood sweethearts who are forcibly separated by the girl’s parents. Despite 50 years of separation and her marriage to another man, the young boy, now an old man, immediately returns to court his love when she is widowed. The movie was shot in the beautiful historic city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The film stars Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt and Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and was produced by Scott Steindorff. Colombian musician and singer Shakira wrote two songs for the film.
“…Nothing less than a miracle … the future of music for the whole world.” These heady words of praise from the leader of the Berlin Philharmonic appeared in the London Observer Magazine on July 29, 2007. The praise was for “El Sistema”, the program illuminating the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. The orchestra’s conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, who achieved this honor at age 18, was educated through El Sistema. The El Sistema program provides free, early access to music education to all Venezuelan children, particularly those from poor families, empowering them to learn in an environment with their peers. The exuberant Dudamel began his love affair with music at the age of 4, and was playing violin at age 10. His talent was recognized and nurtured through El Sistema. Currently, Dudamel enraptures audiences as principal conductor at Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in California.
As the County meeting rooms overflowed with worried residents in the hot, angry Virginia night, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed its controversial anti-immigration ordinance. The legislation targeted undocumented immigrants by prohibiting their access to public services and increasing immigration enforcement by local police. The resolution was fiercely contested in a lengthy public battle, which was studied in the documentary 9500 Liberty (www.9500Liberty.com). As quoted in the Washington Post, residents were deeply concerned about the law: “How are we supposed to survive here?” asked Gregorio Calderón, a legal US resident from El Salvador. “They’re going to pull me over just for being Hispanic.” (Image by WashingtonPost.com)
On January 10, 2007, Jose Daniel Ortega Saavedra was inaugurated as President of Nicaragua for the second time. Saavedra was a pivotal leader in the Cold War politics of Central America in the 1980s; viewed as a freedom fighter by the left and as an untrustworthy communist by the right. Upon taking office in 2007, he began to tighten Nicaragua’s relationship with the socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela. Saavedra was first arrested at the age of 15, beginning his turbulent commitment to leftist politics in Nicaragua. Saavedra is still causing controversy in the world theater; during the 2011 Libyan Revolution, Saavedra was one of the very few world leaders to side with the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Two of South America’s greatest talents, singer Shakira and writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014), launched the foundation for Latin America in Solidarity Action on December 12, 2006. The foundation’s mission is to nurture at-risk children from pregnancy through age 6. One of the foundation’s programs provides health and nutritional assistance to pregnant women and children under age 2. A second program enrolls exploited and homeless children in school. A number of other luminous Latinx stars supported the cause; including Ruben Blades, Juanes, Ricky Martin, Mana, and Alejandro Sanz. Please visit http://www.alasthemovement.org.
Apparently, with the idea that good fences make good neighbors, US President George W. Bush signed The Secure Fence Act of 2006 into law on October 26, 2006. Bush stated “This bill will help protect the American people. This bill will make our borders more secure. It is an important step toward immigration reform.” The focus of the bill was to authorize construction of 700 miles of physical barriers along the Mexico-United States border and to pay for more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, lighting and advanced technology such as cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the points of view on the bill varied widely. Proponents of the bill think that it will protect Americans from terrorists and drug traffickers. Opponents pointed out that the fence could be easily scaled or tunneled in many parts, and that Americans really don’t need protection from hard working men and women desperate to work for $7.15 an hour mowing lawns and cleaning toilets to support their impoverished families.
“Musicals are my greatest love, without question,” choreographer and director Kenny Ortega declared in an interview with a leading Australian magazine in September 2006. His earliest memories are of his parents’ laughter as they danced in their family living room. Ortega’s parents were Spanish and Cuban; he was born in Palo Alto, California. In his decades long career, Ortega has shared his love with audiences across stage, television, movies, and spectacles such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. He is the choreographic genius behind the wildly successful all-American Hollywood hits “Dirty Dancing” and “High School Musical”. Ortega has earned numerous awards, including an Emmy, ALMA Award, and Director’s Guild of America Award. (Image by Mark Mainz/ Getty Images for NCLR)
Yes, they are still here. On September 2, 2006, members of the World Order of the Ku Klux Klan rallied at the Battle of Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of a decisive Civil War battle. (Apparently, the Klan has not quite gotten over the official abolition of slavery in the US.) While continuing to harass African-Americans, these hate groups are expanding their targets to include Latinx Americans. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)
The Marines are looking for a few good men – and also found a few good women. On August 2, 2006, Major General Angelina Salinas was the first Latina to earn the appointment of a general officer in the US Marine Corps. Two days later Salinas assumed her command at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and also as the first woman to ever command a recruit depot.
On May 6, 2006, Hispanic American Jimmy Smits won the ALMA (American Latino Media Arts) Award for outstanding actor in the television series, “The West Wing”. ALMA honors programming that shows positive images of Latinos in the arts. In “The West Wing”, Smits played the role of Congressman Mike Santos, who ran for President in the series. In the 1980s, Smits was one of the first actors playing a positive image of a Hispanic character on a prime time television network. Smits portrayed committed, principled Victor Sifuentes in the Emmy-winning NBC drama LA Law. Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.
On March 11, 2006, Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria was inaugurated as the first woman President of Chile. She was elected as President as a Social Democrat by 53.5% of the vote, with a platform that included increased social benefits and reducing the gap between rich and poor. Bachelet worked as a pediatrician and epidemiologist, and is a separated mother of three children. Her father was in the military, and served under democratically elected President Salvador Allende. After the CIA-backed military coup, her father was arrested and tortured to death (another example of North American “meddling” in a foreign country’s elections). Bachelet and her mother were also arrested and tortured. They were forced into exile in Australia and later moved to East Germany. Bachelet, confirming that you can’t keep a good woman down, began her medical studies there. Bachelet served as the head of UN Women, a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women and girls.
On January 22, 2006 Evo Morales was inaugurated as President of Bolivia. Morales is of Spanish and Aymara descent; Aymara is one of the First Nations. He is committed to reducing poverty and illiteracy in Bolivia, and his policies are characterized as leftist and socialist. He has implemented land reform and the redistribution of gas revenues. In 2008, Morales ordered the US Ambassador out of the country, accusing the ambassador of conspiring against democracy. Relations have improved during the Obama Administration, but we can only guess as to what’s next.
The American Music Award honored Colombian born musician and singer Shakira as America’s favorite Latina artist on November 22, 2005. Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll’s father was a Lebanese immigrant to Colombia, and her dual Latino and Middle Eastern heritage has greatly influenced her work. “Shakira” translates as “woman full of grace” in Arabic, and her complex, beautiful music reflects this aspiration. Shakira’s crossover album into the US market was “Laundry Service” (2001), which earned the number three spot on Billboard’s album sales ranking. Shakira continues to win awards for her music, including three Latin Grammys.
June 1, 2005 is the release date of the popular film, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, starring Latina actress America Ferrera. Ferrera plays Carmen Lowell, who spends her summer coming to terms with the new, very norteamericano family into which her father is marrying.
01 de junio 2005 es la fecha de lanzamiento de la popular película, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, protagonizada por la actriz latina America Ferrera. Ferrera interpreta a Carmen Lowell, quien pasa su verano llegando a un acuerdo con la nueva familia, muy norteamericano que su padre se casa en.
On May 17, 2005, Antonio Villaraigosa was elected as the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles, California, in over 100 years. His Mexican immigrant father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family, and Villaraigosa had a troubled adolescence. He was expelled from high school for fighting, and later was charged with assault against a man who had used racial slurs about his mother. He completed high school at night classes. He then graduated from UCLA and next earned a degree from People’s College of Law. In an interview with US News, Villaraigosa stated, “I’m a guy who has fallen down my whole life, but I’ve gotten up and wiped the blood off my knees every time.”
“Selena Vive!” aired live on April 7, 2005, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Jennifer Lopez starred as Selena. According to Nielsen ratings, the show earned a 35.9 Hispanic Television index rating, which translates into 3.9 million viewing households. It was the highest rating ever for a Spanish-language TV special. “The Selena legacy continues unabated,” stated Jorge Pino, president/ chairman of EMI Music US Latin. “And what we were able to see in the concert is that her fan base is made up of older and younger people.”
Hispanic Business Magazine, a leading English language publication, announced on April 4, 2005, that attorney Brigida Benitez won their 2005 Woman of the Year (WOY) Award. Benitez was one of the principal attorneys for the University of Michigan in the affirmative action cases that were heard by the Supreme Court in 2003. These affirmative action cases were in courts for six years. Benitez worked on the project from the first filing in Michigan to the final oral arguments before the Supreme Court, winning a landmark case for diversity in the US. Benitez now serves as Chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank.
On February 22, 2005, California State Senator Joe Dunn introduced the “Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program” (SB 670) in the California State Legislature. The bill’s purpose was to “express the apology of the State of California to those individuals who were illegally deported and coerced into emigrating to Mexico and would require that a plaque to commemorate those individuals be installed and maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation in an appropriate public place in Los Angeles.” The Repatriation Act forcibly deported Mexican-Americans during the 1930s, including US citizens who were born in the US and had never traveled to Mexico. The Program was enacted between 1929 and 1939, when as many as 500,000 people of Mexican descent were forced or intimidated into leaving the US.
El 22 de febrero de 2005, del Estado de California el senador Joe Dunn introdujo la “Ley de Apología de la década de 1930 Programa de Repatriación Mexicana” (P. del S. 670) en la Legislatura del Estado de California. El propósito del proyecto de ley era “expresar la disculpa del Estado de California para las personas que fueron ilegalmente expulsados y obligados a emigrar a México y sería necesario que una placa para conmemorar a las personas ser instalado y mantenido por el Departamento de Parques y Recreación de una lugar apropiado público en Los Angeles. “La Ley de Repatriación deportados por la fuerza los mexicano-americanos durante la década de 1930, incluyendo a ciudadanos estadounidenses que nacieron en los EE.UU. y que nunca había viajado a México. El Programa fue promulgada entre 1929 y 1939, cuando tanto como 500.000 personas de origen mexicano fueron forzados o intimidados para salir de los EE.UU.
In 2004, New York Governor George Pataki declared February as Dominican Heritage Month in the state of New York. Dominicans celebrate their independence on February 27. Activities include culture, music, and art shows, essay contests, sport presentations, and lots of really great food. This Heritage Month continues to be celebrated annually. If you’re ever in the Dominican Republic of The Bronx in February, please drop by and join the fiesta. The Dominican Heritage Month Flag is pictured.
En 2004, el gobernador de Nueva York George Pataki declarado de febrero como Mes de la Herencia Dominicana en el estado de Nueva York. Dominicanos celebran su independencia el 27 de febrero. Las actividades incluyen la cultura, la música y exposiciones de arte, concursos de ensayos, presentaciones deportivas, y un montón de comida realmente genial. El Mes de la Herencia sigue celebrando anualmente. Si alguna vez en la República Dominicana de El Bronx, en febrero, por favor pasar por allá y unirse a la fiesta.
On February 8, 2004, Christina María Aguilera won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her song, “Beautiful”. In addition to her stellar contributions as a performer, Aguilera is active in humanitarian and social causes. In late 2007 Aguilera became a spokesperson for “Rock the Vote” to encourage young people to vote in the 2008 election. Christina’s father is an immigrant from Ecuador.
El 8 de febrero de 2004, Christina María Aguilera ganó el premio Grammy a la Mejor Interpretación Vocal Pop Femenina por su canción “Beautiful”. Además de sus contribuciones estelares como artista, Aguilera está activo en causas humanitarias y sociales. A finales de 2007 Aguilera se convirtió en un portavoz de “Rock the Vote” para animar a los jóvenes a votar en las elecciones de 2008. Christina padre es un inmigrante de Ecuador.
Latinos protested discrimination in New York City’s bureaucracy on July 23, 2003. The demonstrators marched to support Intro 38, the Equal Access to Health and Human Services Act, which would provide language access to city services for people with limited English proficiency. The proposal was signed into law by New York City Mayor Bloomberg in December of that year, with a five-year phase-in for full compliance. (Photo by Mario Tama/ Getty Images.)
With the resounding crack of a bat, Major League Baseball star Miguel Cabrera made his debut in the majors on June 20, 2003. The 20-year old hit a game-winning home run for the Florida Marlins that day. His talent was evident at an early age; his mother noted in an interview, “It was like he was born with a glove on his hand.” Venezuelan-born Cabrera now plays third base for the Detroit Tigers and is considered to be one of baseball’s best hitters. (Photo by Barbara Moore)
Con el chasquido rotundo de un bate, la Major League Baseball estrella Miguel Cabrera hizo su debut en Grandes Ligas el 20 de junio de 2003. La edad de 20 años conectó un cuadrangular para ganar el partido para ejecutar los Marlins de la Florida ese día. Su talento era evidente desde temprana edad, su madre señaló en una entrevista: “Fue como si hubiera nacido con un guante en su mano.” Nacido en Venezuela, Cabrera ahora juega la tercera base de los Tigres de Detroit y está considerado como uno de mejores bateadores del béisbol. (Foto de Barbara Moore)
On May 15, 2003, Arturo “Arte” Moreno became the first Latinx to own a Major League Baseball team, the Anaheim Angels. Moreno is a fourth generation Mexican American born in Tucson, Arizona. He and his ten brothers and sisters were raised in a two-bedroom, one bathroom home. Moreno made his wealth the old fashioned way — he earned it. He entered a partnership for an outdoor billboard company, building revenues from $500,000 to $90 MM. He and his original partner later sold the business for $8 billion. He expressed his team ownership philosophy in an interview with USA Today, “The fans own the team. I’m the economic caretaker.” (Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)
The Hollywood film, “A Beautiful Mind”, was awarded Best Picture at the 2002 Academy Awards. The film portrayed the heart breaking struggles of Noble Prize winning physicist John Nash, and his wife, Alicia, with John’s dangerous paranoid delusions and mental illness. Alicia Larde is a native of El Salvador, and graduated with a degree in physics from MIT, where she met her husband. Alicia’s role was played by beautiful, blue-eyed, all-American actress Jennifer Connelly. We love Jennifer, but think it would have been more appropriate if she had at least pretended to be Latina for this role.
January 23, 2002 was the premier of the new series, “American Family: Journey of Dreams”, created and produced by Gregory Nava (please see reference on January 11 – Nava is a busy guy). American Family was the first family drama series featuring a Hispanic cast to air on broadcast television. PBS (Public Broadcasting System) later picked up the series, which starred Edward James Olmos, Raquel Welch, Sonia Braga, and Esai Morales.
January 14, 2002 marked the launch of TeleFutura, a Spanish-language broadcast network, by Univisión. Telefutura became America’s second largest Spanish-language prime time network. TeleFutura’s programming includes Noticias 41 Al Despertar, its news and public affairs program, talk shows, children’s programming and of course, telenovellas, or soap operas, which demonstrate the same amount of intelligence and good sense as their US-based English language counterparts. The company was relaunched as UniMás in 2013.
In solidarity and compassion, New York City Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg traveled to the Dominican Republic, to meet with grieving families who lost relatives when an American Airlines flight crashed in New York earlier that month. About 70% of the 260 passengers who died were Dominican. Bloomberg arrived in his private jet, and received a welcome motorcade from the airport. Bloomberg also met with President Hipólito Mejía, and he agreed to aid the Dominican families. The two government officials also discussed the issues and problems for Dominicans living in New York City. Bloomberg commented on the situation for the undocumented immigrants: ”I think, as a compassionate society, we have to find some ways that these people can get some finality. But the federal government has to be in charge of that, our immigration policy and its borders. I certainly would urge them to understand the pain and suffering and love.”
Latinos shared our nation’s tragedy as 258 Hispanic Americans were killed in New York on September 11, 2001, when two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center. Among the 177 men and 81 women were 21-year old Marlyn C. Garcia, a college student who aspired to work at the United Nations, and 28 year old Mario L. Santoro, an emergency medical technician, volunteer basketball coach and new father. (Photo by Voxxi/Griselda Nevarez)
The TV film, “For Love or Country”, premiered on October 18, 2000. Real-life musician Arturo Sandoval was the hero of the film, with his role played by handsome actor Andy Garcia. Sandoval was born in Cuba, and was a huge fan of North American jazz musicians, particularly Dizzy Gillespie. Sandoval formed his own band and toured and recorded, but felt restricted by the Cuban government. In Havana, Sandoval met and befriended (BFF) Gillespie, and the two became musical collaborators. While touring in Europe with Gillespie in 1990, Sandoval defected to a US embassy. In an interview, he said, “I’m so glad to be in the United States. When I come home from a tour, I kiss the ground here as soon as I get off the plane. . . We have all the freedom in the world to do what we want to do.” The Grammy award winning Sandoval has released more than 20 albums.
On August 14, 2000, one of our most famous and talented 21st century Latinx emerged onto the public stage: Dora the Explorer! Dora Marquez became a regular series that year on the Nickelodeon cable channel. Dora is the inspiration of Valerie Walsh Valdes, Chris Gifford and Eric Weiner. Dora is eight years old, and embarks on weekly adventures to discover new places and to assist people. She teaches her English language viewers words and phrases in Spanish along the way. Reportedly, Dora’s birth certificate and other official documents are in order, and to date, no challenges from the Trump Administration for deportation. The Dora Story was retold as a live action film in 2019.
May 29, 1999 was a momentous day for the space shuttle Discovery, when it docked with the International Space Station for the first time. Latina Ellen Ochoa was on board and working during the event as mission specialist and engineer. Her responsibilities included coordinating the transfer of nearly two tons of supplies from one vessel to the other, to prepare for the first crew to live on board the space station in 2000. Ochoa assisted two of her fellow astronauts during their lengthy spacewalk, operating the remote robotic arm.
On February 2, 1999, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was inaugurated as President of Venezuela. Chávez is the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and he has implemented socialist reforms. He continually annoys the US establishment by directing Citgo Petroleum Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), to donate free heating oil to US-based Citizens Energy. Citizens Energy was founded by Joseph Patrick Kennedy II. The organization provides tens of millions of gallons of heating oil annually to an estimated 200,000 low-income US families a year in twenty-three states. Please check Citizens Energy if you don’t believe me.
El 2 de febrero de 1999, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías asumió la presidencia de Venezuela. Chávez es el líder del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, y ha llevado a cabo reformas socialistas. Él continuamente molesta el establishment de EE.UU. dirigiendo Citgo Petroleum Company, una subsidiaria de propiedad total de Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), para donar combustible para calefacción gratis a la estadounidense Citizens Energy. Citizens Energy fue fundada por Joseph Patrick Kennedy II. La organización proporciona decenas de millones de galones de combustible para calefacción anualmente a unas 200.000 familias de bajos ingresos de Estados Unidos al año en veintitrés estados. Por favor, compruebe Citizens Energy si no nos creen.
On January 25, 1999, Hispanic Magazine and Nordstrom Inc. announced that Dr. Ed Avila won the 1999 Teacher of the Year Award. Avila directed the Endeavour Academy, an engineering and applied science preparatory school, where he developed the curriculum and teaches classes. He contributed to the development of the Youth Aerospace Discovery Program, a weekly one-day seminar for students ages 8 to 15. Avila earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the US Air Force Academy, and two Masters degrees and a Ph D in engineering and aeronautics. (Photo by HispanicBusiness.com)
On January 5, 1999, the Clinton administration (Bill, not Hil) approved direct charter flights from New York and Los Angeles to Cuba. Secretary of State Madeline Albright made the announcement, which was heralded as the most significant change in policy toward Cuba in decades. Travel was restricted to humanitarian-aid workers, athletes, scholars, teachers, and researchers, but no tourists were permitted. An estimated 140,000 US citizens were able to visit Cuba in 1999.
The Nobel Academy in Sweden announced that Mexican writer, poet, diplomat and humanist Octavio Paz won the Nobel Prize for Literature on October 11, 1990. Paz was born in Mexico City, and followed in his family’s tradition of activist political journalism. He also served his country as diplomat, but resigned in protest over the Mexican government’s bloody suppression of student unrest. In his acceptance speech delivered later that year, Paz stated that, “The first basic difference between Latin-American and Anglo-American literature lies in the diversity of their origins. Both begin as projections of Europe. The projection of an island in the case of North America; that of a peninsula in our case. Two regions that are geographically, historically and culturally eccentric. The origins of North America are in England and the Reformation; ours are in Spain, Portugal and the Counter-Reformation. For the case of Spanish America I should briefly mention what distinguishes Spain from other European countries, giving it a particularly original historical identity. Spain is no less eccentric than England but its eccentricity is of a different kind. The eccentricity of the English is insular and is characterized by isolation: an eccentricity that excludes. Hispanic eccentricity is peninsular and consists of the coexistence of different civilizations and different pasts: an inclusive eccentricity. In what would later be Catholic Spain, the Visigoths professed the heresy of Arianism, and we could also speak about the centuries of domination by Arabic civilization, the influence of Jewish thought, the Reconquest, and other characteristic features.”
August 10, 1998 marked the inaugural opening of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. The mission of the center is to disseminate and advance understanding and knowledge of the contributions of Latinas and Latinos to the culture, society, history, arts, and sciences of the US. The Center’s web site features a Virtual Museum, online collections, history resources, and more. Please visit Latino.SI.edu
On April 26, 1998, Monsignor Juan José Gerardi Conedera was beaten to death, two days after releasing a four-volume report on atrocities by the Guatemalan military during the decades of the Guatemalan Civil War (1960 to 1996). Conedera was a Guatemalan Roman Catholic bishop and human rights defender, who was viewed as a moderate reformer. A United Nations-backed peace accord formally ended the 30-year conflict in 1996. Over 200,000 civilians had died, more than 90% of them killed and often tortured by the army. Retired Guatemala Colonel Byron Disrael Lima Estrada, who attended the US School of the Americas in the 1960s, was arrested for involvement in the crime.
Pedro Martinez signed a $75 million, six-year contract with the Red Sox on December 12, 1997, making Martinez the highest paid player in baseball at that time. Martinez’ life story is woven from the American Dream. He grew up in a poor rural village in the Dominican Republic, and was a sensitive child who studiously did his homework while sitting in a mango tree. When he began formal practice, the Dodgers’ pitching coach worried about his 137 pound frame, but felt that Martinez had a big heart. In 1991 Sporting News named him the Minor League Player of the Year and Martinez made his major league debut in 1992. After signing the multi-million dollar contract, the big hearted Martinez financed the building of a church, an elementary school, a playground, and three houses for homeless families in his childhood town. (Image from Sports Illustrated Magazine)
On August 11, 1997, Publisher’s Weekly announced that Josefina Montoya, the latest American Girl in the Pleasant Company collection of historical dolls, would debut in September. Maria Josefina Montoya is a nine-year old Latina living in northern New Mexico in 1824. Josefina and her three sisters live on a rancho near Santa Fe, and are adjusting to life after the death of their mother. Author Valerie Tripp wrote the accompanying books, and extensively researched the history of New Mexico during that time period. To learn more about Josefina, please visit her on 21st century YouTube.
After thirty-six long years of brutal and bloody civil war, the nation of Guatemala was finally able to declare peace on December 29, 1996. The civil war was part of a larger global power struggle for resources and for political influence, and the US-based United Fruit Company and the CIA supported different factions throughout the decades of conflict. Over 200,000 people in this small nation died during the conflict, and tens of thousands disappeared into the cold anonymity of mass graves. The peace accord was negotiated with the support of the United Nations and foreign governments such as Spain, Norway, and Costa Rica. (Image by NBCNews.com)
The day of the Mac attack! On September 7, 1996, Los Del Rio’s hit song ”Macarena” climbed into the top 100 of The Billboard 200. Antonio Romero and Raphael Ruiz, the two Spaniards in the Del Rio group, were pleasantly surprised by their song’s success. It quickly became a cultural fixture, played at weddings, family reunions and bar mitzvahs – former Vice President Al Gore even danced to it at the Democratic Convention. “‘Macarena’ is a revelation of happiness, and that happiness is captured in the rhythm of the song,” said Romero. “It puts the world in agreement to dance and celebrate.”
The Puerto Rican Senate declared November 9, 1995 as “El Dia de Olga Tañón” (Olga Tañón Day) in honor of the Grammy Award winning singer. Tañón was born in Santruce, Puerto Rico, and began her singing career performing with merengue groups. (Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic, and is characterized by a fast 2/4 beat. Please, not to be confused with the Macarena.) Tañón’s husky alto voice has dazzled fans throughout the Americas and in Europe. Tañón is also renowned for her charitable work. In 1998, after the destruction in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Georges, Tañón and her husband rented a truck, filled it with essential supplies, and personally delivered food, clothing, and medicine to people in need.
Happy Birthday to writer Luis Alberto Urrea, born on August 20, 1955 in Tijuana, Mexico. His father was Mexican and his mother was New Yorker; Urrea was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego from the age of 3. He earned his BA at the University of California at San Diego, and his MA at the University of Colorado. Urrea is best known for his “border” trilogy, comprising the nonfiction works “Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border” (1993), “By the Lake of Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border” (1996), and “Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life” (1998). Urrea was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. In an interview with Writer Magazine, Urrea described his work as, “I am interested in the complexities of the human soul and the sacredness that hides in every day. I would characterize my writing as a form of witness and personal devotion, in that it is my spiritual practice as well as my art and career.”
“My Family”, the award winning film about three generations of Mexican Americans, was released on May 3, 1995. The film was directed by Gregory Nava, and featured Latino stars Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Lopez, and Esai Morales, among other talents. The emotionally complex drama begins with the life of the eldest brother, who was born in California before the US stole the golden land from Mexico, and chronicles the family’s lives in Mexico and East Los Angeles.
Former US President George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, declared April 16, 1995, as “Selena Day”, two weeks after the death of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Selena born in on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Her father recognized her talent at age 6. She won her first Grammy in 1993 for Best Mexican American Performance for her album “Selena Live”. In addition to her fabulous voice and charismatic stage presence, Selena was an activist in anti-drug and AIDS Awareness causes. Her death was mourned throughout North America.
President Ernesto Zedillo was inaugurated as President of Mexico on December 1, 1994, with an election that was marked by fairness and high voter turnout. Zedillo was raised in a lower middle class family, and received a scholarship to Yale University in the US. He studied economics, and returned to Mexico to continue his public service career at the Central Bank of Mexico. Zedillo achieved a number of political appointments through Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He became the Presidential nominee after the assassination of a fellow candidate. Once viewed as an unassuming technocrat, Zedillo is credited with steadying his nation through a period of economic and political turbulence. After his term in office, he became Director of the Center for the Study of Globalization at Yale University.
By a close vote of 234 to 200, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to establish the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on November 17, 1993. The goal of NAFTA, according to its advocates, was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment among the US, Canada and Mexico. Its critics contend that NAFTA undermined domestic industries and labor. The citizen soldiers of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) were particularly incensed by the removal of Article 27 from the Mexican constitution, which protected Indian communal landholdings from sale or privatization. Under NAFTA this guarantee was defined as a barrier to investment. EZLN declared its war on the Mexican government the day that NAFTA was implemented. US President Bill Clinton, who finally signed agreement into law, stated that, “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement.” As of 2020, the current President has renegotiated the Agreement; current information is available from the Office of the US Trade Representative.
The film, “The House of the Spirits”, based on the classic novel of the same name by Chilean writer Isabel Allende, premiered in Germany on October 17, 1993. The film is the story of a complex Chilean family during the rise of the military dictatorship in Chile. English actor Jeremy Irons stars as the family patriarch, with American actresses Meryl Streep as his wife with psychic powers and Winona Rider as their rebellious politico daughter. Among the talented leading cast, Antonio Banderas was apparently the only actor available for casting as a Latinx.
On July 23, 1993, scientist Angeles de Leira Alvarino was awarded the Great Silver Medal of Galici a by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia of Spain. Alvarino, who was born in Spain, specialized in fishery research biologist and marine science. In her decades long career, she made tremendous contributions to knowledge about marine zooplankton, and discovered 22 new ocean species in the course of her work. She participated in numerous expeditions aboard research vessels of several countries, and was the first woman to serve as a scientist aboard a British research vessel. After receiving a Fulbright award to study in the US, she began work as a fisheries biologist in 1970 with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla, California.
On May 23, 1993, 18-year-old Dayanara Torres from Puerto Rico was crowned as the 42nd Miss Universe. Torres then launched her career as a singer, actress, writer, and model, and has appeared in several US television series and movies in the Philippines. Torres authored the self-help book, “Married to Me” after her divorce from Latino singer Mark Anthony (pre-J-Lo). She actively assists the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Covenant House CA, and Ronald McDonald Charities.
From the dark silence of the dusty pages of hidden archives, the voices of the tortured dead began to speak once more. While looking for documents on the fate of an individual prisoner, lawyer and human-rights activist Dr. Martín Almada and Judge José Agustín Fernández uncovered the files that became known as the “Archives of Terror” on December 22, 1992. These archives detailed the campaign by military dictatorships in South America against their perceived enemies, who included labor organizers and critical journalists. Known as Operation Condor, these right wing governments murdered an estimated 60,000 people and imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands more in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. The US Government supplied technical support to the program for a number of years during the Cold War. (Image of Dr. Martín Almada)
The Academy Award winning documentary, “The Panama Deception”, was released on July 31, 1992. The 1989 invasion of Panama by the US was termed “Operation Just Cause” by the Bush Administration; according to the documentary’s director, Barbara Trent, the invasion was far from a just cause. Trent alleged that US troops killed up to 4,000 Panamanian men and buried them secretly in mass graves while reporting that only 250 civilians died. The documentary further implies that the invasion was really launched so that the US could renege on its treaty that handed control over the Panama Canal back to the Panamanian government. The film also suggests that the US military used the invasion to test new secret weaponry to prepare for the Gulf War.
Happy Birthday to Selena Gomez, an all American singer and actress, born in Grand Prairie, Texas, on July 22, 1992. Gomez’s father is a New Mexico native of Mexican descent and her mother is Italian-American. Gomez was named for popular Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez. Gomez’s first big break was in the Disney TV series, “Wizards of Waverley Place.” The young singer released her first album in 2009; that year she was also named as the youngest ambassador to UNICEF and visited Ghana on her first mission. Gomez is starring in several films and television shows that debut in 2013. Stay tuned as Selena’s marvelous talent continues to grow!
March 1, 1992 is the release date of the movie, “The Mambo Kings”, based on Oscar Hijuelos’s 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The film and movie are about the lives and loves of two brothers who are refugees from Cuba. The film features Antonio Banderas, a Spanish actor, and Armand Assante, an Irish-Italian-American actor who is wonderful in his role as a Hispanic-American.
Another first for Hispanics was earned by Ed Pastor, when he became the first Latino from Arizona to be elected to US Congress. Pastor was born in a small mining town in Arizona. He earned his BA at Arizona State University and his law degree from Arizona State College of Law. After serving as a County Supervisor, he was elected to Congress and began his term on September 25, 1991. Pastor served on the Agriculture Committee and the Committee on House Oversight. For more of Congressman Pastor’s public service, please visit his page on the National Archives.
On February 20, 1991, the talented Mariah Carey won the Grammy for “Best New Artist”, the first of many national awards that she earned. Carey is of Afro-Venezuelan and Irish heritage, a multiracial heritage that was challenging for her. Today, Carey is one of the world’s most successful living singers and artists, selling over 200 million records in her decades long career. Carey has range expanded her artistic range to acting, starring in the acclaimed movie “Precious” in 2009.
El 20 de febrero de 1991, el talentoso Mariah Carey ganó el Grammy por “Mejor Artista Nuevo”, el primero de muchos premios nacionales que ganaron. Carey es de origen afro-venezolana e irlandesa, una herencia multirracial que fue un reto para ella. Hoy en día, Carey es una de las cantantes del mundo de vida más exitosas y artistas, vendiendo más de 200 millones de discos en su carrera de largas décadas. Carey ha expandido su rango de alcance artístico a la actuación, protagonizando la aclamada película “Precious” en 2009.
Happy Birthday to Stefanía Fernández Krupij, born in Venezuela on September 4, 1990. Fernández was crowned as Miss Universe in 2009. While she is 100% Venezuelan and Latina, her heritage is Ukrainian, Polish, Russian and Spanish. For her latest updates on her social programs and modeling endeavors, please visit Stefania on her site.
A very young Latinx cowboy from Penasco, New Mexico, poses for a photographer from the Office of War Information Photograph Collection in July 1940. Hispanic Americans were the first Europeans in the state of New Mexico, as the Spanish in Mexico expanded their empire northwards. The photos were taken as part of an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. For more photos, please visit our country’s original Facebook at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.
On January 17, 1990, Ellen Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) was selected by NASA for training, and she was the first Latina astronaut in space. Ochoa received a doctorate in electronic engineering from Stanford University, and after graduation, she worked in research at the Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California. Ochoa flew her first mission on the space shuttle Discovery. In 1994, she was a member of the Atlantis crew. A multi-talented woman, Ochoa is pictured here playing her flute in orbit.
January 3, 1990, the former president of Panama, Manuel Noriega surrendered to the US Army. Panama was invaded by US forces on December 20, 1989. President George H.W. Bush cited Noriega’s involvement in drug trafficking as one of the leading reasons for the invasion. This viewpoint was challenged later in the Academy Award winning documentary, “Panama Deception”.
As word of the US invasion of Panama reached international organizations, many people expressed their outrage at what they believed was deplorable US aggression. On December 29, 1989 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to condemn the US invasion. The vote was 75 to 20, with 40 nations abstaining. Resolution 44/240 stated that the General Assembly, “Strongly deplores the intervention in Panama by the armed forces of the United States of America, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of [Panama].”
In the silent hours after midnight in the dark night of the tropics, more than 27,000 undocumented US troops illegally stormed into Panama on December 20, 1989. Their target was General Manuel Noriega, a former ally of the US. Noriega was suspected of drug trafficking and had recently overturned the democratic election of the new President of Panama. The Bush administration also listed defense of the Panama Canal among the reasons for the invasion. After a few days of intense fighting, Noriega was captured. Debate still rages over the number of civilian casualties; the Pentagon estimated 516 Panamanian civilian deaths while a report by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark estimated close to 4,000 deaths. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless by the destruction and fighting. (Photo by Christopher Morris, 2nd prize, Spot News stories for World Press Photos)
In an exciting, high velocity game, the US and El Salvador vied for supremacy at the sports stadium in Saint Louis, Missouri on November 5, 1989. The teams were playing for a place in the 1990 FIFA Soccer World Cup. After a well-matched competition, the teams tied 0-0.
On August 29, 1989, the first Latina woman to serve in the US Congress began her first term. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba on July 15, 1952, and immigrated to the US with her family when she was 7. She earned a BA and MS from Florida International University, and began her career as an educator. After successfully holding several offices in Florida’s state government, she ran for Congress. Ros-Lehtinen is a staunch conservative on most issues, and an outspoken critic of Fidel Castro. However, she is one of three Republican members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, of which she is a founding member and a vice-chairperson. She returned to Congress again in 2013, re-elected by a decisive majority of her constituents.
Happy Birthday to America’s Olympic medal winner and boxer, Marlen Esparza. Esparza was born on July 29, 1989 in Houston, Texas. Early in her life, Esparza was plagued with poor grades and trouble at school, until she agreed to a strict program with her boxing coach. By age 16 Esparza was one of the youngest women to win the Women’s US National Championship. In 2007 she graduated from Pasadena High School with a 4.5 GPA and was accepted at three colleges. Esparza represented her country at the 2012 Olympics in London, winning a Bronze medal in boxing. (Image by Cover Girl)
On June 10, 1989, tennis fans applauded as Spanish star athlete, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, defeated the almost invincible Steffi Graff in the French Open. The women battled for three hours, and the game was marked by long rallies of 30 to 40 shots. A determined and tenacious player, Vicario briefly held the number one spot in both singles and doubles in 1995. Her record includes four Grand Slam singles titles, six Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She won over $66 million in prize money during her career, becoming one of the highest paid women tennis players in history. Vicario retired in 2002. (Image by Notices 24)
El 10 de junio de 1989, los aficionados al tenis aplaudido como estrella del deporte español, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, derrotó a los casi invencible Steffi Graff en el Abierto de Francia. Las mujeres lucharon durante tres horas, y el partido estuvo marcado por puntos largos de 30 a 40 disparos. Un jugador decidido y tenaz, Vicario brevemente ocupó el puesto número uno en singles y dobles en 1995. Su historial incluye cuatro títulos de Grand Slam, seis títulos de Grand Slam de la mujer dobles, y cuatro títulos de Grand Slam en dobles mixtos. Ella ganó más de $ 66 millones en premios durante su carrera, convirtiéndose en uno de los más altos pagados a los jugadores de tenis de la mujer en la historia. Vicario se retiró en 2002. (Imagen de Notices 24)
Happy Birthday to Emily Clara Rios, a Mexican-American actress and model born in Los Angeles, California, on April 27, 1989. Rios has starred in numerous television and film roles. She played the lead role in the acclaimed indie movie, “Quinceañera”, a story of a young Latin American woman’s coming of age in our turbulent, cross-cultural times.
The Chilean political opposition to dictator and General Augusto Pinochet triumphed on October 5, 1988, as the center-left Concertación party defeated Pinochet in his re-election bid. A general election was held in 1989. Concertación and its Presidential candidates won each year onwards, until a conservative candidate was elected in 2010.
On September 20, 1988, Lauro Fred Cavazos was sworn in as Secretary of Education in President Ronald Reagan’s Administration. Cavazos was the first Hispanic to serve in the US Cabinet. Cavazos is a sixth-generation Texan born in Kingsville, Texas. Cavazos’ father strongly encouraged his education, and after he served in World War II, Cavazos earned a BA and MS from Texas Tech University and later a medical degree from Iowa State University. In 1980, he was appointed as President of Texas Tech University and its Health Science Center. After serving as Secretary of Education, he returned to teach at Tufts University.
Happy Birthday to singer and actress Alexa Vega, born on August 27, 1988 in Miami, Florida. Vega’s father was from Colombia and her mother is a norteamericana and former model. Even at her young age, Vega already has a long career in television, beginning with Burt Reynolds’ TV series, “Evening Shade”. Vega has sung on stage in Broadway, and she’s starred in blockbuster films such as “Spy Kids”. A natural blonde, Vega dyes her hair brown to graciously accommodate the North American entertainment industry, which (apparently) sincerely believes that 390 million + Latinx have only one shade of hair color.
On August 9, 1988, US President Ronald Reagan nominated Lauro Fred Cavazos as Secretary of Education. Cavazos was the first Latinx to hold a cabinet post, which was really big. He earned a BA in zoology, an MA in cytology, and a Ph D in physiology. Cavazos also served as college president and professor and is a strong advocate of bilingualism in education. Cavazos is a sixth-generation Texan with a Mexican heritage.
March 18, 1988 is the release date of “The Milagro Beanfield War”, a film set in the fictional rural town of Milagro and filmed in Truchas, New Mexico. The fictional town was predominantly Catholic and Hispanic, with less than 500 residents. The drama centers on the issue of water rights as small bean farmers challenge large corporations (99% versus 1%). The film was directed by Robert Redford and features Panamanian star Ruben Blades and Brazilian film queen, Sonia Braga.
March 11, 1988 was the release date of “Stand and Deliver”, an inspiring Hollywood movie based on the true story of the students at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and their dedicated math teacher, Bolivian-American Jaime Escalante. Despite the difficult challenges of their tough environment, Escalante persisted in teaching them advanced levels of mathematics, eventually preparing them for the Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus Exam. After receiving excellent scores, the students and teacher were accused of cheating, and had to retake the test with little time to prepare. The students triumphed. Edward James Olmos portrayed Escalante in the movie and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.
On October 13, 1987, the Nobel Academy announced that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize. Arias worked tirelessly to reconcile the warring nations that neighbored his peaceful country. In the acceptance speech that he gave later that year in Sweden, Arias stated, “Peace is not a matter of prizes or trophies. It is not the product of a victory or command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions by many people in many countries. It is an attitude, a way of life, a way of solving problems and resolving conflicts. It cannot be forced on the smallest nation or enforced by the largest. It cannot ignore our differences or overlook our common interests. It requires us to work and live together.”
August 21, 1987 was the release date of the comedy, “Born in East LA”, written and directed by Cheech Marin of the Cheech & Chong comedy team. The film centers on a US citizen, Rudy Robles, mistakenly deported to Mexico in an immigration raid. Rudy struggles through Mexican, unable to speak Spanish, using his only foreign language, German acquired during his service in that country with the US Army. (Like, duh, a little ironic, a man who served his country deported.) After falling in love with a Mexican woman, numerous attempts to cross the border into his home country, and befriending several Mexican youths, Rudy manages to return home.
The city of San Francisco, California declared June 6, 1987 as “Santana Day”, honoring musician and composer Carlos Santana. Santana was born in Jalisco, Mexico in 1947, and began playing guitar when he was 8. By age 11, he was performing at nightclubs in Tijuana. His family moved to San Francisco, and Santana worked as a dishwasher as he developed his musical style. Santana created a new form of Latin Rock, combining an Afro-Cuban beat with a fast-tempo rock, blues base and low-key vocals. He recorded a number of hits in the 70s and 80s, including “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va”. His musical development continued and in 2000 he won 8 Grammys, including record of the year for “Smooth” and album of the year and best rock album for “Supernatural”. (Photo by Onar Vikingstad)
La ciudad de San Francisco, California declaró 06 de junio 1987 como el “Día Santana”, en honor a músico y compositor Carlos Santana. Santana nació en Jalisco, México, en 1947, y comenzó a tocar la guitarra cuando tenía 8 años. A la edad de 11, él estaba actuando en clubes nocturnos de Tijuana. Su familia se mudó a San Francisco, y Santana trabajó como lavaplatos como él desarrolló su estilo musical. Santana creó una nueva forma de rock latino, combinando un ritmo afro-cubano con una piedra de rápido ritmo, base de blues y voz de bajo perfil. Grabó una serie de éxitos en los años 70 y 80, incluyendo “Negro Magic Woman” y “Oye Como Va”. Su desarrollo musical continuó y en 2000 ganó ocho premios Grammy, incluyendo Grabación del Año por “Smooth” y álbum del año y mejor álbum de rock por “Supernatural”. (Foto de Onar Vikingstad)
Happy Birthday to NFL quarterback Mark Travis John Sanchez, born on November 11, 1986 in Long Beach, California. The 6′ 2″ tall Sanchez is a third-generation Mexican-American. His father was a strong influence in his life, and Sanchez began playing football in 8th grade coached by his papi. He played college football for the University of Southern California, leading USC through a victorious season and a win in the 2008 Rose Bowl. In 2009, Sanchez was drafted by the New York Jets as quarterback. Off the field, Sanchez is a fund raiser and supporter for a number of charitable causes, including the Inner-City Games Los Angeles, an after-school program or “at-risk youth”. (UPI photo collection/ Archie Carpenter)
The passion and artistry of Spain graced the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York City, as “Flamenco Puro” (“Pure Flamenco”) opened on October 19, 1986 for a run of 40 performances. The creating artist, Pablo Pena, had a lifelong love for the unique dance form. In an interview, Pena stated, “Flamenco at its purest … emerged in the early 19th century from a poverty-stricken melting pot of Gypsies, Moors, Jews and Spaniards in southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It was originally an expression of song and dance that poignantly mirrored the people’s brutal persecution.” (Please see June 1 for more on Pablo Pena.)
Agonized screams filled the streets of Santiago, Chile, as protestors Rodrigo Rojas de Negri and Carmen Gloria Quintana were burnt alive during a street demonstration against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Rojas’ mother was a political exile, and he had lived in the US and attended Woodrow Wilson High School. Quintana was an engineering student at the University of Santiago. The two were beaten by the military police, doused with gasoline, and left to die on July 2, 1986. Quintana survived. Pinochet had come to power in Chile through a military coup backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1993 the Chilean Supreme Court sentenced the lead military officer in the assault to about 2 years in prison for the death of Rojas DeNegri and the serious burns sustained by Quintana. (Image by Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos)
As the NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis launched into the night sky from the Kennedy Space Center on November 26, 1985, Latinx Rodolfo Neri Vela was among the crew. Neri is a Mexican scientist and astronaut who served as Payload Specialist for the mission. (A Payload Specialist is the technical expert on the carrying capacity of an aircraft or space ship, including cargo and scientific instruments or experiments.) Neri earned a BA in mechanical and electrical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), an MA in telecommunications systems from the University of Essex (England) and a Ph D in electromagnetic radiation from the University of Birmingham (England). Neri and the crew returned safely on December 3.
After persevering through a number of campaigns, Xavier Louis Suarez was finally elected as Mayor of the city of Miami. He was sworn in on November 13, 1985, and was the first Cuban born citizen to win this office. Suarez was born in Las Villas, Cuba, and immigrated to the US in 1962. He graduated from Villanova University and from Harvard University Law School. Suarez won with 57% of the vote. The New York Times reported that in his first words, the Mayor chose to emphasize his roots and an identification with the humble. “A great, great man once said: ‘Con los pobres de la tierra quiero yo mi suerte echar – With the poor people of this earth I want to share my fate.'” The quote is from the Cuban patriot and poet Jose Marti.
The mile high airwaves of Colorado were rocked with a new sound, as the first bilingual radio station in Denver made its debut on August 29, 1985. The station was the fulfilled dream of Florence Hernández-Ramos, the first Latinx female president and general manager of a public radio station. The station has a jazz format; as Hernández-Ramos noted in an interview, “People have a stereotype about Hispanic controlled station. They are shocked to discover we have a jazz format.” The station now broadcasts the very best in jazz, Latin jazz and blues – in addition to fifteen locally-produced, host-inspired, culturally diverse programs. Music shows are integrated with NPR news, our LOCAL morning program First Take with Lando and Chavis, and special features.
Audiences cheered as 14 year old Mary Joe Fernandez won a main draw match at the women’s US Open in the first round. Fernandez was born in the Dominican Republic, and immigrated to the US as a child with her family. Fernandez continued this dazzling start to her career, placing as runner-up in three Grand Slam singles tournaments and winning two Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals. She now contributes to her cherished sport as coach and commentator.
On July 15, 1985, to cheers, tears and applause, Puerto Rican actress and TV host Deborah Fátima Carthy-Deu was crowned as the 34th Miss Universe. Carthy-Deu was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and is the second Puerto Rican woman to achieve this title. She graduated with high honors from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Theater Arts and Education. In addition to her career in theater and television, the entrepreneurial Carthy-Deu owns a modeling and talent school.
To cheers and applause across the globe, the Live-Aid Concert began on July 13, 1985. The dual-venue concert was held in London, England and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to raise money for the human beings impacted by a terrible famine in Ethiopia. The event was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts to date: an estimated 1.9 billion human beings in 150 nations watched the live broadcast. (Imagine all that organization and sharing in the pre-Facebook era!) Among the contributing performers were Latino Rock icons Joan Baez and Carlos Santana.
On June 2, 1985, Nancy Lopez won the 31st LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Championship. Among her stellar accomplishments, Lopez is able to balance work and home life. In an interview with the New York Times, she stated, “I like being a wife and mother more than I like professional golf.” Lopez and her husband, former Major League Baseball player Ray Knight, share responsibility for their household. Knight added in the same interview, “We complement each other. We help each other with the chores.” Knight occasionally caddies for his wife.
El 2 de junio de 1985, Nancy López ganó el LPGA 31 (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Campeonato. Entre sus logros estelares, López es capaz de equilibrar el trabajo y la vida familiar. En una entrevista con el New York Times, señaló: “Me gusta ser una esposa y madre más que a mí me gusta el golf profesional”. López y su esposo, el ex jugador de Grandes Ligas, Ray Knight, comparten la responsabilidad de su hogar. Knight agregó en la misma entrevista: “Nos complementamos el uno al otro. Nos ayudamos mutuamente con las tareas.” Knight de vez en cuando caddies para su esposa.
On May 13, 1985, beautiful, talented Laura Elena Martinez-Herring was crowned as Miss USA, the first Latina to win the honor. Martinez was born in Los Mochis, a city in western Mexico. Her family later settled in Texas, the state that she represented in the Miss USA competition. Martinez studied at Aiglon College, a Swiss boarding school. The adventurous Martinez worked in India and traveled through Asia after graduation. Martinez began working in the film and television industry, where her career suffered from the dearth of quality roles for Hispanic actresses. Under the name Laura Harring, she starred in the “General Hospital” TV series and films such as “Rio Diablo” and “The Alamo, Thirteen Days to Glory”.
With the whisper whip of a speeding baseball cutting through the air on April 28, 1985, Mexican American Fernando Valenzeula pitched the conclusion of five shutouts during an eight-game winning streak to start the season. “Fernandomania” became a national epidemic. The 20-year old Valenzeula is left-handed, with an incredible screwball pitch that confounded the pros of his time. After a Major League career from 1980 to 1996, Valenzuela retired as the leading Mexican-born pitcher in Major League history. In 2003, he returned to assist his former team, the Dodgers, as a Spanish-language color commentator.
In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on October 2, 1984, Nicaraguan Presidential candidate Daniel Ortega charged that “intelligence information from various sources” indicated that the US was planning a two-stage invasion of Nicaragua. The invasion would be timed to force the Sandinistas to cancel the national balloting scheduled for November 4, 1984. Ortega stated that the US planned to use the Contra forces in a Grenada style invasion, and that US enemy combatants would also invade. Despite the formidable efforts of the US CIA through the Iran-Contra campaign, which did fund opposition forces, Ortega was elected and took office in January 1985. He won the Nicaraguan Presidency a second time in 2007. (Image from Time Magazine; reference to then President Ronald Reagan.)
June 9, 1984 is the birthday of Kaleth Miguel Morales Troya, a singer and songwriter born in Valledupar, Colombia. Troya wrote his first musical composition at age 13. He was regarded as the king of vallenato or New Wave Music, a Caribbean – Columbian style of folk music. Vallenato music originated in northeastern Colombia and has roots in African, European, and native Colombian music. The traditional vallenato instruments are native bamboo flutes, African-inspired drums, and German accordions. Vallenato features four rhythm styles: son and paseo, which are slower, and puya and merengue, which are more lively. Troya signed with Sony Records, and popularized this music throughout the Americas.
09 de junio 1984 es el cumpleaños de Kaleth Morales Troya Miguel, un cantante y compositor nacido en Valledupar, Colombia. Troya escribió su primera composición musical a los 13 años. Fue considerado como el rey del vallenato o música New Wave, el Caribe – estilo de la música popular colombiana. Música vallenata se originó en el noreste de Colombia y tiene sus raíces en África, Europa y música colombiana nativa. Los instrumentos tradicionales del vallenato son nativos de las flautas de bambú, tambores de inspiración africana, y acordeones alemanes. Vallenato cuenta con cuatro estilos de ritmo: Hijo y paseo, que son más lentos, y la puya y el merengue, que son más animado. Troya firmó con Sony Records, y popularizó esta música en todo el continente americano.
On May 10, 1984, the International Court of Justice in the city of The Hague in the Netherlands ruled that the US should cease its blockade of Nicaraguan ports and stop laying mines in the Nicaraguan harbor. The court held that, “The right to sovereignty and to political independence possessed by the Republic of Nicaragua, like any other S t a t e of the region or of the world, should be fully respected and should not in any way be jeopardized by any military and paramilitary activities which are prohibited by the principles of international law….” The mining of the harbors was part of the US CIA’s attempt to undermine the leftist Nicaraguan government, which had somehow managed to be democratically elected.
Happy Birthday to America Georgina Ferrera, the Hispanic American actress best known for her lead role in the television comedy series, “Ugly Betty”. California-born Ferrera is the daughter of Honduran immigrants. In an interview with Back Stage West, she related that her mother had immigrated “for the sole purpose that my siblings and I could get an education, could have every opportunity in the business world, and whatever we wanted to pursue would be at our fingertips.” Ferrera studied theater and international relations at the University of Southern California. She starred in numerous and diverse roles in her young life, including “Real Women have Curves”, “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”.
On April 10, 1984, the US Senate formally condemned the mining of the harbor of Nicaragua. As part of their effort to assist the Contras, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) placed explosive mines in the Nicaraguan harbor in a covert operation, without permission from the US government. (As a certain former Texas Governor would say, Oops!) Nicaragua sued the US in the World Court, and in June 1986 the World Court ruled that the US was guilty of violating international law.
February 29, 1984, is the birthday of Nuria Martinez, a Spanish-born basketball player for the US Women’s National Basketball Association. Martinez played guard for the Minnesota Lynx.
29 de febrero 1984, es el cumpleaños de Nuria Martínez, un jugador de baloncesto de origen español de la Asociación Nacional de Baloncesto de Mujeres de EE.UU.. Martínez juega guardia por las Minnesota Lynx.
January 11, 1984 is the release date of the independent film, “El Norte”. The film is a compassionate, tragic, and sometimes humorous portrayal of the journey of a brother and sister from Guatemala to the US (“El Norte”). There, they search for work and begin their personal quest of the American Dream. The film was directed by Gregory Nava, a Mexican American film director, producer and writer. The film won the 1985 Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
The multi-faceted political, social, economic, cultural, military and spiritual movement of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was founded in Chiapas, Mexico on November 17, 1983. Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico, with a large concentration of indigenous people comprising the Mixes-Zoques, the Mayas and the Chiapa. The movement is named after Emiliano Zapata, the agrarian reformer and commander during the Mexican Revolution. The movement defies classification, and is an alchemic blend of Mayan and indigenous cultural philosophy and social activism, with a definite distaste for the economics of neoliberal capitalism and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). EZLN has been at war with the Government of Mexico since 1994, though more recently its people have pursued a course of nonviolence and sought international recognition for the rights and welfare of their communities. For further insight, please visit the EZLN Facebook Page. (Image from EZLN Facebook Page)
US President Ronald Reagan announced his appointment of Katherine Davalos Ortega on September 12, 1983 as US Secretary of the Treasury. “She is symbolic of the values the Hispanic community represents, and I am honored that she is to become a part of this administration,” stated Reagan. Ortega was born in Tularosa, New Mexico, and Spanish was her first language. She earned a BA at Eastern New Mexico State University, and also served as on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Small and Minority Business Ownership.
On December 8, 1982, Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (1927 – 2014) delivered his Nobel lecture, entitled “The Solitude of Latin America”, when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Marquez has written novels, short-stories, screenplays, and articles, woven with magical realism, a style that highlights the worlds beyond those ordinary and seen. His books include “Love in the Time of Cholera”, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, and “Autumn of the Patriarch”. His work as a journalist, with his outspoken criticism of the dictatorship of Chilean Augusto Pinochet and US imperialism, were not well received by the US government. Márquez was denied a visa until President Bill Clinton lifted the travel ban. His Nobel acceptance speech concludes with, “A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.”
In an uneasy transition from decades of dictatorship to democracy, Felipe González was inaugurated as President of Spain on December 2, 1982. González was the Presidential candidate of the Spanish Socialist Worker Party (PSOE). The PSOE won 46% of the vote, a parliamentary majority. González’s conservative brand of socialism, sometimes termed Felipismo, has been criticized by the right as too radical and by the left as too centrist. González defined his core political philosophy in an example to The Financial Times, “…my rejection, my repugnance of the fact that a person’s health can be subject to the rule of the market place. If you can afford the product, buy it. You can’t? Well, you are finished. If someone without money needs a kidney transplant our duty is to give them the opportunity.”
On December 22, 1981, the last military dictators took power in Argentina’s Dirty War against its own citizens, as General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli assumed the Presidency. Galtieri attended classes at the infamous US Army School of the Americas in 1949, when the School operated in the Panama Canal Zone, and spent six months studying with the US military at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1960. During the Dirty War, one of the death squad battalions reported directly to him. Galtieri thought that the US would continue to support him, but in 1982 he seriously miscalculated his invasion of the Falkland Islands, as the US sided with the British. As the domestic war ended, the civilian Argentine government and human rights activists made numerous attempts to prosecute him. Galtieri was finally indicted in 1999. (Image of General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli)
The screams of terror and the flow of tears continued throughout the day and night as the people of El Mozote, El Salvador, were massacred by the battalion known as the “Angels of Hell”. The villagers were raped, tortured, bayoneted and shot at point blank range. When the last of their blood had soaked into the earth and the last of the dead stared open eyed at the sky, over 800 civilian men, women, and children had been brutally murdered. The massacre occurred during the El Salvadoran Civil War, when much Central America was embroiled in conflict, often with US intervention. The “Angels of Hell” of the Salvadoran Atlacatl Battalion were trained at the US Army School of the Americas, which was then operating in Panama. In 1992, formal exhumations of the bodies began, and a United Nations-sponsored Truth Commission uncovered the horrifying sequence of events.
US baseball’s prestigious Cy Young Award had never been awarded to a rookie player – until Fernando Valenzuela sparkled on the diamond. (Please note, a rookie in Major League Baseball is a player with fewer than 130 times at bat or 50 innings pitched in the majors, or less than 45 days on the active rosters of an MLB club.) The 20-year-old Mexican-American debuted in 1981, and dazzled the city of Los Angeles and the sport of baseball with his left-handed pitching and overall athleticism. After a brilliant career, Valenzuela retired to become a sports commentator for the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Image from todanoticia.com)
In an angry dark night as the Civil War raged throughout Guatemala, a North American priest from Oklahoma City was gunned down in the impoverished village where he ministered. Father Stanley Rother served in Santiago Atitlan from 1968 until 1981. He left temporarily because of the death threats that he received for his opposition to the presence of the Guatemalan military in the area, but he soon returned to the people whom he loved. The shooting was classified as a “burglary” and the assassins were never found. The bloody Guatemalan Civil War was fought from 1960 to 1996, pitting the national military against leftists groups representing the First Nation Mayan people. (Image from Maryknoll Magazine)
In recognition of his contribution to music and the arts, guitarist Andre Segovia was ennobled by King Juan Carlos I of Spain on June 24, 1981. Segovia is the most celebrated classical guitarist in the world, and is universally acknowledged as the founding father of modern classical guitar. Segovia was born in Andalusia, Spain in 1893. At age 16, he made his public debut in Granada. For 78 years, he delighted audiences around the world with his stunning and inspiring performances. He continued his career into his 90s, teaching, practicing 5 hours a day, and performing 60 concerts annually. (Drawing by Hilda Weiner)
En reconocimiento a su contribución a la música y las artes, el guitarrista Andrés Segovia fue ennoblecido por el rey Juan Carlos I de España el 24 de junio de 1981. Segovia es el guitarrista clásico más famoso del mundo, y es universalmente reconocido como el padre fundador de la guitarra clásica moderna. Segovia nació en Andalucía, España, en 1893. A los 16 años, hizo su debut público en Granada. Por 78 años, hizo las delicias de los espectadores de todo el mundo con sus actuaciones impresionantes e inspiradoras. Continuó su carrera en sus 90 años, la enseñanza, la práctica de 5 horas al día, y la realización de 60 conciertos al año. (Dibujo de Hilda Weiner)
A violent, fiery plane crash into a mountain on May 24, 1981 ended the life of Jaime Roldós Aguilera, then President of Ecuador. Aguilera was an educator, author, and politician. At 39 years old, he was the youngest President elected in the Western Hemisphere. He took office following a difficult nine-year period of military and civilian dictatorship. Aguilera worked to restore freedom of the press and granted amnesty to political prisoners. He initiated labor law reforms and agricultural improvements, with the goal of leading the country to democracy. His ‘accidental’ death was viewed with great suspicion, with (guess who) the US CIA as prime suspect.
Henry Cisneros was elected as mayor of San Antonio on April 4, 1981, the first Hispanic mayor since Texas joined the US. He earned a BA from Texas A&M University, an MA from Harvard University, and a Ph D in public administration from George Washington University. In 1975, he was selected as a White House Fellow. President Bill Clinton appointed him to the Cabinet level post of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1993. Cisneros was later tarnished by a scandal involving payments to his mistress. In 1997, Cisneros was named to lead Univision Communications, a leading Spanish language media company.
To the cheers of roaring fans, Latinxo athlete Alberto Salazar was the first to race across the finish line of the 11th New York City Marathon on October 26, 1980. Salazar won with a time of 2:09:41 (two hours, nine minutes and forty-one seconds). This win was the first of three straight victories in the New York City Marathon by Salazar. (Please see August 17, 1958 for more on Alberto Salazar.)
On June 2, 1980, Cuban born Roberto Crispulo Goizueta was promoted to president of the Coca Cola Company, 26 years after he had answered a newspaper ad to work for the company in Cuba. The next year, Goizueta was elected by the board to as Coke’s chairman and chief executive officer. Goizueta graduated from Yale University, and had returned to Cuba as a young man. He left after the takeover by Castro, and continued to work for Coke in the US. Goizueta led the company on a path of tremendous growth. In 1981, the share value of Coke was $4.3 billion, and by the end of Goizueta’s term in 1997, the share value had increased to more than $152 billion. Goizueta became one of the wealthiest Latinos in the US. He stated in a speech that: “My story boils down to a single, inspiring reality … that a young immigrant could come to this country, be given a chance to work hard and apply his skills, and ultimately earn the opportunity to lead … an institution that actually symbolizes the very essence of America and American ideals.” (Photo by Chip Simones)
El 2 de junio de 1980, nacido en Cuba, Roberto Goizueta Críspulo fue ascendido a presidente de la Compañía Coca Cola, 26 años después de que él había respondido a un anuncio en el periódico para trabajar para la compañía en Cuba. Al año siguiente, Goizueta fue elegido por la junta como presidente de Coca-Cola y director ejecutivo. Goizueta se graduó de la Universidad de Yale, y había regresado a Cuba como un hombre joven. Se fue después de la toma del poder por Castro, y continuó trabajando para Coca-Cola en los EE.UU.. Goizueta llevó a la compañía en una senda de crecimiento tremendo. En 1981, el valor de las acciones de Coca-Cola fue de $ 4,3 mil millones, y para el final del plazo de Goizueta en 1997, el valor de la acción había aumentado a más de $ 152 mil millones. Goizueta se convirtió en uno de los más ricos de los latinos en los EE.UU.. Afirmó en su discurso que: “Me hierve la historia a una realidad única e inspiradora … que un joven inmigrante podría venir a este país, tener la oportunidad de trabajar duro y poner en práctica sus habilidades y, finalmente, ganar la oportunidad de conducir … una institución que realmente simboliza la esencia misma de América y los ideales estadounidenses “. (Foto de Chip Simones)
On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was assassinated while celebrating Mass at a small chapel. Romero was a leader in liberation theology, in which priests and ministers preached against repressive dictatorships and human rights violations. Romero was deeply concerned about the persecution of the poor, political activists, and the priests and nuns in El Salvador who supported them. In 1980, he wrote that, “… it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. …That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.” The tens of thousands of mourners who attended his funeral were fired on by government troops.
On February 10, 1980, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated as Brazil’s 35th President, an office that he held through 1994. Popularly known as Lula, he promoted programs to alleviate poverty and hunger in Brazil. A self-made man, Lula worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy in his youth, and did not learn to read until he was 10 years old. Time Magazine named him as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2010.
El 10 de febrero de 1980, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tomó posesión como 35 º Presidente de Brasil, cargo que ocupó hasta 1994. Popularmente conocido como Lula, promovió programas para aliviar la pobreza y el hambre en Brasil. Un hombre hecho a sí mismo, Lula trabajó como vendedor de maní y un niño limpiabotas en su juventud, y no aprendió a leer hasta los 10 años de edad. La revista Time lo nombró como una de “Las 100 Personas Más Influyentes del Mundo” de 2010.
On January 31, 1980, a number of Guatemalan indigenous people and their allies occupied Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City. The people were protesting the killing of civilians by the Guatemalan Army. The protestors selected the Spanish embassy, since the Spanish were sympathetic to their cause. The Guatemalan police raided the embassy later that day, and destroyed the building in a blaze of flames. Thirty-six people were killed, including Vicente Menchú, father of Rigoberta Menchú (please see January 9 for information on Rigoberta). The Spanish Ambassador escaped by jumping out of a window. The Spanish broke off relations with Guatemala over the tragic incident, which were not restored until 1984.
Happy Birthday to Scott Gomez, the first Latinx player in the National Hockey League. Gomez’s paternal grandparents were from Mexico; Gomez was born in Anchorage, Alaska, to a hockey loving papi who encouraged his son’s athleticism. Gomez earned recognition as rookie of the year at age 20, and has since played professionally for the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadians, and the San Jose Sharks. Gomez said of his heritage, “I’m Mexican-Colombian, and I take pride in it. I take as much pride being from Alaska. But if an Hispanic kid sees what I’m doing and it makes him feel good, then that’s what it’s all about.” (Image from www.NHL.com)
On October 24, 1979, Edward Hidalgo was sworn in as the first Latinx US Secretary of the Navy. Hidalgo was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and immigrated as a young child with his family, an early “DREAMer”. Hidalgo earned a BA at Holy Cross University and law degrees from Columbia and the University of Mexico. He had a distinguished career in law and public service prior to his appointment, including with the US Information Agency. Among his numerous awards, he was knighted by the Swedish government and received the Order of the Aztec Eagle from Mexico.
Happy Birthday to actor, director and documentary producer Gael Garcia Bernal, born in Guadalajara, Mexico on November 30, 1978. Bernal studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Bernal is a star in Mexican and Spanish cinema; his starring roles in Hollywood films include “The Motorcycle Diaries”, “Babel”, and “Letters to Juliet”. Bernal has produced a series of documentaries on the dangers endured by Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to the US. Titled “The Invisibles”, Bernal was awarded the 2011 Human Rights Award from the Washington Office on Latin America for these films. (Please see September 15, 2011 for details.)
Happy Birthday to Maria Joselina Garcia Cobos, born October 31, 1978, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In 1997, the beautiful and talented Garcia won the Miss Honduras beauty pageant, and competed for Miss Universe that year. Although she did not win the crown, she placed second in the competition for “Best Native Costume”.
Fabulous music filled the night air with the debut of “Evita” on June 20, 1978, at Prince Edward Theatre in London. The rock opera was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The musical centers on the life of Argentina’s Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story depicts Evita’s early life, rise to power, public service, and eventual death. The musical closed at this theater in 1986, after 2,900 performances.
Fabuloso música llenaba el aire de la noche con el estreno de “Evita” el 20 de junio de 1978, en el Prince Edward Theatre de Londres. La ópera rock fue creado por Andrew Lloyd Webber y Tim Rice. Los centros musicales en la vida de Eva Perón de Argentina, la segunda esposa del presidente Juan Perón de Argentina. La historia describe la vida temprana de Evita, llegar al poder, el servicio público, y eventualmente la muerte. El musical cerradas en este teatro en 1986, después de 2.900 actuaciones.
On February 26, 1978, Mexican-American Pro Golfer Nancy Lopez won the Bent Tree Classic in Sarasota, Florida. This win was the first of her 48 victories in the Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments. Lopez’s father taught her to play golf, and she was outscoring him by age 11. She won the New Mexico Women’s Open at age 12. The entrepreneurial Lopez has also started her own line of athletic clothing for women.
El 26 de febrero de 1978, Mexican American Nancy López ganó el Clásico Bent Tree en Sarasota, Florida. Esta victoria fue la primera de sus 48 victorias en los torneos Ladies Professional Golf Association. Padre de López le enseñó a jugar al golf, y ella lo estaba superando por 11 años. Ella ganó el New Mexico Abierto de Mujeres a los 12 años. Los López empresarial también ha comenzado su propia línea de ropa deportiva de las mujeres.
Happy birthday to Carlos Iván Beltrán, a leading baseball outfielder from Puerto Rico. Beltrán has played for the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants. He was the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to have a 3 2-run HR game (2011). With his hard earned millions, Beltrán founded and funded a nonprofit in Puerto Rico, stating that, “My mission is to give young people opportunities and allow them to become well-rounded individuals while providing them with the necessary guidance to take control of their future while using both sports and education as their main tools to achieve their goals.” (Photo by Carlos Beltran Academy Web site.)
Happy Birthday to Puerto Rican American Ramón “Raymond” Luis Ayala Rodríguez, born on February 3, 1977. His stage name is Daddy Yankee. Rodríguez had dreamed of playing Major League Baseball, until he was permanently injured when he was caught in the crossfire of a barrio gunfight. The unstoppable Rodríguez is one of the biggest reggaetón artists in the US. Reggaetón is a Puerto Rican musical style that is a hybrid of Latin, Caribbean and US music, influenced by Latin salsa and rap, and Jamaican dance hall. Just hum of few bars of Rodríguez’s 2004 super-hit, Gasolina, and you’ll get the reggaetón rhythm.
Feliz cumpleaños a Puerto Rico americano Ramón “Raymond” Luis Ayala Rodríguez, nacido el 3 de febrero de 1977. Su nombre artístico es Daddy Yankee. Rodríguez había soñado con jugar la Liga Mayor de Béisbol, hasta que fue lesionado permanentemente cuando fue atrapado en el fuego cruzado de un tiroteo barrio. El imparable Rodríguez es uno de los más grandes artistas de reggaetón en los EE.UU.. El reggaetón es un estilo musical puertorriqueño que es un híbrido de América, el Caribe y la música de EE.UU., influenciado por el latín salsa y rap y dancehall jamaiquino. Sólo el zumbido de unos compases de 2004 Rodríguez super-hit, Gasolina, y obtendrá el ritmo de reggaetón.
The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago became an independent republic on October 26, 1976. The nation is comprised of two islands near the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean; Trinidad is the larger island. Christopher Columbus invaded the island in 1498, when the Taino nations resided there. The islands remained under Spanish control until 1797, when a fleet of British warships arrived and demanded the capitulation of the Spanish Governor (that’s sooo British!). Trinidad and Tobago remained under British rule until 1962, when it became independent. The country’s economy is primarily industrial, rather than dependent on tourism, and petroleum and petrochemicals are key industries. The multicultural nation is also known for its cultural achievements, including originating the music of steel pan and calypso.
Happy Birthday to Big Papi, as Major League Baseball player David Américo Ortiz Arias is known. Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz was encouraged by his father to play baseball and learn English. His father’s intuition was correct, and Ortiz is regarded as one of the top clutch hitters in MLB history. (A “clutch hitter” is the guy who is relied on, and delivers, the big, game-deciding hits.) In 2005, Big Papi helped to lead the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series victory in 86 years. Although Big Papi has played with injuries, in July 2012 he hit his 400th career home run. In 2007, Big Papi formed the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, to assist children in need.
Happy Birthday to Major League Baseball player Plácido Enrique Polanco, born on October 10, 1975 in the Dominican Republic. Polanco attended Miami-Dade Community College, where he starred on the team. Polanco is regarded as “a consummate professional”, and has won numerous awards for his sports performance. In 2006, he led the Detroit Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years. As a sports writer in the Detroit press stated, “Without Polanco, there’s no game-winning home run, no celebration, no champagne. . . . Instead, Polanco and the Tigers are headed to the World Series.” Polanco’s off-field starring role is as husband and father of two children.
To the surprise of cheering fans, Manuel Orantes upset leading US tennis player Jimmy Connors to win the US Open. Orantes’ win was regarded as one of the greatest Grand Slam matches in tennis history. Orantes was born in Granada, Spain, and has a reputation for being a true gentleman. In 2012, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Happy Birthday to children’s book author and baseball superstar Alex Rodriquez, born in New York City. When Rodriquez was 4, his father moved the family to his home in the Dominican Republic. After Rodriquez ‘s return to the US, talent scouts spotted him early, and at age 18 Rodriquez was playing in a professional league, one of the youngest players to accomplish this. Rodriguez has hit all star status 10 times, and is one of the highest paid players in baseball history, earnings $135 million from 2001 through 2006 with the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. He won the American League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2003 and 2005. Rodriguez wrote the children’s book, “Hit a Grand Slam” about his experiences of talking with kids at elementary schools and mentoring programs.
Happy Birthday to Enrique Iglesias, born May 8, 1975 in Madrid, Spain, to a Spanish father and Philippine mother. Iglesias grew up in Miami and studied at the University of Miami. He cites his musical influences as artists such as Dire Straits, John Mellencamp, and Fleetwood Mac. Iglesias has sold over 100 million records worldwide, and is one of the best selling Spanish language artists of all time. He has earned 55 number-one hits on the various Billboard charts. Iglesias also co-produced an off-Broadway musical and starred in small roles in movies and television commercials.
On April 22, 1975, General Juan Alberto Melgar Castro took power in an overthrow of the government in Honduras. His predecessor was implicated in a bribery scandal with the United Fruit Company, a US corporation. Castro was a graduate of the US School of the Americas, which has educated a number of less than stellar pupils, including Manual Noriega. Castro was in turn overthrown by the Honduran military in 1979.
March 15, 1975 is the birthday of Eva Longoria, a “Texican” American actress known for her gorgeous looks and her commitment to charities and organizations supporting Latinos. Eva’s ancestors arrived in Texas long before it was Texas, emigrating from Spain in 1603. In 1767 the King of Spain granted almost 4,000 acres along the Rio Grande to Pedro Longoria, Eva’s 7th great-grandfather. This land remained in Longoria’s family for over a century. Longoria also has Native American ancestors. The American Latino Media Arts awards have honored Longoria on several times, and in 2006 she was selected as ALMA’s “person of the year.”
US television history was made on September 13, 1974, with the premiere of the comedy series, “Chico and The Man”. This was the first US television series set in a Mexican American neighborhood. The series featured Jack Albertson as the grumpy owner of a repair garage in East Los Angeles, and Freddie Prinze (born Frederick Karl Pruetzel) as the optimstic Chicano man who works for him. The hilarious chemistry between the two actors propelled the sitcom to the status of a major hit for several seasons, until Prinze’s tragic suicide in 1977. For a view of the first meeting between Chicho and The Man, please visit this page on YouTube. (Note, film footage provided for educational purposes.)