World Story Telling Day

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)

Yale University returns Looted Art

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)

José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano, President of Uruguay

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.

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, First Woman President of Chile

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.

“A Beautiful Mind”

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.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

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.

“The Milagro Beanfield War”

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.

“Stand and Deliver”

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.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador

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.


Happy Birthday to “Texican” Eva Longoria

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.”

“Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez”

On March 21, 1973, the US Supreme Court decided the case of “Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez”.  The ruling concerned a lawsuit brought on behalf of schoolchildren in low income neighborhoods; the school district was 90% Hispanic and 6% African-American. The Supreme Court majority held that a school-financing system based on local property taxes was not an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. Dissenting Justice Thurgood Marshall, an African-American, argued that the courts not only needed to eliminate de jure segregation by race, but also curb the effects of de facto segregation by wealth. These high stakes, Justice Marshall wrote, made it imperative that education be deemed a fundamental right and wealth a suspect classification. (For an inspired story of Justice Thurgood Marshall’s life, please see the 2017 film, Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman (who also starred as 2018’s Black Panther hero.)

Roberto Clemente

On March 20, 1973, Major League Baseball star Roberto Clemente was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Clemente, a Puerto Rican, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for his entire 18-year baseball career (1955–72). He won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1966, and was selected to participate in the league’s All Star Game on 15 occasions. He also won 12 Gold Glove Awards and led the league in batting average in four different seasons.  He was well known for his humanitarian work in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries.  He was killed in 1972 in an airplane accident on his way to Nicaragua to assist earthquake victims.

The Queen of Reggaeton

March 4, 1972 is the birthday of Martha Ivelisse Pesante, known professionally as Ivy Queen, or the Queen of Reggaeton, a Puerto Rican music style.  Ivy released her first album with Sony International in 1997, titled “En Mi Emperio”.  Described in the Smithsonian’s American Sabor as “a socially conscious artist with supermodel looks”, Ivy has been nominated for a Grammy and released eight albums.   (Photo of Viva New York magazine cover)

Bianca Perez Morena de Macias

On March 12, 1971, Rolling Stone Mick Jagger married Nicaraguan Bianca Perez Morena de Macias, later known as Bianca Jagger.  After a few years as a glamorous Studio 54 girl, Bianca transformed herself into an advocate and activist for human rights.  She has campaigned for the cause of peace and social justice across the world, facing down El Salvadoran death squads and Serbian militants. Bianca has received numerous awards from international human rights, environmental, and social organizations.  She served as a Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, Trustee of the Amazon Charitable Trust, and on the advisory board of the Creative Coalition.

Ruben Quintero, PhD, a Soldier and a Scholar

“Had I been sprawled just a foot more to my left on the morning of March 7, 1970, while receiving hostile fire from somewhere within the canopied, high-land growth of Phuoc Long [Vietnam], my name would be black-marbled on … the Vietnam War Memorial, along with more than 58,000 other names.” This begins the account of Ruben Quintero, soldier turned scholar, of his service in Vietnam. Dr. Quintero’s harrowing and heroic account was published in the ‘Viet Nam War Generation Journal’ in April 2002. Dr. Quintero earned his BA at California State University Los Angeles and his PhD from Harvard University. He now teaches in the Department of English at his undergraduate alma mater in Los Angeles.

Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem, Award-winning Actor

March 1, 1969 is the birthday of Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem, a Spanish actor.  Bardem won an Academy Award for his role in “No Country for Old Men.”  Bardem has also won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA, five Goya awards, two European Film Awards … and we’re running out of bits and bytes.  We think that he deserves an award for his recent interview in Esquire Magazine. Commenting on medical research doctors, Bardem said, “These are the guys you should be writing about. They should be on the cover of your magazine. They save lives. I only make movies. The world is a funny place. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Alfred Rascon, US Army Medic

On March 16, 1966, Alfred Rascon, a Latino US Army medic, distinguished himself by a series of extraordinarily courageous acts.  Rascon was assigned as a medic to the 503rd Infantry in the Vietnam War (1955-1975).  During a deadly barrage of enemy gunfire and grenades, he rescued and aided his fellow soldiers.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, which was belatedly bestowed on him by President Bill Clinton.

Bloody Sunday

On March 7, 1965, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and freedom fighters across the US rallied in Selma, Alabama, to march for civil rights, open and fair voter registration, and an end to segregation.  The day became “Bloody Sunday” as the 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with vicious dogs, heavy clubs and stinging tear gas. This march was the first of three; during the third rally on March 21, Latino and Asian civil rights activists marched with the African-Americans.

Taco Bell

On March 21, 1962, North American Glen Bell founded Taco Bell in Downey, California, and the North American public has confused its offerings with Hispanic food ever since.  Taco Bell serves fast food tacos, burritos, and other menu items to more than 2 billion consumers annually in 5,800 restaurants in the US.  Over 80% of Taco Bell restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees.  The company has introduced memorable advertising campaigns featuring Mexican Chihuahuas dressed as two legged Mexican revolutionaries.

Happy Birthday to Jorge Ramos

Happy Birthday to outspoken journalist, writer, and highly successful news anchor, Jorge Ramos. Ramos was born on March 16, 1958 in Mexico City, Mexico. After a dispute over censorship on social issues in Mexico, he immigrated in 1983 to the Republic of California. He has built his career working for prestigious companies such as Univisión. In 1986, he became one of the youngest national media anchors in US history. He is the author of several books, including “What I Saw” (“Lo Que Vi”) and “La Otra Cara de América” (“The Other Face of America”). (Image from

“Salt of the Earth”

March 14, 1954, was the release date of the classic movie, “Salt of the Earth”.  The movie was based on the long, difficult strike in 1951 against the Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico.  The actual miners and their families starred in the film.  The producers, director, and the movie were blacklisted during the 1950’s McCarthy anti-communist campaign.  The movie begins with the words of the Latina heroine: “How shall I begin my story that has no beginning? My name is Esperanza, Esperanza Quintero. I am a miner’s wife. This is our home. The house is not ours. But the flowers… the flowers are ours. This is my village. When I was a child, it was called San Marcos. The Anglos changed the name to Zinc Town. Zinc Town, New Mexico, U.S.A. Our roots go deep in this place, deeper than the pines, deeper than the mine shaft…”  (Photo from movie.)

Julia Alvarez, Award Winning Writer

Happy birthday to writer, poetry and essayist Julia Alvarez. Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950; her parents were political refugees from the Dominican Republic. Her more prominent novels include “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” (1991), “In the Time of the Butterflies”(1994), and “Yo!” (1997). Alvarez’s work centers on the challenges of culture, immigration, and assimilation. Her novel “In the Time of the Butterflies” is a fictionalized account of the resistance by the Mirabel sisters to the Dominican military dictatorship (see November 25). This book was later made into a Hollywood film starring Selma Hayek. Alvarez has received numerous awards for her work.

The American GI Forum

On March 26, 1948, Dr. Hector P. Garcia founded the American GI Forum, with the motto, “Education is Our Freedom and Freedom should be Everybody’s Business”.  Dr. Garcia formed AGIF to address the needs of Mexican American veterans of World War II (1939 – 1945), who were not receiving medical treatment.  AGIF expanded its mission to encompass non-veterans’ issues such as voting rights, jury selection, and educational desegregation, advocating for the civil rights of all Mexican Americans. Today, the AGIF advocates on behalf of all Hispanic veterans.

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

On March 29, 1946, the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México was founded with the mission of creating a society that was more free, more just, and more prosperous. ITAM is one of the Mexico’s leading universities, offering specializations in accounting, economics, applied mathematics, and international relations, among other subjects.  ITAM is located on two campuses in Mexico City. ITAM As part of its executive and continuing education commitment, ITAM is part of UNICON (International University Consortium for Executive Education), which is also affiliated with Harvard University, the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and Stanford University.

Why We Love New York!

On March 12, 1945, the state governor of New York signed in to law the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill.  New York became the first state to enact legislation prohibiting the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, religion, or creed.  This law was modeled on the policies of the Fair Employment Practices Commission, created by President Roosevelt on June 25, 1941.

“La Casa de Bernarda Alba”

On March 6, 1945, Federico Garcia Lorca’s play “La Casa de Bernarda Albapremiered in Argentina.  Lorca was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director who traveled in the US and South America.  His book of poetry, ”Gypsy Ballads”, was selected by Le Monde, a leading French newspaper, as one of the 100 books of the 20th Century.  Lorca was murdered in circumstances that are still disputed; one conjecture is that he was shot by the anti-communist death squads during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939).

Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez, Nobel Prize Winner

March 19, 1943 is the birthday of Mexican scientist Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez, who was a co-recipient of the Noble Prize for Chemistry in 1995.  Henríquez is the first Mexican born scientist to achieve a Noble Prize in Chemistry.  Henríquez’s contribution is in the domain of climate change and the environment; he researched and proved the threat of chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs) to the earth’s ozone layer. (But please don’t tell President Trump that a Mexican scientist was a contributor in the confirmation of the impact of climate change.)

Raul Julia, Award-winning Actor and Humanitarian

March 9, 1940 is the birthday of Puerto Rican humanitarian, activist and actor, Raúl Rafael Juliá y Arcelay, known as Raul Julia (1940-1994).  Julia starred on Broadway, on television, and in Hollywood films, with work that ranged from Shakespearean drama to the Addams Family comedy.  He earned numerous nominations and awards from the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and the Emmys.  He sponsored young actors and writers and encouraged Hispanic artists and filmmakers.  He supported The Hunger Project and served as chairman of the Joseph Papp Celebrity Coalition for Racial Harmony.

Richard A. Tapia, Mathematician and Educator

Happy Birthday to Richard A. Tapia, a noted mathematician and educator, born in Santa Monica, California on March 25, 1939. Tapia’s parents were immigrants from Mexico. He earned a BA, MA, and Ph D from the University of California at Los Angeles. Among other numerous awards, Tapia was named one of the twenty most influential leaders in minority mathematics education in 1990. He is the author of more than 80 technical papers as well as a textbook.

Alfredo Zitarrosa, Singer, Songwriter, Poet and Journalist

March 10, 1936 is the birthday of Alfredo Zitarrosa, a singer, songwriter, poet, and journalist from Uruguay.   His birth and childhood were complicated; he was adopted shortly after he was born, but later in life lived with his birth mother and her family.  He began his career as a radio broadcaster and actor, and later launched a career as a singer.  His style was influenced by milongas, folkloric music from the countryside of the Rio de la Plata in Argentina and Uruguay.   During the time of the brutal military dictatorships, his work was banned in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.  He made a triumphant return to Buenos Aires in 1984, several years before his death in 1989.

Diego does Detroit!

On March 13, 1933, Mexican artist Diego Rivera completed “Detroit Industry”, which Rivera considered to be his greatest mural in the US.  Rivera, a member of the Mexican Communist Party, was a great admirer of the city of Detroit and its industrial strength.  The Detroit Institute of Arts commissioned Rivera to paint the series of three murals, which took over a year to finish.  Among his other accomplishments, Rivera was married to the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

Cesar Chavez, UFW Co-Founder

March 31, 1927 is the birthday of the Latino civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez (1927-1993).  Chavez, a Mexican American migrant worker and labor leader, was born in Yuma, Arizona.  Together with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW).  Chavez, the UFW, and millions of North American consumers launched a five year boycott against grape growers to improve the conditions of migrant workers. With their campaign of slogan of “
Sí, se puede” (which translates to “Yes, we can”, a theme of the 2012 and 2016 US Presidential campaigns), Chavez and Huerta promoted nonviolent campaigns for the rights of workers.

Gabriel Jose Garcia Marquez (1927 – 2014)

Happy birthday to the legendary story teller and literary genius, Gabriel Jose Garcia Marquez (1927-2014).  Marquez was born on March 6, 1927 in Aracataca, Colombia, a small town on the Caribbean coast.  Marquez was raised by his maternal grandparents, who encouraged his creativity with stories of local history and a supernatural view of reality.  His novels include, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”; the latter was recreated as a film in 2007, starring Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt.  Marquez won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982.  In awarding the prize, the Nobel Academy highlighted Marquez’s narrative gifts and his demonstrated commitment to social justice.

Guy Louis Gabaldon, US Marine

March 22, 1926 is the birthday of Guy Louis Gabaldon, a US Marine who was a hero of the 1944 Battle of Saipan in World War II (1939 – 1945).  During his troubled youth, the Mexican-American Gabaldon was adopted by a Japanese-American family.  Gabaldon later used his knowledge of Japanese language and culture to persuade about 1,500 Japanese soldiers and civilians to surrender.  He was awarded the Navy Cross Medal.  Gabaldon’s story was memorialized in the 1960 Hollywood film, “Hell to Eternity”.

Carlos Roberto Reina, President of Honduras

March 13, 1926 is the birthday of Carlos Roberto Reina, the Honduran politician, law professor, and editor who rose from political prisoner to President of Honduras. Reina was elected in 1993, and worked to keep his election promises to crack down on corruption and reduce the power of the military. As part of the latter policy, he eliminated mandatory military service. He married a North American woman, Bessie Watson.  Reina was a law professor for 30 years, and after his presidency, he served as a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. (Photo UN / Ron Silva)

Another Invasion of Mexico (1916)

On March 15, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson sent 4,800 US troops across the US – Mexican border in pursuit of Mexican revolutionary leader, Pancho Villa.  The US Troops were undocumented and uninvited.  The incident occurred during the Mexican Revolution, and was in retaliation for Villa’s raids in New Mexico and the killing of sixteen employees of ASARCO, a mining company based in Tucson, Arizona.   The US government backed Villa’s rival, Venustiano Carranza.

Octavio Paz, Writer, Political Activist, and Diplomat

March 31, 1914 is the birthday of Octavio Paz, a Mexican writer, political activist, diplomat, poet, and Noble Prize Laureate for Literature.  Paz spent extensive time in the US, including during his parents’ political exile, as a student at the University of California, Berkeley, as a lecturer at Harvard, and in the diplomatic service in New York.  Among his many brilliant works is “El Laberinto de la Soledad” (“The Labyrinth of Solitude”), a groundbreaking study of Mexican identity and thought, which is available in English.

The US invades Honduras … again!

On March 18, 1907, US troops invaded Honduras, which they occupied until June 8, without proper documents or visas.  The troops were supposed to be there to “protect American interests” during a war between Honduras and Nicaragua.  The undocumented troops were stationed in Trujillo, Ceiba, Puerto Cortez, San Pedro, Laguna and Choloma.

US Marines invade the Dominican Republic, again

On March 30, 1903, the US Marines landed in the Dominican Republic to “protect American interests” in the city of Santo Domingo during a period of political turmoil. (We can’t help but wonder how the US Army would have reacted if the Dominican Army landed during Occupy Wall Street in 2011, to “protect Dominican interests”?  Lots of Dominican-Americans live in New York?  But, we digress.)  The undocumented Marines occupied the city until April 21, 1903.  Please note that this political cartoon is from 1904, but since it was such a compelling image, we’ve included it for 1903.  The image shows US President Theodore Roosevelt and his political strategy to carry a “Big Stick” of military might in the Caribbean.

The Banana Wars

On March 23, 1903, undocumented US troops invaded in Honduras.  Their mission was to “protect the American consulate and the steamship wharf” at Puerto Cortez during a period of revolutionary activity.  During the late 19th century, US multinationals such as the United Fruit Company, later known as Chiquita Brands International, had invested heavily in banana plantations and their supporting infrastructure.  In his book, “Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped The World”, author Peter Chapman wrote that the company was “more powerful than many nation states … a law unto itself and accustomed to regarding the [Central American national] republics as its private fiefdom.”

Another US Invasion of a Sovereign South American Nation

On March 8, 1895, US troops landed at Bocas del Toro, undocumented and uninvited.  Bocas del Toro was then part of the sovereign nation of Colombia.  As usual, the US government stated that the reason for landing was to “protect American interests”.  (Honestly, we think that excuse is getting old.)  Bocas del Toro is now part of Panama. (Map by Alexander Karnstedt)

Francisco Antonio Manzanares, New Mexican Delegate 1884

Francisco Antonio Manzanares began his short term as New Mexican Delegate to the US House of Representatives on March 5, 1884. Manzanares was a successful businessman and entrepreneur who greatly contributed to the economic development of New Mexico and the southwest. He worked to develop the retail, railroad and banking industries, including the establishment of branches of the First National Bank in the cities of Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Raton.


On March 3, 1875, Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” premiered in Paris.  The story is set in Seville, Spain, in the early 19th century, and the protagonist is Carmen, a beautiful, free-spirited gypsy with a fiery temper.  She seduces a naïve soldier, and events soon spiral to ruin them both.  The very popular opera quickly established the stereotype of the hot-tempered Latina femme fatale that still endures in the 21st century (which will hopefully be the last and final century for the persistence of this unfortunate stereotype).

Starting the Mexican-American War

On March 4, 1849, Zachary Taylor was sworn in as the 12th President of the US.  He was the last North American President to own African-American slaves while in office.  Earlier, under orders of the previous President James Polk, Taylor positioned US troops on Mexican territory to provoke the Mexicans into war (which would be known in the 21st century as “meddling” in Mexican elections). Taylor and Polk soon succeeded in their Grand Theft, and the Mexican-American war began in 1846.

The United States of Mexico

On March 10, 1848, the US Senate ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which formally ended the Mexican-American War.  Depending on your point of view, Mexico either lost about 55% its territory to the US in this War, or the US stole about 55% of Mexico from the Mexicans.  (Image of the United States of Mexico in 1846, from the David Rumsey Map Collection.)

The Siege of Veracruz

On March 9, 1847, the twenty-day Siege of Veracruz began, one of the key battles in the Mexican-American War.  Major General Winfield Scott led the US troops.  The troops began to build a siege line around the city, and soon started the artillery bombardment.  On March 25, Mexican officials requested that women, children, and noncombatants be allowed to leave the city.  Scott refused, and continued to shell the town and the innocent civilians.   One foreign observer living in Veracruz wrote that “… about four thousand bombs have fallen on a city that does not have more than 1200 houses.  The bombardment has been so destructive that Veracruz is at present a pile of ruins….” An estimated 1,000 civilians were killed during the bombardment.  The Mexicans formally surrendered on March 28.

Florida as US State

After centuries of Spanish rule, Florida was admitted as the 27th US state on March 3, 1845.  Florida was first sighted by the Spanish in 1513, who named the land “La Florida”, the flowery land.  The Spanish established Saint Augustine in 1565, which is the oldest European settlement in North America, predating the Jamestown 1607 settlement.  According to the 2010 US Census, Hispanics comprise 22.5% of the population.  The Florida State Flag is based on the Viceroyalty of New Spain flag that waved from the 16th to 19th centuries.

Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez

March 22, 1841 is the birth date of Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican who volunteered to serve in the Union Army during the North American Civil War (1861-1865).  Rodríguez defended Washington, DC, against Confederate attacks, and led his men in battle at Fredericksburg and Wyse Fork.

The Voyage of “The Evolution of the Species”

Charles Darwin, the evolutionary biologist and writer, spent substantial time in South and Central America observing nature to formulate his important work, “The Evolution of the Species”.  The birds and reptiles on the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, were of particular interest to Darwin.  Darwin sailed around Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire), at the tip of South America.  On March 7, 1835, Darwin returned from Concepcion to Valparaiso, Chile.

A Message from Monroe

Fortunately, during at least the 18th Century, US Presidents issued dignified and respectful statements about South American sovereignty, in sharp contrast to our 21st Century Tweeter-in-Chief.  On March 8, 1822, President James Monroe sent a message to Congress demanding recognition of five Spanish American nations: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.  In his message, Monroe wrote, “The revolutionary movement in the Spanish Provinces in this hemisphere attracted the attention and excited the sympathy of our fellow-citizens from its commencement. This feeling was natural and honorable to them, from causes which need not be communicated to you. It has been gratifying to all to see the general acquiescence which has been manifested in the policy which the constituted authorities have deemed it proper to pursue in regard to this contest.”

Brigadier General Diego Archuleta (1814)

March 27, 1814 is the birthday of Diego Archuleta, the first Latino to achieve the rank of Brigadier General in the US armed forces.  Archuleta was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  During the Mexican American War, Archuleta fought with Mexico against the US.  During the US Civil War, he joined the Union troops against the Confederates.  Archuleta fought as part of the New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, and participated in the Battle of Valverde on February 21, 1862.

US Foreign Aid to Venezuela 1812

On March 26, 1812, a devastating earthquake rocked Caracas, Venezuela and its first independent government. The quake struck on the morning of Holy Thursday, as Venezuelans prepared for the holiday.  The devastation seriously impacted the First Republic of Venezuela, which lasted from 19 April 1810 to 25 July 1812.  Francisco de Miranda was one of the leaders of this First Republic.  In response to the quake, the US Congress sent its first foreign aid, about $50,000 in food, to assist the Venezuelan people.

Commander Mathias de Gálvez

On March 16, 1782, Spanish troops under the command of Mathias de Gálvez, father of Bernard de Gálvez, defeated British troops in Honduras.  At that time, the British were very busy with illegal logging operations in Honduras.  The Spanish declared war on the British in 1779, and their military campaign in the southern theater was fought from Honduras and other nations in Central America across the Gulf Coast to the Siege at Pensacola, Florida.  This war effort diverted British troops and resources from the North American rebels fighting in the southern US colonies.

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration in the American Revolutionary War

On March 17, 1780, George Washington declared one of the earliest celebrations of Saint Patrick’s Day in the US as our country struggled with the rebellion against the British. The Army was in winter camp at Morristown, New Jersey, during some of the coldest days of the Revolutionary War.  The Continental Army included large numbers of Irish volunteers, and Washington wanted to honor these men.  An estimated 40% of the Continental Army troops were immigrants, who were truly committed to their new country.

Bernardo de Galvez captures the British Fort Charlotte

On March 14, 1780, Spanish Army soldiers and local volunteers led by Bernardo de Galvez captured the British Fort Charlotte in Mobile, Alabama.  This victory was part of Galvez’s sweep from New Orleans, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida.  The Spanish forces effectively diverted many British Army troops from fighting against the US Continental Army in the southern colonies during the American Revolutionary War.  The British were attempting to divide the rebels into northern and southern territories.

Spanish Aid to the norteamericano rebels

On March 25, 1777, the American ship, Tabby, with Captain Hodges departed from Spain to the US, carrying supplies to the rebels.  The ship brought blankets, quinine (medicine), and cloth for uniforms.  The shipments were arranged by Spanish Basque merchant Diego Maria de Gardoqui, and the supplies were paid for by the Spanish government.  Meanwhile, back in the colonies, the rebels continued to struggle with securing and maintaining supplies.  On March 23, 1777, a British raiding party of 10 ships sailed up the Hudson River and attacked an American supply base in New York, destroying a large quantity of Continental Army supplies. This was one of many raids by the British to destroy the weak rebel supply lines, and the shipment was one of many from Spain and South America to support the desperate US Continental Army.

Spanish aid during the American Revolutionary War (1776-1781)

On March 10, 1777, Spanish Minister  José Moñino, conde de Floridablanca, wrote a secret dispatch concerning Spain’s support of the North American rebels in the struggle against Britiain, “the fate of the colonies interests us very much, and we shall do for them everything that circumstances permit….”   Moñino also discussed the steady flow of aid and military supplies that Spain was sending through Louisiana and directly from Spain’s northeastern ports, as well as financing through letters of credit in the Netherlands through Dutch banks.  This Spanish assistance was critical in helping the US to win the American Revolutionary War.

The Founding of San Francisco

On c28, 1776, Hispanic-American explorer Juan Bautista de Anza selected the site for the Presidio in San Francisco, California.   The Presidio, or fortress, was built later in September of that year, and served as an important location for the Spanish colonization of California.   Anza and his expeditionary forces traveled from Mexico to San Francisco from 1774 to 1776.  Today the Presidio is maintained in a national park in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The Louisiana Territories

On March 5, 1766, Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Girault (1716 –1795) administered the transfer of the Louisiana territories from the French to the Spanish.  Ulloa was a Spanish general, explorer, author, astronomer, colonial administrator and the first Spanish governor of Louisiana.  He accomplished scientific research in Peru, and published “Relación histórica del viaje á la América Meridiona”, about the geography, natural history and Native Americans in South America. During the American Revolutionary War, Ulloa also aided the norteamericano rebels with desperately needed supplies of gunpowder.

Francisco Goya, with an Original Selfie

On May 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Spain, Francisco Goya (1746-1828) began his passionate, talented life. Goya was one of Spain’s most influential and prominent artists, whose paintings, graphics, and drawings often defied the conventionality of the 18th century. The Italian notion of beauty had dominated European art, and Goya fearlessly introduced human images of cruelty, madness, and war. He scandalized Spain with his portrait of “La maja desnuda” (“The Maja Unclothed”), scorning the prohibition of the Inquisition against nudity in paintings. His influence over artistic thought and technique continues to this day.

Alonzo Cano, Spanish Architect, Artist and Sculptor

On March 19, 1601, Spanish architect, artist, and sculptor Alonzo Cano began his brilliant, tempestuous life.  He was an artist in the royal court.  The Spanish King appointed him as chief architect of the cathedral in Granada, Spain.  Cano added Baroque architecture to the exterior facade, as well as Baroque sculpture in the interior.

Salvador da Bahia (1546)

On March 29, 1546, the city of Salvador da Bahia was founded.  Salvador de Bahia was the first capital of Brazil and is one of the oldest European cities in the Americas.   As of 1558, the city was the first slave market in the New World, with slaves kidnapped from Africa and sold for brutal work on the sugar plantations and other forms of labor. In 1985, UNESCO designated the city as a World Heritage Site; many of the city’s Renaissance mansions are still preserved. (Please note: Image is from the Slave Market in Valongo in 1830, but it was the closest depiction of an early Brazilian slave market that we could locate. If you have a better suggestion, please contact us at Thank you.)

“To have courage for whatever comes in life”

March 28, 1515 is the birthday of Theresa of Avila, the Spanish mystic, nun, writer, and saint.  Her famous literary works are the autobiographical, El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), and Camino de Perfección (The Way of Perfection), which delineated her profound thoughts on prayer and meditation.  The thoughts of her heart that she described in her writing include:  “It is love alone that gives worth to all things” and “To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.”  Amen to that.