28th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival

The curtains open on July 11, 2013, as stages throughout the Americas are 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.

Navy’s Facebook Honoring Commander Debra Yniguez

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.

Valentina Guerrero’s Supermodel Debute

With a flutter of her eyelashes and a giggle, supermodel Valentina Guerrero made her catwalk debut in Miami.  The 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.

The Launch of the “Beyond the Call” Campaign

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)

Endorsement of “Familia es familia”

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

Opening of the Festival of Latin American Youth Theater

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.

First Sale of Tributo a Mi Padre

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.

The First Use of the Sucre

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.

Racism in Texas 2009

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.)


“El Sistema” Airs

“…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.

Passing of a New Law in Prince William County, Virginia

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)

Latinos Protest Discrimination New York City 2003

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.)

Alvarino de Leira Alvarino Awarded Great Silver Medal of Galici

On July 23, 1993, scientist Angeles Alvarino 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.

The Release of the documentary “The Panama Deception”

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

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!

Latino Appearances for the Office of War Information Photographers

A very young Latino 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 book of faces at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.

Happy Birthday to Marlen Esparza

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)

Protest against General Augusto Pinochet

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.  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)

Crowning of Miss Universe 1985

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.

The First Night of the Live-Aid Concert

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.

Another Tragedy of the Guatemalan Civil War

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 indigenous Mayan people.

Happy Birthday to Alex Rodriquez

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.

President of Argentina Inaugurated

On July 1, 1974, Isabel Martínez de Perón was inaugurated as President of Argentina.  Perón was the third wife of another former President, Juan Perón.  When her husband died in office, Perón served his term.  She was the first non-royal woman head of state and head of government in the Western Hemisphere.  Unfortunately, during Argentina’s Dirty War, Perón allegedly signed decrees allowing the military to arrest and murder Argentine citizens declared as “subversives.”  Perón herself was arrested a few years later during her exile in Spain; Spanish courts subsequently refused to extradite her to Argentina.

Release of the album “Love, Devotion, Surrender” by Carlos Santana

Inner peace through electric guitar was the message from musician and spiritualist Carlos Santana, in the release of the album “Love, Devotion, Surrender”.   Inspired by Indian guru Sri Chinmoy and homage to jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, the jazz fusion album was created with British musician John McLaughlin. For Santana, the album was also a reflection of his spiritual awakening, and included songs such as “The Life Divine” and traditional gospel “Let us Go Into the House of the Lord”.

Happy Birthday to Sofía Margarita Vergara

Happy Birthday to the stunningly beautiful, witty, and talented Sofía Margarita Vergara, born a natural blonde on July 10, 1972 in Barranquilla, Colombia. As a young student, Vergara studied dentistry, and was close to graduation when she was spotted by a photographer – and you’ll never guess what happened next!  She soon launched a modeling career, and quickly graduated to acting.  Vergaga now entertains North Americans audiences in her role as Gloria Pritchett in the ABC comedy “Modern Family”.  Her numerous awards include the Women of Hope Award (2002) and the NAACP Image Award for best supporting actress in a comedy series (2011). (Image by UPI /Lori Shepler)

Happy Birthday to Jennifer Lopez

She’s achieved the iconic one word celebrity handle:  J-Lo.  Jennifer Lopez was born in New York City, USA, on July 24, 1969, to parents of Puerto Rican heritage.  Her parents had hoped her career path would be college and law school, but Jennifer chose song, dance and theater.  Her breakout acting role was in the film “Selena” when she starred as Selena Quintanilla Perez, the murdered Tejano singer.  J-Lo has been honored with the American Latino Media Arts Award (ALMA), the Image Award of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP), and American Music Awards, among many others.  The savvy business woman is now managing corporate endorsements while raising two young twins.  We hope that Jennifer has time to enjoy her birthday.

Happy Birthday to Sandra Bullock

Happy Birthday to Honorary Latina Sandra Bullock, a talented actress and comedienne committed to supporting positive roles for Latinos in media and entertainment.  Bullock was born in Washington, DC, on July 26, 1966, and is a graduate of East Carolina University.  Her charisma and screen presence have made her a box office sensation.   During her busy career, she found time to help an unknown, aspiring Latino named George Lopez, assisting Lopez to get his own show.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lopez stated, “I owe everything to her, because she didn’t have to do this…. She did this out of a love for the culture and because of a lack of visibility for Latinos on TV.”

Happy Birthday to John Leguizamo

Happy Birthday to John Leguizamo, a talented, highly regarded actor, singer, playwright, and producer who works in theater, film and television.  Leguizamo has appeared in over 20 movies, and was the first Latino to have his own TV comedy/ variety show and one man show on Broadway.  Born in Colombia to Puerto Rican and Colombian parents, he immigrated to the US with his family as a child.  Leguizamo is a great American success story, starting humbly and paying for his tuition for acting classes with his earnings from his job at Kentucky Fried Chicken.   Conscious of the stereotypes and discrimination facing Latinos, he wrote “Mambo Mouth”, a play based on real people who also happen to be Hispanic.  (Image is album cover)

Happy Birthday Jose Canseco

Happy Birthday to the talented and controversial baseball player Jose Canseco, born in Havana, Cuba on July 2, 1964.  Canseco played for a number of Major League Baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox.  In June 1990 Canseco signed a five-year contract for $23.5 million; at that time, he was baseball’s highest-paid player.  Known for his powerful batting as well as speed and agility, Canseco was a formidable sportsman.  He also garnered serious disapproval for his self-admitted use of steroids and his rude behavior off the field, which he detailed in his 2005 book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” 

Happy Birthday to Cecilia Munoz

Happy Birthday to civil rights activist and public servant Cecilia Munoz, born on July 27, 1962, to Bolivian immigrant parents.  Her father attended the University of Michigan to study automotive engineering and Cecilia Munoz also graduated from this University.  Munoz earned her MA degree at the University of California at Berkeley.  She served at the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy organization for Latino civil rights.  In 2008, Munoz was appointed as director of intergovernmental affairs for President Barack Obama.  As of 2012, Munoz serves as Director of the US Domestic Policy Council.

Juan Marichals Debute in Major League Baseball

On July 19, 1960, Juan Marichal debuted in the Major Leagues by pitching a one hitter with 12 strikeouts against the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Dominican-born Marichal played with the New York Giants, San Francisco Giants, and Boston Red Sox.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Happy Birthday Anna Maria Arias

July 12, 1960 was the birthday of Anna Maria Arias, a trailblazing Latina entrepreneur and media mogul, born in San Bernardino, California.  Arias was the founder of Latina Style magazine, the first North American magazine for professional Hispanic women.  Arias’ mission was to provide a positive image of Hispanic Americans, focusing on their accomplishments and contributions.  As she stated in the magazine’s first issue, “The contemporary Hispanic woman has been virtually ignored by general market media, and even the Hispanic media tends to under represent the positive contributions made by Hispanic women. To redress this state, and address the needs of this growing market segment, LATINA Style magazine was born.”  One of the only battles that Arias lost was her final one with aplastic anemia in 2001.

Happy Birthday to Cristina Garcia

Happy Birthday to Cristina Garcia, a Cuban born journalist and novelist, whose family immigrated to the US when she was 2 years old.   Garcia earned her BA from Barnard College and completed graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University.  She started as a journalist with Time Magazine.   Her first novel, “Dreaming in Cuba”, was nominated for a National Book Award.  The story centers on three generations of Cuban women with very different perspectives on the 1950s Cuban Revolution, in which Fidel Castro came to power.  (Image by AP/Wide World Photos)

Happy Birthday to Monica Cecilia Lozano

Happy Birthday to Monica Cecilia Lozano, born in Los Angeles on July 21, 1956.  Lozano earned a ranking among the 100 most influential Hispanic women by Hispanic Business Magazine in 1987 and 1992.  The newspaper editor and social activist has received numerous awards for her contributions and public service for human rights.  She has been publisher and CEO of La Opinion since 2004, when La Opinion merged with the New York City daily El Diario La Prensa to create ImpreMedia, the largest Spanish-language news organization in the US.  In 2008, Lozano was appointed on the US Presidential Board of Economic Advisors.

Happy Birthday to Jimmy Smits

Happy Birthday to the talented Jimmy Smits, born on July 9, 1955 in New York City.  His mother was Puerto Rican and his father was Surinamese (check your map, that country is located in South America).   Smits grew up in Brooklyn, though he spent a few years in Puerto Rico as a child.  The Emmy award winning actor has starred in a number of enormously popular TV series, including LA Law, NYPD Blue, and West Wing.  The former teacher graduated with a BA in Education from Brooklyn College and later earned an MA from Cornell University in Theater Arts.  Smits is a co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, which is dedicated to advancing opportunities for Latinos in the entertainment industry.  (Image from HispanicArts.org)

The Motorcycle Diaries

With happy shouts of farewell and the roar of a motorcycle engine, one of the best known road trips of the 20th century began.  Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado left Argentina on July 7, 1953.  They traveled over 5,000 miles in four months, through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.  The journey saddened and illuminated the young Ernesto; in viewing the poverty and economic injustice throughout Latin America, he discovered his life’s calling to revolution and social equality. Their travels were remembered in “The Motorcycle Diaries”, a film starring Gael García Bernal produced by Robert Redford. (Image of movie poster)


Happy Birthday to Ruben Blades

Happy birthday to actor, singer, politician, poet and social activist Ruben Blades, born in Panama City, Panama on July 16, 1948. After achieving a degree in law and economics, his love of music inspired him to take a job in the mailroom of a record company in New York.  In true American style, his big break came when famous singer Ray Barretto asked Blades to fill in for one of his singers.  Blades has recorded more than 50 albums, won 9 Grammies, and appeared in 50 films.  He ran for President of Panama in 1994, and earned 18% of the vote.  He was appointed as Minister of Tourism in 2004.

Happy Birthday to Linda Ronstadt

Happy Birthday to the wonderfully talented Linda Ronstadt, whose stellar singing voice has ranged from rock to country to mariachi to operetta.  Ronstadt was born on July 15, 1946, in Tucson, Arizona, where her father, a hardware store manager, loved to play and sing Mexican music.  Ronstadt was raised during a decidedly anti-Hispanic heritage era in Arizona, an attitude which has resurfaced under the state’s current political leadership.  As she noted in an interview with Parade Magazine, “When we were little, we spoke Spanish at home, but the schools pounded it out of us pretty early.  There was an antibilingual attitude then.”  She started with the briefly successful group “The Stone Poneys” then soloed in the 1970’s with hits that baby-boomers will remember:  “When Will I Be Loved?”, “Desperado”, “You’re No Good”, and “Blue Bayou”.  At this phase in her life, Rondstadt has returned to her Latino roots, and recorded an album of her father’s favorite mariachi songs.

Happy Birthday to Cheech Marin

Happy Birthday to Cheech Marin, a third-generation, native English speaker born in LA, California.   The talented actor in his fabulous counterculture comedic roles has entertained norteamericanos for decades.   A straight “A” student who worked his way through college as a dishwasher and janitor, Cheech graduated from California State University.  He met his comedic partner, Chong, in Canada, while on hiatus from the Vietnam War.  His comedic social satire, “Born in East LA”, was a successful Hollywood film.  He entered the big budget film world of Hollywood with his role in “The Tin Cup” and he has played a voice over character in “The Lion King”.   (Image from www.CheechandChong.com)

Happy Birthday to Richard Rodriguez

Happy Birthday to Richard Rodriguez, the controversial and compelling author and chronicler of the Latino and gay experiences in America.  Rodriguez was born in Sacramento, California on July 31, 1944, to Mexican American parents.  He earned a BA from Stanford University, an MA from Columbia University, was a PhD candidate in English Renaissance literature at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is a critic of the affirmative action programs that benefited him, and has also spoken out against bilingual education. His notable works include “Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez”, “Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father”, and “Brown: The Last Discovery of America”.

Happy Birthday to Geraldo Rivera

Happy Birthday to the man who inspires love or hate, admiration or exasperation, but rarely a neutral reaction.  Geraldo Rivera, a lawyer, television host, and author, was born on July 3, 1943.  Geraldo attended the University of Arizona, Brooklyn Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Columbia University School of Journalism.  His original career goal was to be an activist lawyer; with his flamboyant personality, he was soon recruited by the television industry.  In 1987, he started to host his hour-long syndicated talk show Geraldo, and with his self-described “down and dirty” reporting and willingness to put himself in danger, he soon became the most controversial television journalist on the air.  Rivera is also an accomplished author; his books include, “The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity”.  Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday to Carmen Inoa Vazquez

Happy Birthday to bicultural clinical psychologist, teacher and author Carmen Inoa Vazquez, born in Bonao, Dominican Republic, on July 16, 1942.   Vazquez graduated from Queens College, Cum Laude, and earned a Ph.D. from City University’s APA Approved Program in Clinical Psychology.  Vazquez contributes to numerous books, academic journals and popular magazines, offering advice and insight on the complex psychological perspective of ethnic minorities.  Her books include “Parenting with Pride Latino Style” and “The Maria Paradox”.  Vazquez also teaches as the Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine

Happy birthday to Vicente Fox Quesada

Happy Birthday to Vicente Fox Quesada, born on July 2, 1942 in Guanajuato, Mexico.  Fox made modern Mexican political history when he was elected as the first President from an opposition party, the Partido Acción Nacional.  Fox defeated the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, which had ruled uninterrupted for 70 years.  Fox started his career in business, rising to the position of CEO of Coca-Cola in Mexico.  Once elected, he pursued policies to mitigate corruption, reformed the law enforcement system, privatized electric utilities, and developed a system of “micro-credits” to help Mexico’s farmers and small business owners.  Upon leaving office, Fox requested a Presidential pension on the basis that, “I have not stolen a single cent …”, a claim that few politicians in this world can make.

Happy Birthday to Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona

Among our Hispanics that you didn’t know are Hispanic:  Happy Birthday to Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona, known as Vikki Carr, born on July 19, 1941.  Carr is a singer and humanitarian from El Paso Texas, who has performed in diverse genres, including jazz, pop, and country.  Carr sang at the Republication National Convention in 1984, further evidence that once upon a time in America, the Republican Party actually liked Hispanics.

“Facebook 1940” New Mexico Latinas

Two young Latinas pose for their portraits in July 1940 in Chamisal, New Mexico.  New Mexico was home to the Pueblo nations for thousands of years, and many citizens still speak their Uto-Aztec languages. The Spanish were the first European settlers in New Mexico, and began surveying and mapping the state in 1539.  New Mexico was next part of the nation of Mexico, and joined the Union as a state in The photos were taken as part of an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944 by the Office of War Information Photograph Collection, For more photos, please visit our country’s book of faces at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.

Life in America: A Latinos Life Between 1935 and 1944

Hispanic Americans dance at a traditional festival in Taos, New Mexico, in July 1940.  Russell Lee, a photographer for the Office of War Information Photograph Collection, snapped their photos as part of an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944.  The Taos region was initially settled by the Native American nations; in 1615 the city was christened as Fernandez de Taos by the Spanish.  For more photos, please visit our country’s book of faces at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.


Latino Children in the War Information Photograph Collection

A young Latino boy poses for the Office of War Information Photograph Collection in Chamisal, New Mexico.  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 book of faces at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.

Hispanics during the Great Depression

Long before Facebook photos were posted willingly or images were taken covertly by the NSA, North Americans happily posed for photographers from the Office of War Information Photograph Collection.  The photos were taken as part of an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944, including the latter years of the Great Depression – Dorothea Lange’s iconic photo of the “Migrant Mother”, taken in 1936, is among them.  Hispanic Americans also participated in the national program.  The charming children of a Hispanic-American farmer in Amalia, New Mexico posed for this snapshot.  For more photos, please visit our country’s book of faces at the Library of Congress, www.LOC.gov.

Happy Birthday To Oralia Lillie Corrales

Happy Birthday to Oralia Lillie Corrales, who began her triumphant, generous and difficult journey in the world on July 5, 1940 in Midland, Texas. Corrales was a child farm worker, spending her early summers in the fields of California picking cotton, potatoes, grapes, and peaches.  She and her family traveled from one migrant camp to another, as her mother worked to support 16 children.  Corrales recalled having one school dress that she washed and ironed every day; her inspiration was a good-hearted teacher who complimented her on her appearance.  Corrales is now a community activist and successful businesswoman, while raising her own large family that includes her four children, two children of her deceased sister’s, and seven of her mother’s.  Corrales is an active member of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and was named Woman of the Year by Hispanic Magazine in 1986.

The Spanish Civil War Begins

Spain’s greatest modern tragedy began on July 17, 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War.  The War was viewed as one of the final post-World War II struggles between freedom and the Fascism that had cruelly gripped Europe for the War years.  Many idealistic young people traveled to Spain to fight against Fascism on the side of the Spanish Republic, including the North American volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and George Washington Brigade.  Fascism won, and the victorious Spanish general and dictator Francisco Franco remained in power for decades.

Happy Birthday to Oscar de la Renta

Perhaps it was growing up as the only son with six sisters, perhaps the art study in Madrid or the influence of the vibrant tropics in which he was raised … or each of these and more contributed to design the successful businessman, humanitarian and fashion rock star known as Oscar de la Renta.  A native of Santo Domingo, he was a household name in El Norte who dressed First Ladies of both political colors.  In Style magazine summarized the renowned designer as, “The name Oscar de la Renta is so lushly rhythmic that even women who own nothing more than his perfume spritz it with the confidence of knowing that these six melodious syllables ensure entrance into a world of limitless grace and polish.  After more than 30 years on and around Seventh Avenue, his presence is proof that a man can possess impeccable taste and manners without displaying the slightest trace of dandyism and also design unrepentantly feminine clothes without ever misreading the desires of today’s women.”  In 2014, Oscar departed from this world to dress the angels in celestial designs, which will never need to be dry cleaned.

Happy Birthday to Manuel Phillip Berriozábal

Happy Birthday to Manuel Phillip Berriozábal, an educator, mathematician, and humanitarian born on July 21, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas.  Berriozábal’s life is a passionate commitment to developing programs to help Hispanic and other minority students to stay in school and to succeed at higher level education.  His focus has been on mathematics, and in 1988, his findings were incorporated into a pilot program for freshman engineering students called ” The Texas Pre-freshman Engineering Program: A Model for a Statewide Precollege Intervention Program.”  Berriozábal also contributed to a task force that examined the problems posed for minority students in studying mathematics. His analysis was included in a 1989 paper titled “Why Hasn’t Mathematics Worked for Minorities?”

Happy Birthday to Patrick Fernandez Flores

Happy Birthday to humanitarian, educator and spiritual leader Patrick Fernandez Flores, born in Ganado, Texas on July 26, 1929.  Flores was the first Mexican American to rise to a high office in the Catholic Church in the US. From very humble beginnings that included cleaning a cantina (bar) to help support his family, he achieved his appointment as an Archbishop in 1979.  Throughout his service, he supported civil rights causes and inter-denominational programs, including less popular and controversial stances against guns and for strict accountability for priests accused of sexual abuse.  Known as the “mariachi bishop”, he honored his cultural heritage with a celebratory flair in his rites and services.  Flores retired in 2004.

Happy Birthday Rene Geronimo Favaloro

July 14, 1923 was the birthday of Rene Geronimo Favaloro, a pioneering heart surgeon, health care provider, and humanitarian.  Favaloro graduated from medical school in Argentina, and completed post graduate studies in Buenos Aires and the Cleveland Clinic.  Favaloro performed the world’s first documented heart bypass surgery in 1972.  His great heart was undone by his passionate commitment to providing free, quality healthcare services to Argentina’s poor.  Although he was celebrated by the world, he was not well recognized by the Argentine establishment, and his clinic, The Favaloro Foundation, became mired in financial difficulty as it served patients who could not pay. The distraught Favaloro took his own life in July 2000.

Happy Birthday to Jose Mendoza Lopez

July 10, 1910

July 10, 1910 is the birthday of the all-American medal of honor winner, Jose Mendoza Lopez, who was born in Mission, Texas, to Mexican parents.  Lopez’ father was killed in the Mexican Revolution, and his mother died when he was 8.   After a globe trotting tour as a boxer, Lopez joined the US Army in 1942.  He fought heroically at the Battle of the Bulge, single-handedly fighting off a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops.  Lopez was one of the 12 Latino World War II veterans to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military accolade.  With his prayers to the Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, Lopez returned safely home.  Lopez has been honored by several US Presidents and was also awarded Mexico’s highest military honor, la Condecoracion del Merito Militar.

Happy Birthday to Frida Kahlo

July 6, 1907

Frida Kahlo began her wildly imaginative, tragic, ingenious life on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico.  Kahlo’s grandfather was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant and her mother was Hispanic-Native American.   Her father recognized and encouraged her iconoclastic nature and intellectual curiosity.  Kahlo suffered terribly from physical ailments:  polio as a child, a horrific streetcar accident in 1922 that forced her to be bed ridden for months at a time, and several miscarriages during her marriage to Diego Rivera.  During these dark times she began to paint, producing dazzling and sometimes disturbing portraits of herself and her friends, hued in mythology and allegory.  Friend of the famous, her admirers were legion, and she was the “It” girl of the early 20th century, persisting through a difficult life with humor, intelligence and brilliance.

Happy Birthday to Pablo Neruda

July 12, 1904

Birthday of Pablo Neruda (1904 –1973), poet, political activist and diplomat, born in Parral, Chile.  He was elected as Senator in the Communist Party, and was forced into hiding and exile when the party was banned in Chile.   In 1952, his stay at an Italian villa on the island of Capri inspired the popular film “Il Postin”  (“The Postman”, 1994).  In 1971, Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his sometimes political and always beautiful and evocative poetry.

Puerto Rican Constitution Day

The Island of Puerto Rico was among the numerous battlefields in the Spanish American War.  US forces landed (or, invaded, depending on your point of view) on July 25, 1898, ending 400 years of Spanish rule.  This event is now celebrated in Puerto Rico as Constitution Day, honoring the Constitution that was adopted by the people of Puerto Rico in 1952.  The preamble of the Constitution of Puerto Rico begins, “We, the people of Puerto Rico, in order to organize ourselves politically on a fully democratic basis, to promote the general welfare, and to secure for ourselves and our posterity the complete enjoyment of human rights, placing our trust in Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the commonwealth which, in the exercise of our natural rights, we now create within our union with the United States of America.”

Spanish influence in the Union

July 3, 1890

On July 3, 1890, Idaho was admitted to the Union as the 43rd US state.   Joining the Americans in the celebrations were Idaho’s native citizens of Spanish Basque heritage.  Idaho has one of the largest concentrations of Spanish Basque populations outside of Spain.  The Basque region is in the northeast of Spain, where the Basques maintain their language, cultural identity, and some of the most marvelous food on either continent.  Spanish Basques immigrated to Idaho to work in the mining and livestock industries during the early 19th century.  A number of towns in Idaho are named in Spanish, including Alameda Arco, Orofino, Sana Gonanza, Acequia, Lorenzo, de Lamar, Mesa and Carmen.  (Photo from www.BasqueMuseum.com)

Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Spanish Writer

July 3, 1888

July 3, 1888 is the birthday of the prolific and poetic Spanish writer, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, born in Madrid, Spain.  While educated at the University of Madrid Law School, he chose another professional, gifting the world with one less lawyer and one more extraordinary literary talent.  Serna penned short stories, plays, novels, biographies, radio shows, and editorials.  A highlight of his writing was his innovation of the “gregueria”, which is magical blend of humor and metaphor forming semi-aphoristic phrases of dazzling poetic imagery.

Happy Birthday to Rojo

World peace, that lofty mission, was among the goals of Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo, a Spanish engineer, journalist, diplomat, politician, and professor.  Rojo was born on July 23, 1886 in La Coruña, Spain. He worked in the League of Nations, the unsuccessful precursor to the United Nations, in its work on disarmament. When the Spanish Civil War exploded in 1936, Rojo actively opposed the fascist Franco regime and was a leading proponent for international humanitarian intervention to stop the War. He later was a central figure in uniting the Spanish opposition in exile.  Throughout his political commitments, he continued to write novels, poetry, plays, essays, biographies, and historical works.

Hispanic Influence in the American Civil War

The Civil War raged through the Southwest as well as the South, and many Latinos fought to defend the USA.   The Battle of Honey Springs was the largest battle fought in the Native American national territories, on July 17, 1873.  Hispanic-American Colonel Leonidas M. Martin organized and led the 10th Texas Calvary, and later commanded the 5th Texas Partisan Rangers.  The Union Army won, and succeeded in disrupting Confederate supply lines in this area for the duration of the Civil War.

Death of an Honored General 1872

July 4, 1872

July 4, 1872 marked the death of US colonel Carlos Alvarez de la Mesa, a Spanish immigrant who fought at Gettysburg for the Union in the Garibaldi Guard.  He was wounded in the battle, and was medically discharged shortly afterwards.   His family donated over 200 letters that he wrote during the war to the New York State Military Museum.   Among tragic descriptions of war, he writes of his love for his American born wife, Fannie, “I love you Fannie! I love you more every day and every day that passes the more and more I feel it.” De la Mesa was the grandfather of Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, who served our country during World War II

Death of Joaquin Carrillo Murrieta

He died in a blaze of gunfire, and his severed head was preserved in a jar of alcohol while joyful bounty hunters collected their reward.  Or, maybe not.  No one seems to know the true history and fate of Joaquin Carrillo Murrieta, whose legend lives on from the vanished era of the California Gold Rush of the 1850s.  Depending on your point of view, he was he was either a Robin Hood or a ruthless outlaw.  The vague shadow of the story begins in the gold mining camps, where reportedly, Anglos robbed Murietta of his rightful claim and murdered his brother.   Murietta then went on a vengeful campaign robbing from the rich to give to the poor.  The Governor passed an act offering a $1,000 reward for the capture–dead or alive–of any Mexican named Joaquin, which we’d now call racial profiling on steroids.  (Please don’t tell this story to the Arizona State Legislature, it may give them ideas.)  A hired posse of Texas Rangers shot up and beheaded a Mexican named Joaquin, and the Governor claimed victory.  Did the Robin Hood of El Dorado really die that day?  Or did he live and laugh to a grand old age under the golden Mexican sun?

Burning of San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua

July 9, 1845

The earth shattering barrage continued from July 9 to July 15, 1854, as the US Navy bombarded and burned the town San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua.  The stated reason was to avenge an insult to the US Minister to Nicaragua.  The number of civilian casualties was not listed in our sources.  The carnage was publicized worldwide.  That must have been one hell of an insult.  (Image from Illustrated London News, 1854)


Marriage of Benito and Margarita Júarez, the President and First Lady of Mexico

Before there was Barack and Michelle or George and Laura, the admired power couple of the Americas was Benito and Margarita Júarez, the President and First Lady of Mexico.  The couple married on July 31, 1843 in Oaxaca, a province in southwestern Mexico on the Pacific Coast.  Benito Júarez is one of Mexico’s most revered presidents.  He was a Zapotec Indian who lifted himself up by his own bootstraps to achieve an education and pursue a distinguished legal and political career.  He challenged the privileged 1% of the Mexican economic elite, and worked for social justice. Margarita was at his side throughout his turbulent, idealistic political career, giving him the emotional support and inspiration that sustained him.

Death of Father Miguel Hidalgo

As bullets from the firing squad cracked the early morning air, Father Miguel Hidalgo, the rebel priest, crumbled to the desert earth.  Hidalgo is regarded as one of founders of modern Mexico.  Born to parents of Spanish heritage in Mexico, his assignment in the region of Dolores, Mexico, transformed him from social activist to military general.  He witnessed the terrible poverty of the indigenous people, and frustrated in his attempts to help them through agricultural development, he began the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821). He was betrayed, tried for treason, and executed.  Hidalgo’s final words rang true as his memory is honored throughout Mexico, “Though I may die, I shall be remembered forever; you all will soon be forgotten.”

Venezuelan Independence 1811

July 5, 1811

The South American democratic revolutions against the Spanish royalists gained momentum in the early 19th century.  On July 5, 1811, Venezuela declared independence from Spain, the first country on the southern continent to begin its liberation from colonial powers.  Venezuela had a difficult path to its independence.  The first Republic of Venezuela did not fully achieve victory until 10 years later, in 1821.  Venezuela is now a federal presidential republic of about 29 million people, comprised of 23 states, the Capital District of Caracas, and Federal Dependencies.

Spanish Influence in The American Revolutionary War

July 5, 1801

David Glasglow Farragut was born on July 5, 1801, to the son of Spanish immigrant and Revolutionary War soldier Jorge Farragut.   He began his service to his country in the War of 1812, and later hunted for the pirates of the Caribbean (the real sailing criminals, not Disney and Johnny Depp).  Farragut was the hero of two of the most important Union naval victories in the Civil War and was appointed as the US Navy’s first admiral in 1866.  He also served in the Mexican American War.  He is perhaps best remembered for his courageous tweet during the Battle of Mobile, when fighting in a dangerously mined harbor, “#DamntheTorpedoesFull SpeedAhead.

The US Marines builds to Diversity

July 11, 1798

In 1798, the Marines were looking for a few good men – unfortunately, very few.  On July 11, 1798, the US Marine Corps was reinstituted as a whites-only unit, with the provision that “no negro, mulatto or Indian to be enlisted”.  This policy remained in effect until 1942.  The 21st century Marine Corps has embraced diversity; one in every three Marines is now an ethnic minority, with Hispanics comprising 11.9% of the Corps.  (Image of US Marine Corps Lt. Col. Raphael Hernandez, with children Sarah and Dominic.)

Happy Birthday to Simon de Bolivar

As the Treaty of Paris was signed to end the American Revolutionary War and liberate the North American colonies, the infant Simon de Bolivar made his debut.  The man who became known as the “George Washington of South America” was born on July 24, 1783, in Caracas, Venezuela.  Bolivar had a complicated life, orphaned at an early age and later heartbreak over the death of his young wife.   In a trip to Paris to recover from his grief, he became reacquainted with his childhood tutor, who introduced him to ideas and people of the French Enlightenment that had influenced the North Americans.  Bolivar’s military campaigns freed the nations of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela from colonial domination.  His dreams of a closely allied confederation of South American republics sharing common political and economic goals were never achieved, and he died a disappointed man.

Spanish Aid to the American Revolutionary War

In July 1777 the Spanish ship “Salida Barra” departed from Spain to run the British blockade Spain to run the British blockade of the US rebel colonies.  The ship was carrying supplies for the rebels who were fighting in the American Revolutionary War.  The supplies included blankets, medicine, and cloth for uniforms.  Shipments were arranged by Diego Maria de Gardoqui, a Spanish merchant and first Ambassador from Spain to the US.  The supplies were paid for by the Spanish government.  Please visit www.OurAmericanHistory.com for more information on the contribution of the Spanish and Latinos to the success of the American Revolutionary War.

Creation of Old Spanish Trail 1776

July 4, 1776

As the ink began to dry on the US Declaration of Independence on the East Coast, two Spanish priests set off to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the California missions.  They were accompanied by a small number of explorers and a talented cartographer (that’s the guy who made the maps before Google).  The men traveled through Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.  The route that the party mapped eventually became the Old Spanish Trail, and later a well-used trade route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, California.   (Image from Utah.gov, painted by Paul Salisbury)

Founding of A Spanish Mission 1771

In the warm air of northern California, Spanish friar Junipero Serra founded his third mission of San Antonio de Padua on July 14, 1771.  The mission was developed as a working farm with gristmill and tannery.  After extensive refurbishments due to damage from an earthquake, it is now open as a church, retreat center, and museum.

Founding of the city of Córdoba, Argentina

July 6, 1573

The city of Córdoba, Argentina, was founded on July 6, 1573, by Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera.  Córdoba is located in the heart of Argentina, and the area was initially settled by the Comechingón nation.  Córdoba is the country’s second largest city and hosts Argentina’s second largest university.  The first Jesuit University in Argentina was established there in 1613, and this section of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  (Image by whc.unesco.org)

Founding of the Laguna province, Philippines

La Laguna encomienda, now known as the Laguna province in the Philippines, was founded on July 28, 1571 by the Spaniards.  La Laguna is one of the oldest provinces in the nation of the Philippines.  It is located southeast of the metropolis of Manila, the country’s capital.  The Spanish held power in the Philippines until the end of the Spanish American War in 1898, when the North Americans invaded.