Temple of the Sun 2360 BC

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.

Mayan Fire Ritual

In the beautiful tropical forests of Belize, Mayan scribes wrote of a fire ritual, which they described in 24 pictographs of their complex language.  The writers were of the late classical period, and the date referenced is 11 Ajaw 18 Mak, which corresponds to October 7, 790 in the Western Calendar.  This date occurred during the Late Classic period of the Mayan civilization.  Please visit the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI) at www.FAMSI.org for more information.

The Feast of Italian Saint Francis of Assisi

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.  (Image by Caravaggio, 1595)

“Lanzate/Take Off” Education Travel Award

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)

Festival Internacional Cervantino

To thunderous applause, the Festival Internacional Cervantino began its annual program of theater, music and culture in the beautiful city of Guanajuato, Mexico.   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.

Opening of Cesar E. Chavez National Monument

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)

Javier Miyares was appointed as President of UMUC

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)

Fighting for the DREAM

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.  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.”

33 Chilean Miners Rescued

To cheers and 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, we 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)

Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa awarded Nobel Prize

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 Secure Fence Act of 2006

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 impoverished men and women desperate to work for $7.15 an hour mowing lawns and cleaning toilets to support their impoverished families.

“For Love or Country”

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.

Octavio Paz, Nobel Prize Winner

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.”

“The House of the Spirits”

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 Latino available for casting as a Latino.

Defeat of a Dictator and His Party

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. 

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President Oscar Arias wins Nobel Peace Prize

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.”

“Flamenco Puro”

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.)

Nicaraguan Presidential: Daniel Ortega

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 charged 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, and is still in office as of this digital copy.

Alberto Salazar, Marathon Man

To the cheers of roaring fans, Latino 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.)

Edward Hidalgo, First Latino US Secretary of the Navy

On October 24, 1979, Edward Hidalgo was sworn in as the first Latino US Secretary of the Navy.  Hidalgo was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and immigrated as a young child with his family.  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.

Maria Joselina Garcia Cobos, Miss Honduras 1997

Happy Birthday to Maria Joselina Garcia Cobos, born October 31, 1978, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  In 1997, 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”.

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

The island nation of Trinidad and Tobago became a 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.  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 Plácido Enrique Polanco

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.

Luis Walter Alvarez, Noble Prize Winner

On October 30, 1968, the Nobel Committee announced that its Prize for Physics was awarded to Luis Walter Alvarez, a native Californian whose grandfather had emigrated from Spain.  Alvarez earned his B Sc, M Sc, and Ph D from the University of Chicago.  According to the Committee, Alvarez achieved the Nobel Prize for his “decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his development of the technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis”.

Lieutenant Colonel Omar Torrijos takes power in Panama

After the election of Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid as President of Panama, the Panamanian National Guard staged a coup against Arias on October 11, 1968.  The coup was led by then Lieutenant Colonel Omar Torrijos, which was the starting point of Torrijos’ career as a politician.  Under the military’s control, Panama initiated land redistribution, encouraged self-sufficiency for small farmers, and expanded educational opportunities.  One of Torrijos’ most dramatic achievements, supported by the military, was the renegotiation of the Panama Canal treaty, which returned the territory to Panamanian control.  Reviled by some and praised by many, Torrijos was a complex personality.  In the words of one biographer, “Any man who could claim both Fidel Castro and John Wayne as friends had to possess considerable charm.”  (Please see February 13 for more on the life of Omar Torrijos.)

Alberto Daire, Entrepreneur Extraordinaire

Happy Birthday to Alberto Daire, President and COO of Liberty Power, born in Miami, Florida on October 22, 1967.  Daire’s parents were from Cuba; his grandfather emigrated from Lebanon.   Daire earned a BS from the University of Miami in Florida and an MBA from the University of North Carolina.  Daire co-founded Liberty Power in 2001. Liberty Power is an electricity retailer that offers low-cost electricity and exceptional customer service.  The company is licensed to sell power in a number of states on the East Coast and in the Midwest.  In counseling young Latinos on success, Daire emphasizes hard work and education.  “My grandfather had to start over to support the family. He took a job at a picture frame manufacturing company. He taught me to be persistent and humble and to be grateful to this country.”

Happy Birthday to Ruben Sierra

Happy birthday to Major League Baseball outfielder Ruben Sierra, born on October 6, 1965 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.  His life had a rough start; his father was killed in a car accident when Sierra was 4, and his mother worked as a janitor to support her family.  He signed with the Texas Rangers when he was 20 years old in 1985.  Sierra’s career has had ups and downs, but he bounced back to win American League Comeback Player of the Year in 2001.

Passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the US Congress placed a limitation on the number of immigrants allowed in from the Western Hemisphere, for the first time in our history.  (For those of us who are geographically challenged, the Western Hemisphere includes certain countries in Europe as well as South and Central America.  Yes, yes, we know that they’re South, not West.  We didn’t define this stuff.)  This Act abolished the national origins quota system that had ruled US immigration policy since the 1920s, replacing it with a preference system based on immigrants’ skills and family relationships with US citizens or residents.

Sonia Marie de León de Vega, Musician, Composer and Conductor

Happy Birthday to musician, composer and conductor Sonia Marie de León de Vega, born on October 16, 1964, in San Antonio, Texas.  Vega was inspired at an early age while listening to her first symphony by the famous German composer, Ludwig Von Beethoven.  Her father, also a musician, bought her a piano for $50 when she was five years old. In 1986, Vega was invited by the Vatican to conduct at Saint Peter’s Basilica, the first woman to receive this honor.  In 1992, she founded the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, named for the patron of musicians and dedicated to the memory of her father.  Her mission with this Orchestra is to provide opportunities for Latino children to learn and appreciate classical music.

Day 13, Final Day of 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 13, the final day of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother, personally delivered the President’s letter to the Russian ambassador in Washington.  The formal agreement was to refrain from attacking or invading Cuba, and the US nuclear weapons in Turkey were quietly dismantled in the following months.  In response, the Russians began dismantling and packing up their nuclear weapons to return home.  The crisis was finally resolved on October 28, 1962.  Both the Russians and the Americans were shaken by the experience, and the following year, a direct “hot line” communication link was installed between Washington and Moscow to help defuse similar situations.  For a detailed day-by-day account of the crisis from the American perspective, please visit www. JFKLibrary.org.   (Image of an amiable meeting between Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F. Kennedy.)

Day 12, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27, Day 12 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  As the world continued to wait and worry, American planes and ships continued to fly into Cuban skies and seas.  On October 27, a US Air Force spy plane was shot down over Cuba, and the pilot was killed.  As then US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara recalled later, “I thought it was the last Saturday I would ever see.”  Behind the scenes, however, the feverish diplomatic bargaining continued, with Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev again proposing peace if the US would promise not to invade Cuba and to dismantle US missiles in Turkey.   The image shows the predicted range that the Russian nuclear weapons could reach if fired from Cuba.  (Image from John F. Kennedy Library, www.jfklibrary.org)

Day 9, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 9 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The Russian leader during the Crisis was Nikita Khrushchev, and he responded directly to President Kennedy’s ultimatum to remove the Russian missiles in a letter of October 24, 1962.  Khrushchev had a much different perspective than Kennedy as to the rights of sovereign nations, including the rights of Cuba.  Perhaps thinking of the US nuclear missiles near his Russian homeland, he wrote “Imagine, Mr. President, what if we were to present to you such an ultimatum as you have presented to us by your actions.  How would you react to it?  I think you would be outraged at such a move on our part.  And this we would understand.”  The Americans and the Russians continued their dangerously close and aggressive maneuvers in the skies and seas of Cuba.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, American and Russian officials worked feverishly to end the frighteningly dangerous escalation.  (Getty Images of a US warplane flying perilously close to a Russian freighter.)

Day 8, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 8 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The US and Russian governmental delegations argued over the crisis at the United Nations.  The blockade of Cuba had started, with US ships and planes encircling the island. President Fidel Castro of Cuba responded on television to Kennedy’s broadcast from the previous day.   Many voices called for sanity, including an organization called the “Women Strike for Peace” (the spiritual precursors of Code Pink), who carried placards outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Day 7, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 7 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  In a dramatic televised address to the nation, President John F. Kennedy spoke to the American people about the crisis.  Kennedy and his advisors had decided to blockade Cuba until the Russians removed the nuclear missiles that they had positioned in Cuba.   People feared for the worst, and churches and schools began to stockpile canned food and children practiced air raid drills.  The world seemed to be on the verge of fiery nuclear destruction.  The US negotiators waited for the response from the Russian premier, Nikita Khrushchev. (Please see October 16 for Day 1 of the Crisis).

Day 1 of 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Day 1 of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The US CIA had invaded Cuba in 1961, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.  The following year, the Russian government, which was an ally of the Cubans, decided to place nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter further US invasions.  (And the fact that the US had placed nuclear missiles in Turkey within firing range of Russia was another incentive.)  A US spy plane flying over Cuba photographed the Russian missile placement, and President John F. Kennedy was briefed on this activity on October 16, 1962.  This started the diplomatic battle and potential nuclear catastrophe that became known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis.”  Please keep reading for day-by-day updates on the crisis through its resolution on October 28, 1962.

Cuban Missile Crisis: Fallout Shelters

On October 6, 1961, US President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build fallout shelters to protect them from nuclear radiation.   The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization published a 32-page guide to building a cozy Do-It-Yourself family shelter that was really supposed to protect people from nuclear devastation. Our coverage of the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis begins on October 16. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the most dangerous confrontations of the Cold War, as Kennedy and Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev sparred over the Russians placement of missiles in Cuba.  At that time, the US had nuclear missiles positioned in Turkey within equally close range of Russia, but never mind all that. (For a funny and sane perspective of this time of nuclear madness, please see the 1990 film “Waiting for the Light”, starring Shirley MacLaine of “Downtown Abbey” fame.  Trust us on this one.)

Happy Birthday Carlos Ismael Noriega

Happy Birthday to NASA astronaut and US Marine Corps officer Carlos Ismael Noriega, born on October 8, 1959, in  Lima, Peru.  Noriega earned a BS at the University of Southern California and two MS degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School.  During Noriega’s career at NASA, he accomplished two spaceflight missions, logging over 481 hours in space, including over 19 hours on three spacewalks. On his 1997 space mission, he participated on the space shuttle to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station, Mir.  Back on earth, one of his most important missions is as the father of five children.

“I Love Lucy”

We all loved American comedienne Lucille Ball and her Cuban-born husband, Desi Arnaz, who premiered in their wildly popular, long-running TV series, “I Love Lucy” on October 15, 1951.  “I Love Lucy” was the most watched show in the US for four of its six seasons.  In their roles of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, the two mirrored their off-screen lives, with Ricky in the role of Latino band leader and immigrant determined to be successful in the American music scene, and Lucy determined to be a star performer in music and dance.  At that time, Latinos did not star on prime time American television in a positive, starring role.  The couple was honored with a US Postage Stamp, among many other accolades.

Organization of Central American States, 1951

On October 14, 1951, the governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua signed a treaty creating the Organization of Central American States (Organización de Estados Centroamericanos, ODECA).  The purpose of ODECA was to promote regional cooperation, integrity and unity in Central America.  ODECA evolved into the Central American Integration System (SITA), with the ratification of the Tegucigalpa Protocol in 1991.  SITA’s headquarters building is located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and was built with the generous support of the People and Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Diana Garcia Prichard, Scientist and Educator

Happy Birthday to scientist and education activist Diana Garcia Prichard, born in San Francisco, California on October 27, 1949.  Prichard’s mother was an immigrant from Nicaragua and her father was a Texan of Mexican and Native American heritage.  After raising her two children, Prichard returned to school, earning a BS in chemistry/ physics at California State University at Hayward and an MS and Ph D in chemical physics at the University of Rochester.  Prichard founded the program “Partnership in Education” that provides Latino role models to teach science and math to limited English proficient students.  She is a national board member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

Happy Birthday to María Brito

Happy Birthday to sculptor, painter, and professor María Brito, born in Havana, Cuba, on October 10, 1947.  At age 13, Brito and her brother were smuggled out of Cuba to the US in a program known as “Pedro Pan”.  Brito earned two arts degrees, in art education from the University of Miami and in fine arts from Florida International University.  When she began work with ceramics, she found her heart’s mode of artistic expression.  Brito has won numerous awards for her creations, including two National Endowment fellowships and two Cintas Fellowships.  In 1993, Brito participated with other Cuban-American artists in the Cuban Artists of the 20th Century Exhibition. (Image by American Art Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Brito is in the center, seated at the table.)

Happy Birthday to Frank Tejeda

US Marine Corps veteran and Congressman Frank Tejeda was born in San Antonio, Texas on October 2, 1945. After serving in the Marines and being wounded in action in the Vietnam War, Tejeda returned to school to earn a BA from St. Mary’s University, law degrees from the University of California and Yale, and an MA from Harvard’s Kennedy School.  He served in the Texas House of Representatives, and was elected to the US Congress in 1992.  In Congress, he worked to improve services for veterans and furthering rights for minorities, before his early death at age 51.

Happy Birthday to Rodney Cline Carew

Happy birthday to Rodney Cline Carew, considered one of modern baseball’s greatest hitters.  The Major League Player also excelled as a first baseman, second baseman and coach. Carew was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.  Carew’s mother was Panamanian, and he was born on a train traveling through the Panama Canal Zone.  During the racial segregation of the 1940’s that was implemented in the Canal Zone, his mother was in the rear car when she went into labor.  A physician on the train, Dr. Rodney Cline, delivered Carew, and the famous MLB player is his namesake.

Vilma Martinez, Attorney and Ambassador

Happy Birthday to attorney and human right advocate Vilma Martinez, born in San Antonio, Texas.  Growing up as a Mexican American in Texas, Martinez was discouraged by her so-called educators from entering college.  Fortunately, Martinez ignored the prejudiced advice, graduated from the University of Texas and then earned a law degree from Columbia University.   Martinez has received numerous national awards for her work in advancing civil rights for all Americans.  Martinez served as president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).  In 2009, Martinez was appointed as the US’ first woman ambassador to Argentina.

Happy Birthday to “Chucho” Jesús Dionisio Valdés

Happy Birthday to “Chucho” Jesús Dionisio Valdés, the Grammy Award winning jazz pianist and composer, born in Quivicán, Cuba.  Chucho’s early life reads like a Hollywood script:  his parents were musicians who were well known at the famous Tropicana Club in roaring pre-revolutionary Havana.  Chucho met the great American jazz musicians performing there, including Nat King Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughn.   (Please check Wikipedia if you’re too young to know of these luminaries, or if these luminaries are too old for you to know).  He began playing piano at age 3, and inspired the Latin Jazz movement in Cuba and later in the US.  In 1980, he founded the Annual Havana International Jazz Festival (Please see December 15 for more information.)  Chucho has won a total of 8 Grammy Awards, the most recent in 2011.  He is now touring worldwide – visit www.ValdesChucho.com to catch up with Chucho.

El Colegio de Mexico Opening

El Colegio de Mexico officially opened its doors on October 8, 1940 in Mexico City, Mexico.  ColMex, as the academic center is known, started as a refuge for Spanish scientists, thinkers, humanists and writers during Spain’s Civil War.  It has evolved to become one of the most outstanding centers of research and teaching in the Latino world.  As of 2010, El Colegio had over 300 full-time students who are grant holders in highly rated academic programs, and an almost equal number of faculty members and researchers.  In 2001, El Colegio won the Prince of Asturias Prize for Social Sciences.

The Hispanic Room

The Hispanic Room at the US Library of Congress in Washington, DC opened on October 12, 1939.  The Room was named for the Hispanic Society of New York.  It is the focal point for the extensive resources of Luso-Hispanic materials throughout the Library of Congress.  The Room is open to the public, so please stop by for a visit and see your taxpayer’s dollars at work at www.LOC.gov.  The Library of Congress also offers an amazing collection of Hispanic / Latino Exhibits and Digital Collections.  Great resource for your homework during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15).

Batlle Family, Uruguay

While the Bush family can boast of two US Presidents, the Batlle family of Uruguay holds a record for winning Presidential elections, with four presidents over the Uruguayan nation’s history.  The latest to win this honor is Jorge Luis Batlle Ibáñez, born on October 25, 1927 in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Batlle faced a number of difficulties, including a nation that was still recovering from a brutal military dictatorship and serious problems with corruption.  His approach has been forthright and innovative.  Soon after his election, Batlle disclosed his salary and the salary of his closest associates on the presidential website.   Batlle is a strong advocate of the Internet, and computer technology, and one of his key policies is for all Uruguayan students to become computer literate. Although Batlle is allied with many US policies, he is outspoken in his advocacy to legalize drugs as a means of decriminalizing the bloody industry.  As Batlle stated in an interview, “The day that it (drugs) is legalized in the United States, it will lose its value. And if it loses value, there will be no profit.”

“¡Azúcar!” (“Sugar!”) 

The fabulous and famous Latina singer, Celia Cruz, began to light the world on October 21, 1924, with her birth in Havana, Cuba.  Cruz started her career singing in cabarets in Havana, and got her big break in 1950 as the lead singer for La Sonora Matancera.  The group went on tour in 1959, the year of the Cuban Revolution, and Cruz never returned home.  In New York, she lit up the salsa scene.   Cruz was a charismatic presence on stage, wearing glamorous and spectacular dresses, heels and wigs and calling out her signature exclamation, “¡Azúcar!” (“Sugar!”)  Cruz produced 23 certified gold albums, and was as beloved by her audiences for her heart of gold.   For more on Celia Cruz, please visit the Smithsonian American History Museum online exhibit at www.SI.edu.

Happy Birthday to José Donoso Yáñez

October 5, 1924 was the birthdate of internationally renowned Chilean writer José Donoso Yáñez, born in Santiago, Chile.  Donoso attended an English language day school as a youngster in Chile.  A rebellious youth, he wrote that he hated his school work and compulsory sports, while his wanderlust inspired travels in South America, the US and Europe.  Donoso later won a scholarship to Princeton University, where he earned a BA in 1951.  He spent much of his life in self-imposed exile, and was deeply opposed to the brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.   The New York Times described Donoso’s work as, “… novels and short stories [that] used dark surrealism and social satire to explore the haunted lives of exiles and writers and a world of aristocratic excesses.”  (Photo by Ulf  Andersen/Getty Images)

Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill, Jazz Musician

Grammy nominated jazz musician, composer, and band leader Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill was born on October 28, 1921 in Havana, Cuba.  His mother was Cuban and his father was Irish. O’Farrill was one of the early influencers of American bebop and swing, as he introduced Latin rhythm to the jazz scene of the late 1940s through the 1960s.  His groundbreaking works were the “Afro-Cuban Suite,” “Aztec Suite,” and “Cuban Dances”.  Later in the 1990s, he lived in Los Angeles, and worked with musicians David Bowie and Wynton Marsalis.  O’Farrill continued his love of composing and creating music, releasing his final album, Carambola, the year before his death in 2001.

Baruj Benacerraf, Noble Prize Winner

Nobel Prize winner Baruj Benacerraf was born in Caracas, Venezuela on October 29, 1920.  Benacerraf’s family were Sephardic South Americans (Latino and Jewish, a spiritual precursor of the Miami Jewbans).  His father was born in Spanish Morocco and his mother in Algeria.  Benacerraf graduated from Columbia University with a BA, and then attempted to enter medical school.  As he later wrote, “I did not realize, however, that admission to Medical School was a formidable undertaking for someone with my ethnic and foreign background in the United States of 1942.”  A father of a friend assisted him, and Benacerraf was admitted to the Medical College of Virginia.   Later in 1970, Benacerraf was awarded the Chair of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and he received the Noble Prize while at Harvard.  His Prize was for his “discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions”.

Rita Hayworth / Margarita Carmen Cansino

A star was born!  Among the Hispanic-Americans that you may not know was Hispanic is Margarita Carmen Cansino, who achieved worldwide fame as Hollywood’s glamorous Rita Hayworth.  Her father was an immigrant from Spain, where her Spanish grandfather was a renowned bolero dancer.  Hayworth appeared in 61 movies over her 37 year career, and earned a place as one of 25 women in the American Film Institute’s listing of Greatest Stars of All Time.  The nationally loved star was a favorite of US troops during World War II, and her screensaver (called ‘pin-up’ back then) graced the walls of many overseas barracks.  Off-screen, her life was complicated, with several high profile marriages that ended in divorce and struggles with alcoholism.  Cansino finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s related illnesses in 1987.

Las Cruces, New Mexico Becomes a US City

The beautiful city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was incorporated as a US city on October 9, 1907.  The area was originally settled by the Manso Native American nation until the Spanish invaded in 1598.  The territory remained as part of the Spanish empire until 1821, when the Mexican government acquired the land.  After the Mexican-American War in 1848, Las Cruces and New Mexico became part of US territory.  Las Cruces is the second most populous city in New Mexico, and home to the land grant New Mexico State University.   Hispanic Americans comprise about 57% of the city’s current population.   (Image from LOC.gov, Las Cruces City Hall, 1942)

US Invades Puerto Rico, 1898

As the Spanish American war was ending in the summer of 1898, US troops launched an invasion of Puerto Rico, one of Spain’s remaining two principal islands in the Caribbean.  The Puerto Ricans decided not to offer a strong resistance, and the island was captured with only a few casualties.  After an armistice was signed with Spain, the island was officially turned over to the US.  On October 18, 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico for the first time in its history. (Image of Guanica, Puerto Rico, where US troops initially landed; Source: www.LOC.gov)

Happy Birthday to Martin Luis Guzman

The inspired life of writer, journalist, and politician Martin Luis Guzman began in Chihuahua, Mexico, on October 6, 1887.  Guzman’s literary works centered on the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which he supported and advanced.  His most famous novel, “El Aguila y la Serpient” (“The Eagle and the Serpent”) is a classic memoir of his experience of the revolution.  His portrait of Pancho Villa’s revolutionary leadership in “Memorias de Pancho Villa” was critically acclaimed as well.  Guzman returned to politics later in life, as Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1951.

“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The beautiful lady holding high her torch of light over the New York City Harbor was formally dedicated by US President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886.  The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France, who had been so influential in assisting the struggling US during the American Revolutionary War almost a century earlier.  The statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom.  The famous poet Emma Lazarus wrote the lines that grace the plaque at the base of the statue.  At that time in her life, Lazarus was volunteering to assist many poor immigrants who had fled political violence in Eastern Europe.  Her legendary lines read:

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Cubans Abolish Slavery

It was a day of jubilation, a day of tears of joy, after centuries of unspeakable horrors – on October 7, 1886, Spain abolished slavery in Cuba.  Since the 1500s, Havana had been one of the centers of the slave trade of the Spanish empire in the Americas.  During the 1700s, this slave trade was also transacted with the leading financiers and fighters of the American Revolutionary War.   During mid-1800s, unable to resolve the issues peacefully, the North Americans fought the bloody US Civil War over slavery (1861-1865).  On both continents, Americans of African heritage would spend decades fighting to gain equality.

Picasso, The Artist

On October 25, 1881, one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century began his exuberant life in Malaga, Spain.  Pablo Picasso’s first word as a child was reportedly “lápiz”–Spanish for “pencil”.  He began drawing as a toddler, and continued to draw until his death.  Picasso’s paintings became icons of his times and beyond, as his creative genius flowed through periods of Blue, Pink, Primitivism and Cubist and revolutionized painting and sculpture.  Picasso truly relished living.  He married his second wife at age 80, and partied on his wedding night until 2 AM.  In the last years before his death at age 90, he continued to create hundreds of beautiful works of art.

Teresa Urrea, Mystic and Healer

Teresa Urrea, the gifted mystic, healer, and psychic of Mexican and Yaqui heritage, was born on October 15, 1873 in Rancho Santana, in northern central Mexico. After a traumatic illness, Teresa began to lapse into trances and believed that the Catholic Virgin Mary wished for her to cure people.  Reports of her cures were astonishing and miraculous. Teresa soon developed a large following of devotees in politically turbulent areas of Mexico, to the consternation of the ruling elite.   Her name was invoked by Native Americans in Mexico during periods of political unrest, though Teresa herself never sought political or military leadership.  Teresa and her father were sent into exile in Arizona in 1892, where she continued to cure thousands of people.   Teresa died at the young age of 33, and is buried in the Shannon Hill Catholic cemetery in Arizona.

Cuba’s Fight for Freedom

Cuba’s Ten Year War for independence from Spain began on the plantation of Carlos Céspedes in 1868. This event is celebrated annually on October 10 as the “Grito de Yara” (“Cry of Yara”).  Céspedes declared Cuba’s independence and proclaimed freedom for Cuba’s slaves.  The Cuban Liberation Army, as it became known, fought a guerilla style war against the Spaniards.  Spain responded by sending the largest army to cross the Atlantic to fight the rebels: 200,000 soldiers commanded by 40 top generals.  This military might was a far greater force than US Commander George Washington ever fought during the American Revolutionary War.  After tremendous loss of life, the Cubans prevailed in 1898.  The Americans intervened in this conflict, which escalated into the Spanish American War.  As one American historian and war veteran later wrote, “Not one American in 10,000 realizes how important the Cuban army was in our Spanish war … Our histories simply state that we did it all …. Isn’t honor overdue where honor was earned?”  (Image of Carlos Céspedes)

“Snow-covered” Nevada

The state of Nevada was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864.  The state was named for the Sierra Nevada mountain range; nevada means “snow-covered” in Spanish.  The native nations initially inhabited the area.  Francisco Garces, a Spanish missionary who had been part of the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition, traveled there in 1776; he was the first European explorer in the region.  (Please see October 23, 1775 for more on the Anza Expedition.)  The state hosts many localities with Spanish names, including Las Vegas — which was named by New Mexican businessman Antonio Armijo — Reno, Mina Caliente, Potosi Mountain, Aurora, Candeleria, Aurora, El Dorado, and La Madre Mountains.  The famous Nevada wild mustangs are also Latinos, descended from the horses brought by the Spanish conquistadores to America in the 16th century.

Anti-Immigrate Violence 1854

These immigrants were reviled as aliens who didn’t belong in America, strangers who would undermine the American way of life – they were (take a guess) — Irish and German!   (Of course, that’s just what you were thinking, correcto?)  Violence against these aliens escalated in the mid-19th century, led by the “Know Nothing” anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic party.  On October 14, 1854, domestic terrorists from the state of Maine’s “Know Nothing” cell dumped burning tar and feathers over Johannes Bapst.  Bapst was a Swiss-born Jesuit missionary and educator who had fought for religious freedom for his parishioners.  Despite the horrendous treatment, Bapst did not go back to Switzerland and stayed in his adopted homeland.  After a lengthy semi-recovery from the tortuous ordeal, Bapst helped to found Boston College, later becoming its first president.  Image of the Bapst Library at Boston College, named in honor of the torture victim, unwanted immigrant, and college president.

Jose Toribio Medina, Media Mogul

The prolific archivist and media mogul of South American history, Jose Toribio Medina, was born on October 21, 1852, in Santiago, Chile.  At the age of 22, he began his life’s commitment to catalog the manuscripts and histories of his native Chile.  He included challenging and controversial topics, such as the record of the Inquisition in Chile, Peru, and the Philippines, and studies of the aboriginal nations of Chile.  Medina published over 300 books on South American history and culture.  Five years before his death, he presented his personal collection of 2 individual catalogs, 60,000 original forms, 1,668 manuscripts, and 8,659 transcribed documents to the National Library of Chile.

Invading California, 1842

Some people just can’t wait for the action to start.  On October 19, 1842, US naval officer T.A.C. Jones invaded and occupied Monterrey, California.  California was then part of the Mexican nation, after its settlement by the Spanish in 1770.  Jones and his squadron thought that war had started, and decided to make a preemptive strike.  Unfortunately for Jones, he had arrived early; the Mexican-American War did not start until four years later in 1846 (oops!).  The undocumented and uninvited Jones saluted and went back to his boat.  A week later, a similar invasion occurred in San Diego.  (No, really, we do not make up this stuff.)

Romualdo Pacheco, First Latino Governor of California

The first (and to date only) Hispanic Governor of California was born on October 31, 1831. Romualdo Pacheco was born in Santa Barbara, California; his father was a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, who died when Pacheco was an infant.  His Scottish stepfather sent him to be educated in Honolulu, Hawaii, and he later returned to California.  Pachecho was a man of many talents; as a rancher, he once lassoed a grizzly bear.   His bilingual skills enabled him to gain the support of the long-established Latino families and the immigrant Anglo Americans, who contributed to his political success.  Pachecho had a long and distinguished career in public service, including in the Union Army, the California State Senate, and the US Congress.   Pachecho was also appointed as diplomatic minister for the US in Central America.

The Federal Constitution of Mexico is ratified

The Federal Constitution of Mexico was ratified on October 4, 1824, after the overthrow of Mexican Emperor Augustin I, a former general who had decided to crown himself. The representative federal republic was christened the United Mexican States.  The constitution promulgated three branches of power:  Legislative, Executive and Judicial.  The Legislative branch was represented by two chambers of Deputies and Senators, and the terms of the President and Vice President were limited to four years.  About 30 years later, this constitution was replaced by the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

José Manuel Gallegos, Priest and Politician

José Manuel Gallegos had several careers in his life, first as priest and later as politician.  Gallegos was born on October 30, 1815 in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.  Gallegos attended parochial schools and studied theology at a Jesuit college in Durango, Mexico.   Back in New Mexico, Gallegos became friends with David Merriwether, a Democrat who would later become Governor of New Mexico.  Merriwether instructed Gallegos on the principles of the Democratic Party.  Since Gallegos did not speak English fluently, he asked Merriwether to write his content, and later had it translated into Spanish.  Gallegos was the first Latino delegate from New Mexico to be elected to the US Congress.

Juan Nepomuceno Seguín, Texan

Juan Nepomuceno Seguín, born on October 29, 1806, is regarded as a hero in Texas for his service in the war to gain independence from Mexico.  (Yes, you read this correctly: a Latino hero in the Republic of Texas’ War of Independence.)  As the Texas independence movement began to unfold, many Anglos and Mexican Americans joined together against Mexican General Santa Anna. Seguín’s friend, Stephen F. Austin, appointed him as captain in the Texas cavalry in October 1835.  Austin also introduced him to General Sam Houston; Houston later became the first President of the Republic of Texas. Seguín commanded a brigade and fought in the Battle of San Antonio.  At the Battle of San Jacinto, Seguín captured three Mexican colonels and became known as the “Hero of San Jacinto.”  In 1840, Seguín was elected as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas.  Texas at that time was becoming the Wild West, and Seguín moved his family across the Mexican border to the safety of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  In Nuevo Laredo, he was promptly arrested and forced into the Mexican Army by the vengeful Santa Anna. He died in 1890 and was buried in Nuevo Laredo.  In 1974 his body was exhumed and returned to Seguín, Texas for burial, where he was honored for his contribution in the fight for independence.

The Louisiana Purchase, 1803

It was the real estate deal of the century, brought to you by your US federal government.  The US Senate approved the Louisiana Purchase on October 20, 1803.  The western half of the Mississippi River basin was purchased for $15 million, about four cents per acre.  The size of the nation was doubled with the stroke of a pen.  The Spanish had controlled the territory and the valuable port of Nuevo Orleans since 1762.  Under pressure from the French, they had ceded territorial control in 1800.  A few years later, when Emperor Napoleon was strapped for cash after an expensive military campaign and defeat in Santo Domingo, the French sold the territory to the US.

Rafael Cordero, Educator and Humanitarian

Rafael Cordero was an educator and humanitarian who sparked public education in Puerto Rico.  Cordero was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 24, 1790.  The entrepreneurial Cordero owned and managed a cigar shop.  For 58 years, Cordero taught children who could not afford an education at his home.  His humble house on Luna street is now honored in the National Register of Historic Places, and the Catholic Church is preparing for his beautification, one of the initial steps in designating Cordero as a saint.

José Miguel Carrera Verdugo

José Miguel Carrera Verdugo, one of the founders of the nation of Chile, was born on October 15, 1785, in Santiago, Chile.  A charismatic man from a wealthy family, Carrera was of Spanish Basque descent, as were several South American revolutionary leaders.  Carrera had fought with the Spanish Army in Europe, and joined the independence movement when he returned home in 1810.  His political and military career was controversial: he overthrew a conservative military party and dissolved congress, and established a new government, with himself as military dictator. One of his accomplishments during his brief rule from 1811 to 1813 was the abolition of slavery.  Fighting with Spain continued in 1814, and Carrera fled to Argentina.  After quarreling with his fellow revolutionary leaders and attempting to plot against them, Carrera was executed in 1821.


Happy Birthday to Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis

Today is the birthdate of an unacknowledged hero of the 18th century American Revolutionary War, the Spanish soldier and secret agent, Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis.  Saavedra was born in Sevilla, Spain, and fought in the military campaigns in Algiers.  He was sent to the Caribbean region by King Carlos III, with instructions to work with the French against the British and to aid the North American rebels.  Saavedra was instrumental in the French victory at the Battle of the Capes in 1781 and in organizing the collection of silver and gold in Havana, Cuba, that funded the Siege and Battle of Yorktown.   After retiring to Spain due to ill health, he once again rallied to serve his country during the Napoleonic invasion of 1810.  An educated and prescient man, he wrote in his journal that, “What is not being thought about at present, what ought to occupy the whole attention of politics, is the great upheaval that in time the North American revolution is going to produce in the human race.”  (Please visit www.OurAmericanHistory.com for more information on the contribution of the Spanish and Hispanic Americans to the North American Revolutionary War.)

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

The journey began at the Royal Presidio of San Ignacio de Tubac in southern Arizona on October 23, 1775, and the weary travelers finally arrived at the Royal Presidio of San Carlos de Monterey in California in June of the following year.  The Expedition was a large party comprising Anza, 3 Franciscan priests and their servants, 3 Spanish officers, 28 soldiers, the wives of the sergeant and soldiers, 136 colonists (men, women, and children), 20 muleteers, 3 vaqueros (cowboys), and 3 Indian interpreters.  Anza’s diary chronicles the exploratory expeditions from Monterey to the opening of the San Francisco Bay, around the East Bay to the Sacramento River Delta, and back to Monterey.  The route is now known as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

Our Lady of Peace, 1548

High in the mountains that kiss the clouds, Spanish explorer Alonso de Mendoza founded the city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) on October 20, 1548.  The streets and plazas of the carefully planned colonial city are witnesses to a turbulent history, including the siege of the city by the Aymara nation in 1781 and the call for revolution against colonial Spain in 1809.  La Paz is now the capital city of Bolivia, with a population of about 880,000 wonderful people.  (Image by Mark Goble)

Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race)

Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race) is the annual celebration of Native American Heritage on October 12 (as opposed to Columbus Day).  In 1492, people of the Taíno nation in their homeland on the island of Guanahani discovered Christopher Columbus, hopelessly lost on his way to India after grossly underestimating the earth’s longitude.  Columbus and his men brought germs from Europe, along with horses, steel and gunpowder.  This day marked the beginning of the European invasions of the “Americas”; within 50 years, about 90% of the estimated 70 to 100 million Native American people were dead.  According to historian Marshall C. Eakin, this invasion was “the greatest demographic catastrophe in human history.”  (Please observe a moment of prayer and silence during this day.  Thank you.)