LATINO AMERICAN TODAY - COMMUNITY
By Graciela Eleta
On Thanksgiving Day, many Hispanic homes will be filled with the familiar scent of turkey roasting, but the holiday preparations will also include other customary dishes that better reflect Hispanic heritage. Many Latinos may choose to follow American traditions and also opt to include Hispanic foods as part of the celebration.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, mixing the old with a new part of life is a way to show how thankful and appreciative Latinos are about their bountiful lives. Thanksgiving is sometimes known as “Dia de Accion de Gracia” or “Dia de Dar Gracias,” but the Thanksgiving name or traditions hold strong. Part of the unique U.S. Latino experience is creating a customized blend of Hispanic and American cultural cues and traditions. So, while all-American at its core, Thanksgiving in a Latino home may still look and feel innately Latino from food and décor to a steady stream of Latino music, dancing and laughter. These things do not take away from the tradition, they only add more layers.
Along with the classic stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberries, tostones or mofongo (both made of deep-fried plantains), tamales, guacamole, tortillas, beans and specialty salsas and rice dishes (which vary by country of origin) might be found on the dining table. Cultural insights begin at home, and Latinos will tailor Thanksgiving to meet the duality of their culture in the U.S. and pay tribute to their Hispanic roots. Families with school-age children are also more apt to understand the unique holiday.
While Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Latin America—and the real history of the holiday beyond foodstuff might elude those who did not grow up with this history lesson – Latinos feel a special connection to its meaning of being thankful, and they appreciate sharing in its festivities. In fact, 76 percent of Latinos often celebrate U.S. holidays, and 86 percent of Latinos feel it is natural to live and act in ways that are typical of U.S. American culture, according to a Simmons Spring 2011 survey. You might ask, does it matter if pumpkin flan is served rather than a pumpkin pie? And what if stuffing is seasoned with adobo, chorizo and peppers? Creativity is a large part of any family meal, and some food companies cater to a Latino palate that is unfamiliar with turkey and other traditional Thanksgiving fixings.
What matters is that marketing is used to invite Latinos to fully embrace the American tradition and its offerings. In a comScore study, 35 percent of Hispanics recalled products that they saw advertised, versus 31 percent of non-Hispanics. Thirty one percent of Latinos also enjoyed watching ads, compared with only 19 percent of non-Hispanics. Although growth has slowed in the consumer product goods industry overall, companies that provide CPGs for Hispanics have seen more progression, and Latinos often turn to Spanish-language media to familiarize themselves with American traditions.
Food and beverage companies can do their part to offer choices and alternatives to Hispanic consumers that blend the two cultures. Think turkey with chorizo cornbread stuffing, or turkey hotlines in Spanish, for example. But it’s not the food itself that makes the holiday. It is family, and new and old traditions that make the day so special. After all, an occasion that combines family, food and fun is bound to be cherished.
Left: The cast of In the Heights
What a wonderful way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by seeing the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts production of In the Heights, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Rick Aguilar and guests Ana de la Torre, Rose Aguilar, and Katie Eilers enjoyed a terrific night of theatre and a fun after party with the cast. “This is my first time at the Ordway, I’m so impressed and thrilled to be here,” stated Ana de la Torre. “It’s so cool that the Ordway had local Latino talent involved with the production,” said Rose Aguilar. “I plan to bring my grandson to the David Gonzalez production.”
Left to right: Alberto Justiniano, Teatro del Pueblo Artistic Director; Jamie Grant, Ordway President & CEO; Rick Aguilar; James Rocco, Ordway VP of Programming and Producing Artistic Director; and Eugenio Vargas, musical director.
Rick Aguilar is pleased that the Ordway leadership aims to welcome and increase participation of Latinos in their core audience and deepen their connection with the Twin Cities growing Latino community. Aguilar who is past Chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and former Saint Paul RiverCentre Commissioner is currently working with the Ordway marketing team through his company Aguilar Productions. “Our goal is to introduce more Latinos to the theater productions and to the many opportunities that the Ordway is offering to the community. The Ordway leadership wants to work proactively to ensure that everyone can take part in and shape their programs, both in the community and at the Ordway as well as participate in their workforce and activities.”
Maya Santamaria, an award recipient
Each year we honor individuals, organizations, and businesses for their commitment to Hispanic heritage, culture, and community! Here are our recipients for 2017! The awards will be presented at the 15th annual La Familia Latino Family Festival & Expo.
Twin Cities business and community leader and founder and owner of Santamaria Broadcasting.
Elsa Vega Perez
Senior Project Consultant, diversity expert and social justice advocate with over 20 years experience in philanthropy, non-profit and public sector.
Internationally recognized award-winning author, chef-entrepreneur, and business leader.
Top row, left to right: Elsa Vega Perez, Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, Maria Elena Caldera de Arana, Rick Cardenas, SSG Alejandro Quintana, and Michael Rogers.
Maria Elena Caldera de Arana
A widely-respected and gifted community leader in Nicaragua and also in Miami, Florida. She is an organizer who has been instrumental in creating and developing many initiatives for the Red Cross of Nicaragua. Our international La Familia awardee!
Twin Cities community leader and champion and advocate for disability rights!
SSG Alejandro Quintana
Serving our country as a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis
President Michael Rogers and the students.
The August 11-13 celebration will feature diverse music and entertainment, exclusive tours, family-friendly activities, fireworks, and much more.
Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith invite all Minnesotans to the Capitol Grand Opening Celebration on August 11, 12, and 13 at the fully restored Minnesota State Capitol. The three-day long celebration will reintroduce Minnesotans to the “People’s House,” which recently underwent a four-year restoration project. A diverse schedule of events is designed to bring Minnesotans of all ages, and from all corners of the state, to St. Paul to celebrate one of our state’s most iconic landmarks. “The Minnesota State Capitol has finally been returned to its original grandeur, with additional public space and improved accessibility that truly make it the People’s House. It is a testament to the talented men and women of the building trades, who devoted three years to this project,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I encourage all Minnesotans to come view the restored Capitol, and partake in the Grand Opening Celebration festivities August 11-13.”
“The State Capitol has been at the center of Minnesota civic and community life for more than 100 years. With this restoration finally complete, our Capitol is ready to serve as a gathering space for generations of Minnesotans,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I hope all Minnesotans will mark their calendars and visit their State Capitol this August.
Join the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Children’s Museum, Minnesota Zoo, the Minnesota Historical Society, and librarians from across the state in fun and family-friendly events! Every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be engaging indoor and outdoor activities for kids to enjoy!
Enjoy diverse music and dance performances throughout the weekend with groups of singers and dancers performing a variety of styles celebrating Minnesota’s vibrant culture. Musical performances are on the outdoor stage throughout the each day!
On Friday night, grab a friend and bust a move as we end the day with a Prince Dance Party!
On Saturday afternoon, join the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild at “Cap Untapped” before a free concert from The Current Presents: Lizzo and Poliça! Be sure to stick around – Fireworks will light up the night sky behind the Capitol immediately following the concert!
On Sunday, Classical MPR and VocalEssence will “Bring the Sing on the Capitol Green” as they lead a sing-along community choral event on the Capitol Lawn.
Yoga and Breakfast on the Capitol Lawn
Grab your yoga mat and join us for some sun salutations on the Capitol Mall! Yoga classes will be led by the St. Paul YWCA. On Saturday, free water bottles are provided to participants while supplies last. A limited supply of free blueberry muffins will be served each day, compliments of General Mills.
Guides from the Minnesota Historical Society and a host of Capitol tenant volunteers will lead you on a tour of the Minnesota State Capitol building. Grand Opening Tours will include special behind-the-scenes looks at restored spaces including the Loggia and Quadriga, Governor’s Office, the House and Senate Retiring Rooms, and the private Supreme Court Conference Room. Tours run all day, beginning every 30 minutes from the Information Desk. Dusk each day will feature a special viewing, raising, and lighting of the Rotunda Chandelier.
By Rick Aguilar
Everytime I would run into Nick Castillo in our adult years he would always say to me, “hey Rich who loves ya,” and then he would give me that hug, along with his distinctive laugh, that was his alone. Man, I’m really going to miss my long time best friend, Nicolas Castillo Jr.
Nick passed away recently after fighting cancer for five years. He fought that illness the way he lived, with pride, passion, and love for his family, friends, and his community. Throughout the Twin Cities friends remembered Nick with the phrase “one and only” used hundreds of times to describe his life, because in fact, that was so true! Our hometown neighborhood the “West Side Flat’s” produced some real personalities in our history, and Nick was defintely in the Top Ten List. His look, the way he dressed, his own hip language and those shades…that walk…his warm personality, he was so cool, and we all loved him.
From left: Young Nicolas: A teen idol; middle: Nick and his son Nicolas Castillo III who’s holding the golf club Nick used to make his “hole in one.”; right: Nicolas and his wife Barbara.
Nick’s life had its ups and downs…accomplishments and dissapointments, but his attitude never changed—he was determined to make a difference. Maybe that drive to make a difference started with his boxing career in the Golden Gloves. He was the pride of the West Side, winning bout after bout and going on to the Golden Glove National finals and being selected to Mancini’s St. Paul Sports Hall of Fame. Or how about his college years where he led a group of Latino students who challenged the administration and as a result the department of Chicano Latino Studies was formed at the University of Minnesota and is still in place today. Later Nick and his mother Tomasa, (herself a legend in the community) took on City Hall and the result was Parque Castillo, La Clinica, and other West Side success stories. On the light side who can forget Nick dancing to Mickey’s Monkee with the Jaymars and Rudy Garcia. I was the lead singer of the Jaymars and we could write a book about all the laughs and good times we had with Nick right on stage with us. Lum di lum di lie…lum di lum di lie….
When the news reached the community five years ago that Nick had aggressive cancer and only so long to live, he took that challenge on and lived his last years, looking good, hanging out with family and friends and golfing…including, dig this “a hole in one” adding to the legend of Nicolas Castillo Jr. Vaya con Dios Nick!
By Claud Santiago
With a projected buying power slated to reach $1.5 trillion by 2017, Hispanics are an important group for marketers, and leading the growth within this vital segment are women, according to a new report by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s report, Latina Power Shift, highlights the role of Hispanic women, their growing numbers, economic condition, purchasing behavior and consumption.
The Latina Influence
By the year 2060, Latinas will represent thirty percent (30 percent) of the U.S. female population, and will become dominant consumers across many industries. But if 2060 seems too far away, the following current demographics (from the Nielsen report) make a strong case for today’s Latina influence:
Education, Career and Finances
• Latinas are outnumbering their male counterparts in educational achievements, career pursuits and income levels, shifting Latinas to the middle class and above;
• For the first time, Latinas have surpassed non-Hispanic females in college enrollment (73 percent and 72 percent respectively);
• Latinas in households making $75,000 or more increased by 5 percentage points over the past ten years;
• Latinas are more likely than other females to have bought a first home in the past year, and they are just as likely to have bought a new car, made a major home improvement or refinanced a home.
Motherhood and Household
• Twenty-three percent of all U.S. births in 2011 were to a Latina mom, and 63 percent of Hispanic families have children under age 18 compared to 40 percent for non-Hispanic white females. This high incidence of Latina mothers with young children, paired with gains in educational and economic attainments, positions Latinas in a key role as consumers for an array of household products;
• Eighty-six percent of Latinas report that they are the primary decision makers in their households spending.
Mobile and Internet Technology• Latinas are adopting all types of technology at a higher pace than U.S. females. Online Latinas are more likely than their non-Hispanic white counterparts to own smartphones at 77 percent (vs. 55 percent);
Above: Christy Ana with Snow Queen Royalty
Reported by Christy Ana
Comunidad latinoamericana de Minneapolis y Saint Paul, les invito a unirse a la diversión de este evento único! Desde 1886, el Carnaval de Invierno se ha celebrado cada enero / febrero, excepto durante los años de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La celebración del Carnaval de Invierno incluye desfiles, un festival de cerveza al aire libre, una caza de medallones, actividades familiares gratuitas y de bajo costo, esculturas de hielo y nieve, música en vivo y apariciones de la Fam...ilia Real. La Coronación se efectuó anoche en el RiverCenter, representando el viaje mágico del rey Boreas LXXXI junto con Aurora, la Reina de las Nieves; las Princesas y Príncipes de los cuatro viento; así como la Guardia Real. Una tradición de carnaval de invierno de ciento treinta años.
Left: Christy Ana with King Boreas, Right: Christy Ana visiting with royalty from Bradenton, Florida
La familia real hace varias apariciones durante el año para beneficiar el Área Metropolitana de las Ciudades Gemelas y para promover Saint Paul y el Carnaval de Invierno.
Participemos en está celebración al invierno en espera de la bendita primavera. Allá nos vemos!
Left: Saúl Carranza
The history of the first Christmas is nothing like the celebrations that are organized today to remember it.
The Gospels narrate the miraculous apparitions of the Angel Gabriel to the priest Zacharias and the young Mary. In both cases to announce the supernatural birth of a child. To Zechariah, he announces that his old and barren wife will give birth to a child and that he should call him John. To Mary, he announced that it will fulfill the prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah almost 800 years ago and said: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Immanuel means God with us. And when the young woman asked the angel, how can it be possible that she is going to have a baby if she has not known any man sexually, the angel tells her that it is the work of the Holy Spirit who will do the miracle that she Conceive without the participation of a male. The child Jesus is the son of God. And he came to this world to bring the message of love and goodwill of the Father. He came to remind us that God loves all people.
Although we know that the date we celebrated on December 25 could not be the date of Jesus’ birth. This date gives us time each year to celebrate the wonderful event of the birth of the Son of God. And that’s what the word Christmas means, “from Latin Nativitas” means “birth.”
Mary was the promised wife to Joseph who received her as his wife, even knowing that she was expecting a child. Joseph knew that child was from God. Joseph and Mary had to make the painful journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to fulfill the mandate of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar. All were to be counted. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem must have taken many days, since the distance between the two villages was about 180 kilometers. The census made no place for them in the village. And that the only place they found to spend the night was a manger. Usually the cribs were caves open on the rock for the animals to sleep. So that first Christmas did not smell of pine, nor punch, nor had lights. In an obscure and malodorous cave the Savior of the world was born. The only guests that night were humble shepherds to whom the angels told the “good tidings of great joy. That night in the city of David, the Savior of the world was born.”
That’s why Christmas is Jesus and forgetting that leaves us with only a party without meaning. Jesus is the gift of God to all human beings, and it is in his name that everyone in celebrating this feast we wish for peace and happiness. Christmas is a holiday to spend as a family, it’s a holiday to enjoy. It is a time to approach the one who came down from heaven to come to reign in our heart and fill it with the love of God. Merry Christmas.
Saúl Carranza is originally from Guatemala. Pastor of the Church: Christ for All Nations in the City of Crystal, MN. Its mission is to serve God and the Hispanic community of the Twin Cities by teaching the Word of God, living in a community of love and serving the needy.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-245-2378.
Left: Rudy Aguilar at the Arlington National Cemetery
Rudy Aguilar a 93 year old Army veteran who lives on St. Paul’s East Side had the time of his life on his “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C. this past October 29. Rudy along with a group of World War ll and Korea veterans and their Guardians, were treated to a full day of visiting the war memorials, seeing ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and enjoying their “Honor Flight” together over dinner.
Aguilar at the World War II Memorial
The Honor Flight Network paid for the charter aircraft, tour bus service, hats, tee-shirts, Honor Flight pins, meals a biography book, Video and Photos of the Veterans and Guardians on the flight.
Rudy Aguilar on the flight to Washington D.C. reading his V-mails
On the flight to D.C. Rudy and the veterans were handed a bag full of V-mails, written letters from family, friends and others wishing them a great trip and thanking them for their service.
Aguilar who served in World War ll and earned a Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge, received a V-mail from Major General Rick Nash who is the current Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard.
“Rudy, thank you for your selfless, honorable and loyal service to our nation. You and those that served with you are truly the 'Greatest Generation' and those of us that follow have so much to live up to and honor your service and sacrifices.”
—Major General Rick Nash
Interview process at the Job Fair
By Claud Santiago
SuperValu, Inc. hosted a Job Fair on September 14, at the Nuevo Rodeo – 27 Event Center in Minneapolis.
“We were pleased with the Job Fair and the opportunity to offer employment with career advancement to the community,” commented Sue Sturnieks, HR Manager at SuperValu.
Latinos who attended the job fair were interviewed for positions in the SuperValu distribution center located in Hopkins, MN. For more information about this employment opportunity you can contact Kathy St. Louis at email@example.com or Axel Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SuperValu HR Staff: Kathy St. Louis, James Van Dusen, Lisa Signorelli, and Axel Torres.
Job applicants viewing video of job description.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988. Thanks to President Johnson and President Reagan for honoring the Latino Community.
The La Familia Hispanic Heritage Awards were presented at the La Familia 2016 event on August 6th, to the following recipients from Latino American Today Publisher Rick Aguilar and the Selection Committee.
Top left: L to R: Rick Aguilar, Freddie Lopez, ALMAS and Robert Hanson, Henry Sibley High School. Top right: Cecilia Stanton Adams, Director of Enterprise, Diversity & Talent Acquisition—Buffalo Wild Wings. Bottom left: pictured right, Bill Martinez, Retired Commander, St. Paul Police Department. Bottom right: SPECIAL HISPANIC HERITAGE AWARD TO AMERICAN WAR HERO! L to R: Frank Mendez Jr., John Flores, AMVETS, Frank Mendez Sr. World War II Hero, and Rick Aguilar.
Left: Masedonio “Do” Vasquez Jr.
By Rick Aguilar
The St. Paul West Side Flats over the years was a breeding ground for talented musicians who went on to perform in various bands and groups throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. Masedonio “Do” Vasquez Jr. who passed recently, was an example of the talent in that neighborhood.
For this article we spent time with Lee Vasquez (Do’s Brother) who gave us some insights about his brother and how they both got their start in music.
The West Side produced a melting pot of music. Latino musicians played traditional Mexican mariachi, polkas and Norteno music. There were also many young Latinos that listened to and played jazz, blues and rock. Do Vasquez and his pals, Ruben Trejo, Kico Rangel, and George Avaloz would go to the “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concerts when they came to St. Paul, and listen to their favorite’s jazz musicians like Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and others. Lee Vasquez told us that he started playing drums at Humboldt H.S. and helped introduce the saxophone to this brother Do at the jam sessions that would take place in the neighborhood.
Lee Vasquez went on to play drums with various bands and groups throughout the years.
Masedonio soon purchased his first saxophone and the rest is history. He started playing by ear with his pals and soon he began taking lessons from Kico Rangel and other musicians. He loved to listen to the great Sonny Rollins and developed a similar style that was unique at that time. Lee would take Do to some gigs he played with the Dick Ford Blues Band and let him sit in on saxophone.
In the early 60’s a West Side group was forming with Rudy Garcia on Bass, Bobby Garcia on guitar and Dave Bougie on drums. They invited Do to come to a rehearsal with the group and together they formed the Jaymars.
The Jaymars, from left to right: Bobby Garcia (guitar), Rick Aguilar (vocals), Jerry Barnez (drums), Rudy García (bass), and Do Vasquez (saxophone)
I had the pleasure of joining the Jaymars as their lead singer in 1962 and I really dug playing with Do, Rudy, and Bobby G. The group had its own style of playing Jazz, Blues, and Rock tunes we called it the “West Side Sound” to describe the music we played and we were booked with gigs throughout the Twin Cities. It was a wonderful era and our West Side fans were the hippest in town. I’ll always remember playing with Do he was so cool, funny and a wonderful person. We’ll remember his great sounding Selmer Tenor Saxophone and that ‘great grove’ all his fans enjoyed. Rest in Peace my friend.
Left: Juan Martinez
By Claud Santiago
Latino American Today attended the Children & Nature Network International Conference & Cities & Nature Summit that was held at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, May 24-27. We had an opportunity to meet Juan Martinez and learn about his love for the outdoors and his goal to involve more Latinos.
A proud product of South Central Los Angeles, Juan D. Martinez is the Children and Nature Network’s Director of Leadership Development and the Natural Leaders Network. He is also a National Geographic Explorer, and a TED Speaker. Crediting his experience of growing up in South Central L.A. with a deep understanding of the need to connect children, families, culture, and communities with the natural world, Juan has made a commitment to help empower the next generation of conservation and outdoor recreation leaders.
At an early age, his passion to empower youth individuals led him to direct the Sierra Club’s first environmental justice youth leadership academy in Los Angeles, and his interesting journey continued from there.
Martinez was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and travels across the US speaking and encouraging other young people to explore the outdoors. In 2014 The National Science Teachers Association’s Multicultural and Equity Committee honored Juan for his work as a Global Explorer.
A few years ago, Juan was invited to be a Murie Center Explorer in Residence in Grand Teton National Park, WY. Following his residence experience, he was elected to the Murie Center’s Board of Directors. Juan is on The Wilderness Society’s Governing Council, elected in 2015; and in 2012, he was elected to the Sierra Club Foundation Board, their youngest member ever.
Martinez will be returning to St. Paul in the near future and wants to meet with Latino community and business leaders to have them promote the wonderful world of the outdoors. We look forward to working with Martinez and his organization, meanwhile let's all go out and explore the wonderful outdoors Minnesota has to offer!
Senator David Hann and State Rep. Eric Lucero
By Claud Santiago
The Hispanic Republican Assembly of Minnesota (HRAMN) held their annual meeting, at the Boca Chica Restaurant in St. Paul. State Senator David Hann, minority leader in the Senate was the guest speaker. The membership elected new officers for the Assembly. Maria de la Paz is the new Chairman. De la Paz, has been active in the Republican party for many years and has been a key supporter in recruiting Latinos to the Republican party. Other officers elected included Rick Aguilar, who will serve as Vice Chair, Anthony Torres, will serve as Treasurer and Ben Kosel as Secretary. At the meeting the organization laid out plans for the coming 2016 campaign year. “I am proud to serve as Chair of our organization and look forward to gaining more Latino voters to the Republican party,” stated De la Paz.
New HRAMN Chair Maria de la Paz and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
State Senator Hann addressed the meeting attendees about the current legislative proposals being promoted by the Republicans at the State Capitol. “Senate Republicans oppose the gas tax increase that Democrats favor for transportation funding. They want to use surplus money and existing sales tax revenue,” Hann stated. Outgoing HRAMN Chair, Frank Mendez stated, “we are very pleased to have this great group of new officers, they are energetic and dedicated to growing the membership and increasing the number of Hispanic Republican elected officials.” Mendez will remain on the board and serve as a member of several committees.
Carlos Font, 22, interned with two professional sports teams in Oklahoma City before joining the Twins as a Spanish-language interpreter.
By Claud Santiago
Carlos Font is the first-ever Spanish interpreter for the Twins.
Font, 22, graduated from Southern Nazarene University in 2015 and spent the past year interning for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Font moved to Florida with his family at age 14. A year later they settled in Moore, Oklahoma.
Font is among the first interpreters to start work under Major League Baseball’s new subsidized program to improve communication and media opportunities for Latino players.
The Twins have a strong contingent of Spanish-speaking players, led by Miguel Sano, Ervin Santana and Eddie Rosario.
Commissioner Rob Manfred recently explained the impetus behind adding Spanish interpreters on all 30 clubs.
“It was a topic we talked to the MLBPA about for some time,” he said of the players’ union. “I did go around last year and I spoke to every team in the clubhouse, and I noticed a problem in terms of language.
For the first time, all 30 teams will be required to hire an interpreter fluent in Spanish and English. The interpreter will be present in the clubhouse before and after games to facilitate interaction with the media, teammates and club employees.
During batting practice and games, the interpreter will be available on the field and in the dugout, which should improve the flow of communication immensely between managers and coaches and an ever-growing talent base from Latin America.
The new hire must be in place by Opening Day.
“I am proud of our Hispanic players,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “They try. And we bring them through our system and they’re required to go to English classes. It’s been an ongoing process. In the big leagues, there are certain players that I think really want the help, and we should provide that. It’s just the right thing to do.”
But until now, players from Spanish-speaking countries often had to fend for themselves. If they were fortunate enough to have a bilingual coach on the staff, as the Twins do with assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez and previously did with bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar (2013-14), the transition would be eased somewhat.
Yet, even with that safeguard, many Latino players have struggled to bridge the language gap with their potential fan base, costing them untold millions over the years in endorsements and other marketing opportunities.
“Sometimes we’re shy to speak with somebody because of the language,” said Nunez, 28. “We worry that we make too many mistakes to speak (publicly). Sometimes you ask me a question and I feel a different way, but when I respond to the question you might understand something different than what I want to say.”
More than a quarter of the Twins’ 40-man roster primarily speaks Spanish. That includes rising big-league stars such as Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, and top pitching prospect Jose Berrios could join them soon.
Greg Ryan, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in the 4th District
By Claud Santiago
Visiting El Bravo Mexican Restaurant on Rice Street off of University Avenue in St. Paul, Greg Ryan candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in the 4th District, pledged his support for the Hispanic business community and commends their great achievements and the important role they play in the Twin Cities economic growth. With Ryan for this visit is Rick Aguilar, a Twin Cities business leader and one of the founders of the Minnesota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Chair of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in the year 2000. Ryan commented that “ Multicultural business owners Hispanic, Asian American and other immigrant groups have transformed the University Avenue cooridor from what in the 1970s had become a decaying urban wasteland, home to closed businesses and boarded up storefronts, to the thriving commercial district it is today.” Immigrant business owners are realizing the American Dream and Ryan is on a mission to make sure that the dream stays alive. His vision for Minnesota is to help small businesses like those on University Avenue grow and create more jobs. Ryan commented to Aguilar on the “wonderful ecomomic development that has happened in this area.” “ The enterprise and hard work of the Immigrant business owners has produced positive results for University Avenue,” Ryan commented.
Greg Ryan feels that the University Avenue corridor with the addition of the new Green Line Light Rail system represents an important change for St.Paul and offers new opportunities for the Immigrant business community in the 4th district. Many business corridors in St. Paul, like Payne Avenue and Cesar Chavez Street have seen Hispanic immigrants take advantage of the “American Dream” and the chance to open their own businesses and create jobs in the community. Ryan know that they need less regulations and lower taxes to be able to grow. Ryan understands the importance of the immigrant communities and what they can contribute to Minnesota’s economy. In his own words Ryan stated, “I want to keep the American Dream alive for the immigrant communities and make Minnesota a state where business thrives and immigrants get the opportunity to contribute and make a difference.”
Musician and bandleader Kico Rangel
By Rick Aguilar
For the past sixty-five years, Francisco “Kico” Rangel, “saxophonist extraordinaire” has performed in the Twin Cities. Kico is a unique musician and bandleader who has kept his roots and plays his traditional style of Mexican music while still having the skill and chops to play Jazz, Rock n Roll, Calypso, Middle Eastern, Hawaiian, Latin American, and big band gigs. This musical ability and the fact that he is reliable (shows up on time for the gig) and reads music put Kico on the call list for bandleaders, music bookers and concert producers all throughout his musical career.
Pictured left: Kico Rangel, age 16
Kico was born and raised on the West Side Flats in St. Paul. At age thirteen Kico decided he wanted to play saxophone, after listening to the many talented musicians and performers who lived on the West Side back in the ‘50s. Joe Medina, a bandleader and sax player, was one of Kico’s first influences in music and would be the band Kico played with as he started his musical career at age fifteen.
Kico’s family members were performers, singers, and dancers who were the pride of the Latino community on the West Side. Kico and his six sisters, performed at countless events and to thousands of fans for decades.
Kico gave me my start back in the late ‘50s, offering me the opportunity to sing with his Rock n Roll band at the Crystal Ballroom in Minneapolis. Wow, that was a thrill and throughout the years we performed together with the legendary Jaymars.
Pictured left: Kico with his sisters, Genevieve and Maria
Kico is a very low key collaborator, who never brags about himself and is a team player in any band or group the he has performed with. To this day, Kico is still busy playing 2-4 gigs a week; he looks great and sounds wonderful with that full sound of his saxophone that is his trademark.
In the history of the Latino community in Minnesota, Kico will always be remembered for performing for our weddings, baptisms, birthdays, community events, and for playing our traditional Mexican music for our religious celebrations and at our funerals when we grieved for family members who had passed. Happy Birthday Kico…thanks for all your wonderful music and for keeping our musical traditions alive.
Presidential candidate Marco Rubio
By Claud Santiago
History is being made with two Hispanic Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both running for President of the United States in 2016. Both candidates are articulate and passionate on all the issues, they represent a new generation of political leaders and both are considered having a good chance to get the endorsement from the Republican party.
The Hispanic Republican Assembly of Minnesota (HRAMN) is an organization that was founded in 2004 and is an affliate of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Richard Aguilar, who was born and raised in St. Paul, is one of the members of HRAMN. Aguilar is a long time Republican activists and is seen as an party insider. He was a key supporter and confidant to former Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty and nationally is well known in Republican circles. “These are exciting and challenging times for the Latino community” Aguilar stated. “Having two Latinos in contention for the Presidency is a game changer and should lead to more Latino community members wanting to get involved in politics.
Frank Mendez, who is current Chairman of the HRAMN announced that at the November 23, 2015 meeting of the HRAMN executive board members they voted to endorse Senator Rubio.
HRAMN endorses Rubio. HRAMN Excutive Committee. L to R: Anthony Torres, Andrew Noble, Maria de la Paz, and Frank Mendez.
“Marco Rubio’s bid for President of the United States amongst a collective group of well qualified Republican Candidates gave our committee a lot to think about. In the end, Marco’s clarity of thought and consistency in his communication skills stands him in front, as a leader of today and the future. He is a well defined contrast between tiring beltline political leaders and a youthful energetic, hope filled ,living example of The American Dream. Marco Rubio is our next generation conservative candidate with well known humble origins , who reflects and identifies with the daily challenges of the average American. He is a proven leader with great listening and communication skills. His ability to support, understand and articulate knowledge of foreign affairs with leadership skills is second to no other , including supporting Israel. His domestic concerns for keeping America Safe, our national debt , higher education , border security , welfare reform , replacing Obamacare , the faith community , have been well stated and are perfectly clear. Marco Rubio is a great example of what a Conservative is today” stated Chairman Mendez.
Maria de la Paz, who is the HRAMN Vice President and the most well known Latina in Minnesota Republican party circles, also praised Rubio and shared Chairman Mendez’s recommendations and looks forward to campaigning for Rubio. Other executive committee members include Anthony Torres and Andrew Noble, Secretary.
L to R: Executive Committee of the MN-NLPOA: Frank Ortiz, Ben Ellringer, Alix Chance, Carlos Escobar, and Pete Ortega
By Rick Aguilar
The National Latino Peace Officers Association was founded in the early 1970’s by John Parraz, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and Vicente Calderon, California Highway Patrol, San Jose Office. Since then the organization has become one of the largest Latino Officer Association in America, with NLPOA Chapters across the nation. The Mission of the association is to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the Criminal Justice System (particularly in law enforcement). To create a fraternal/professional association that provides support, advocacy, personal and professional development to its members. To prevent and reduce juvenile delinquency; and lessen neighborhood tension in the Latino communities, through awareness and role modeling, provide bi-lingual assistance to the public, and bridge the gap between the Latino community and the police.
The National Latino Peace Officers Association Minnesota Chapter (MN-NLPOA) was established in 2002 by a group of police officers who shared the vision and mission of the national organization. Today the Minnesota Chapter has been active in our community, participating in events such as Menudo Run & Walk Family 5K, Adopt a Family, MPD PAL Soccer Game, La Familia Latino Family Festival & Expo, where the Chapter has a booth and provides family and children safety tips, The Youth Initiative Aviation Academy (YIAA) Mentoring, and recruiting law enforcement students. Juan Cervantes, a local businessman who has a State Farm Insurance Agency in St. Paul, has been active as a business advisor with the Minnesota Chapter. “One of the many goals is for the association to develop communication and trust with the communities where our Latino officers serve” Cervantes stated. “I’ve been proud to sponsor the MN-NLPOA at the La Familia festival, where we get to meet and form friendships with the Latino Community.”
The current executive committee of the Minnesota Chapter includes Frank Ortiz, St. Paul Police Department, Vice President, Ben Ellringer, Metro Transit Police Department, Secretary, Alix Chance, St. Paul Police Department, Sargent at Arms, Carlos Escobar, Minneapolis Police Department, Treasurer and Pete Ortega, MN State Patrol, President. Thanks to the all the members of the MN-NLPOA.
Attendees at the Latino Education Summit
By Rick Aguilar
Latino students in the Twin Cities are not closing achievement gaps in reading and math despite the fact that according to new data two-thirds of Minnesota schools are making progress.
Minnesota has the largest achievement gap in the U.S. between white students and students of color. Latinos continue to drop out of high school at alarming rates as this crisis threatens the future of the Latino community and the workforce supply for the future in Minnesota. Education is the key to success for all Latino students and yet despite various programs and millions of dollars spent by the public schools, our Latino graduation rates continue to hover at fifty percent or less.
What do the public schools in the Twin Cities need to do to change this situation? Where are the Latino leaders and what are their strategies and solutions to this crisis?
For four years, the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts have declined to participate in the Minnesota Education Department’s Regional Centers of Excellence, a program that puts experts in struggling schools, where they can offer training and support in meeting goals. Why do public schools in the Twin Cities refuse to participate in this program, when the program is producing good results at schools that do participate?
All these questions and the fact that no solutions appear to be making a difference lead to one fact, we need to look at different options...all options should be on the table. School choice is being promoted by many political leaders, education advocates, and education reform organizations and seems to be gaining support by many in the Latino community. Other options are being developed that will be presented in our Legislative sessions in 2016 that should be considered and approved.
This past August 8th, the Latino Education Achievement Gap Summit was held at the Neighborhood House in St. Paul. Over 100 attendees made up of political leaders both Democrat and Republican, superintendents from public and private schools, business and community leaders, education advocates, education reform organizations, and Latino youth leaders attended. Many of the participants expressed their concern and for some, outrage, that this crisis exists in Minnesota. Panelists discussed strategies and exchanged ideas and successful programs were presented and discussed. It was a very productive Summit according to organizers. The next Summit is being planned for February 2016.
Although a long list of Latino leaders were invited, very few attended! The Latino community needs to step up and take on this crisis with all the energy and passion they can put forward. The future of the Latino community is at stake.
First picture: Attendees at the Latino Education Summit. Left to right: Back row, Hector Garcia, Valeria Silva, Carlos Gallego, Frank Mendez, Col. Sandy Best, Rick Aguilar, Carissa Ontiveros, Kassandra de la Cruz, Myra Huerta Bueno, Elia Bruggeman Rep. Jon Koznick, and Carmen Robles. Lewis Dixon (pictured in the front)
Second picture: Left to right: Sen. Dan Hall (R), Rep. Sondra Erickson (R), Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R), Amy Koch, Barbara Malzacher, and Shawn Peterson attended the Latino Education Achievement Gap Summit.
Pictured above: Rep. Jon Koznick
By Claud Santiago
For the first time in Minnesota history the Minnesota House of Representatives has two Latino Republican lawmakers. They were both elected in 2014.
Rep. Jon Koznick was born in the South American country of Colombia. When he was just five years old his mom died. He didn’t have a dad, and an older sister didn’t have the means to care for him. Fortunately, he was adopted by an American family after a short time in an orphanage He grew up in Anoka and studied at St. Cloud State University, where he received a degree in Marketing.
Rep. Koznick serves District 58A and the people of Lakeville. Koznick and his wife, Patty, moved from Eagan to Lakeville in 2001 and have two daughters, ages 9 and 7. He works at Provincial Bank and is involved in several community organizations including the Lakeville Chamber of Commerce, All Saints Church and the Rotary Club. Koznick was campaign manager for former Rep. Mary Liz Holberg.
Rep. Koznick serves on the Property Tax and Local Government Finance Divisions, Taxes and Transportation Policy and Finance committees in the House. He is also the Republican Liaison to the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs.
“I have always had an appreciation for the democratic process and representative government,” said Koznick. “I like being involved in our community and getting involved in things that affect us and are around us. I was always thinking in the back of my mind it’s a blessing to live in this great country.” Koznick explained. He is very concerned about the Latino Achievement Gap and wants to see that each child in Minnesota receives a great education.
Rep. Eric Lucero represents District 30B, which includes the communities of Albertville, Hanover, St. Michael, Otsego, and the Wright County portion of Dayton. Lucero lives in Dayton, Minnesota with Erum, his wife of 17 years.
Rep. Eric Lucero
Lucero’s professional career includes more than a decade experience in the computer security & data privacy field, seven years teaching college level computer security related courses. Lucero is also an entrepreneur and small business owner, a licensed real estate agent and licensed general contractor, and previously was a City Council Member in the City of Dayton.
Rep. Lucero’s committee assignments in the House include the: Education Innovation Policy, Public Safety, Transportation, and Mining and Outdoor Recreation. Lucero also uses his computer security background to serve on the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Data Privacy.
“We need to ensure state government policies empower and encourage people to hard work and achieve the American Dream,” Lucero said. “As a teacher myself, I am working hard to ensure everyone has access to the highest degree education opportunities and school choice.” Lucero strongly believes one of the best ways Latino students can achieve their dreams is by closing the education opportunity gap.
Both Lucero and Koznick see the need to help the growing Latino business community with fewer regulations, lower taxes and healthcare they can afford.
Lucero and Koznick represent a strong group of young Republican candidates that helped the Republican Party take control of the House in 2014. They helped outreach initiatives to grow the Republican Party with their Hispanic ethnicity and articulating the values of Individual Liberty, Free Market Capitalism, and Limited Government. They are pro-life, pro-family, and believe in protecting equal opportunity for all. They are Republicans because their beliefs most align with the Republican Party. Lucero and Koznick will help the Latino community in Minnesota by addressing the concerns and protecting the future of the next generation.
Pictured right: Aida Pinero
The La Familia Hispanic Heritage Awards will be presented to deserving Latino community members at the 13th Annual La Familia Latino Festival & Expo that will be held at the Neighborhood House, located in St. Paul, on Saturday, August 8th from 11am to 3pm. These community members are being honored for their work they do in the community that brings recognition to the Hispanic culture and community.
The Awards will be presented from noon to 1pm on the Festival Stage and the event is free and open to the public. The commendations will be presented to the following individuals.
Juan Cervantes, owner of Juan Cervantes State Farm Agency in St. Paul. Juan is a business leader who has volunteered for many years with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in promoting economic development in the Hispanic community.
Pablo Basques is an artist who has dedicated his work to bring awareness and recognition to the contributions of the Hispanic culture and community. Pablo is a Vietnam veteran who is a member of the Post #5 Mexican American Veterans.
Top right, from left to right: Juan Cervantes, Gladys Rodriguez, Henry Capiz. Bottom row: Martha (Mardi) Dominguez and Pablo Basques
Aida Pinero, works for U.S. Bank and has been a leader in raising funds for the American Heart Association. Aida brings much awareness to the Hispanic community of this disease and the importance to learn more about the symptoms to look for. Henry Capiz, of St. Paul, a veteran who served his country and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. In his professional life, Henry was the Chief Pharmacist at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Paul.
Martha (Mardi) Dominguez is the Family and Community Director for Academia Cesar Chavez, a position she’s held since the school opened 15 years ago. Mardi has 36 years of experience in the field of family and community education. Gladys Rodriguez works for the Chicano Latino Affairs Council serving as the secretary and receptionist. Gladys and her tremendous passion and professionalism have made a vital difference to the success of the organization throughout the years.
History Theatre premieres a new musical, River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story
History Theatre will produce the world premiere of a new musical by local playwright Joe Minjares and directed by Raul Ramos. River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story explores the life and musica of a man whose infectious smile, generous spirit, and incredible talent—along with his trademark Bermuda shorts—made him a Minnesota music legend.
It's 1956. One hot summer night, returning Korean war veteran Augie Garcia got off the bus, put a dime in a pay phone, and put a band together that upstaged Elvis with an opening act so rockin' that Colonel Parker kicked them off the stage of the St. Paul Auditorium. The Augie Garcia Quintet became regulars at the River Road Club and man, did they know how to stir up the crowd—"Hey Augie," shouted piano player Cornbread Harris at the cool cat with the Bermuda shorts, "Step up on this here piano and give 'em what they want! Hi Ho Silver! And a 1 – and 2 – and..."
The Godfather of Minnesota Rock 'n Roll took the sounds of his Mexican background and mixed them with rhythm and blues, creating a style like no other. Turn back the clock and join us for a night of boogie-woogie – Let the Good Times Roll, baby!
"Music was changing from jazz, blues and gospel to a newness of energy that was evolving into rock and roll, and Augie's group was on the forefront," said director Raul Ramos in the St. Paul Voice. "They called it 'junk blues,' the purgatory before rock 'n' roll."
Augie Garcia Quintet, 1950
"For Augie, it was the power of music and the joy of that music gave him that brought order and happiness to his life and to those who heard him play," shared Ron Peluso, History Theatre Artistic Director. "When playwright Joe Minjares and I talked about developing this play, the Korean War Veteran's experience became important to us – it's part of the American experience that too often gets lost in the shuffle.
Augie was a Minnesota original. With his generous spirit and music, Garcia developed his love for music from rhythm and blues from the Spanish corridos and boleros of his parents' generation. Understanding how music influenced his family is important to Minjares. "Memory is a funny thing. We remember the good things," said Minjares in the St. Paul Voice. This play will share the legendary music and the story of Augie and his band.
Ivey-Award winning actor Ricardo Vasquez will portray Augie Garcia in this new musical premiering May 2 at History Theatre.
River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story will premiere Saturday, May 2, 2015 as part of the 2014-15 season. For tickets, please call box office at 651-292-4323 or visit www.historytheatre.com.
By Marci Malzahn
I believe in mentoring. It changes people’s lives. You want to make a difference? You want to impact someone’s life? You want to leave a legacy? Mentor someone.
I am not a formal mentor or mentee but I have mentors that, throughout my life helped me in my personal life, spiritual life, and in my career. I have also mentored over 15 young adults during high school, their college years, and while entering the workforce. I helped them with interviewing skills, preparing their resumes, negotiating salaries, getting promotions, connecting them to potential employers, and coaching them through work situations once employed. I also coached and mentored “grownups” when going through transitions at work or switching careers. The little help I provided impacted their lives in various ways.
My mentors helped me get through transitions in my own life, most recently leaving a ten-year job at a bank I helped start and launching my own bank consulting firm, Malzahn Strategic. I encourage you to look for a mentor, someone who is wiser than you and that can help you become all you can be. Seek for a mentor who wants to share her or his life experiences with you, a person who is willing to share her or his mistakes as well as the successes. As a Latina woman leader, you need a mentor.
Mentoring is powerful. That’s why I volunteered to be on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities Board (BBBSGTC). I started serving three and a half years ago in the Finance Committee, then Executive Committee, and now I serve as the Board Chair. As I start my two-year term, I pondered about this great opportunity to help lead an organization that transforms young people’s lives forever. In the process, I got inspired to write this article and share my enthusiasm with you so you can partake of this experience too.
BBBSGTC is led by my friend and great leader, Gloria Lewis. BBBSGTC is the sixth largest agency in the nation and mentors over 2,000 children. Based on data and research at this agency, only 10% of Littles and 2% of Bigs in the program are Hispanic/Latinos. Of the 2,000 children (Littles), 56% are female and 44% are male and 58% of the Bigs are female and 42% are males. When measuring development outcomes at this agency, 94% of the youth improved or maintained their scholastic competence, 84% have higher educational expectations, 94% feel more accepted by their peers, and 90% of children mentored increased their motivation to continue their education or job training beyond high school. At the National level, youth that participates in the BBBS mentoring program are 75% more likely to receive a college degree, 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, and 52% less likely to skip school.
Pictured left: Gloria Lewis
There are opportunities to get involved and make a lifetime impact in a young person’s life through BBBS. Become a Big and mentor a girl or boy. They are looking for Latinas (and Latinos) who speak Spanish too. If you don’t want to or have the time to be in a formal mentoring program, then do it informally. But mentor someone! It is the best way to give back to the younger generation and to pass on your own wisdom. Mentoring is a way to show the young men and women that they are valuable and that they can too make a difference in the world.
As Latina women leaders, we need to encourage the younger Latinas that are coming behind us. We need to impart in them what we learned during our lives and help them prepare to succeed in the working environment. I challenge you to take the initiative to mentor a young Latina girl or young adult and enjoy the journey of seeing a life being transformed right in front of your eyes.
By Julián Aguirre
Visiting El Burrito Mercado on Cesar Chavez Street in St. Paul, Louis Garcia candidate for Ward 2 Saint Paul City Council, reminisced about his experiences with his father in the neighborhood. “My father was one of the first Latin music disc jockeys in Minnesota. We promoted his business by placing posters on poles and walls along Concord Street and we would visit with the local business owners,” Garcia commented.
Garcia is seeking to become the first Latino elected to the Saint Paul City Council. Born in the Mexican state of Veracruz, he immigrated to America as a child in 1984. Garcia grew up in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul and the city has been his home for over 20 years. He lives in the West Side neighborhood with his wife, Nicole, and his two young children, Mick and Natalia.
Garcia has worked in Information Technology for the past decade and started a website development business in 2011. He has concerns about equity within the industry, “Latinos are tragically underrepresented within the Information Technology industry. I want to change that. I want to see more opportunities open for all unrepresented communities to develop the skills needed and break in to this high-demand industry.”
The Garcia for Saint Paul campaign platform consists of making Saint Paul more competitive in the 21st century, developing stronger communities, and increasing government transparency. Garcia’s priority is to invest on city infrastructure and roll out high-speed broadband, fiber optic. Garcia explains, “Fiber optic will fuel economic growth by attracting more businesses and residents to the city and leveling the playing field for home-based businesses and entrepreneurs looking to open their doors. Saint Paul can’t fall further behind to Minneapolis, other regional cities, and within the global economy.”
Garcia acknowledges that while Minnesota is a great place to live for many, there are still profound disparities that still exist today for minority communities in education, housing, and poverty. Garcia believes that being born into an immigrant family and owning a small business gives him a unique perspective on city politics. He made an appeal to a gathering at El Burrito Mercado, “I will bring a fresh perspective to city hall. I will develop innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities our city faces. I will work to empower and protect all communities so that Saint Paul is a place where people thrive.”
View more about the Garcia for Saint Paul campaign at http://www.g4sp.com
Keith Downey, Chair, Republican Party of Minnesota
By Keith Downey
The recent immigration debate has centered on President Obama’s executive order. The need for immigration reform is real, and Republicans believe it is very important to get it right through legislation, passed by Congress and signed by the President so it will last.
However, as the immigration debate moves forward, Latino leaders have recently questioned whether there is an over-emphasis on immigration as the defining Latino issue. Cristina Beltrán, associate professor at New York University, said, “Immigration should be one step in understanding the Latino community… Instead it has become the end-all.”Recent polling confirms her assessment. The issues that consistently rank as the top three priorities for Hispanic voters are education, jobs, and health insurance.
Let’s face it, public schools in Minnesota’s urban areas are failing minority students. No statistics can tell the story better than the parent whose child receives a sub-par education and is stuck in a dead-end, failing school. Republicans believe all children deserve better than that—and that includes Latino children.
The American Dream was built on the belief that everyone has the opportunity for success if they work hard. Republicans are committed to making the American dream of good jobs and maximum opportunity available to everyone, regardless of whether one’s family has lived here for 100 years or 1 year.
Last year, one in eight Minnesota Latinos did not have health insurance. This year, MNsure isn’t even enrolling enough people to make the program financially viable. We can do better. Republicans are working for high quality health care at an affordable price. It is possible, and we can do it.
Republicans are advocating for policies that benefit all Latinos – on education, jobs, health care, and immigration. We cannot lose sight of the main issues and solutions that will propel the Latino community, now the largest minority group in the United States, to well-earned success.
We invite you to join the cause. With your help and your input we will make Minnesota a better place for everyone!
Christmas Tree Lighting Events
There are more than enough Twin Cities activities to keep your family busy this holiday season. From light displays to Christmas Tree Farms, performances to family outings – you’ll find something to entertain you and your kiddos and keep everyone in the holiday spirit!
Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (Shoreview)
November 20th | 6-7pm. This annual community event will again feature caroling from the Turtle Lake Elementary School choir, followed by the lighting of the trees outside of the Shoreview Community Center and Shoreview Commons Park. Refreshments will be served in the Wedell Community Room after the ceremony.
Holiday Lights in the Park (Lake Phalen, St. Paul)
November 25th – January 1st | 5:30-10pm nightly. Minnesota’s largest drive-through lights display wraps around Lake Phalen in St. Paul with more than 60 larger than life holiday light sculptures and animated displays. Tickets are $10 dollars per vehicle.
Winter Lighting Ceremony (Nicollet Commons Park – Burnsville)
November 26th | 6pm. Burnsville’s Heart of the City will once again shine with holiday lights this winter season when the area is set aglow during the community’s 16th-Annual Winter Lighting Ceremony. You’re invited to attend the ceremony, stroll through the lights, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy entertainment and free cookies and candy canes.
November 28th – December 24th. Holidazzle Village, located on Nicollet Mall from 12th Street to 10th Street, is free to the public and will give a fresh feel to the Holidazzle experience. The Holidazzle Village will include a variety of entertainment opportunities and festivities for all ages to enjoy throughout the season.
European Christmas Market (St. Paul)
November 28th-30th | Times vary. The new European Christmas Market is based on the traditional, charming, open air markets in Germany and Austria during the Advent season.
Tree Lighting Ceremony (50th and France – Edina)
November 29th | 3-5pm. As you stroll the area, enjoy the festive sounds of the Chamber Singers of Edina High School and visits with Santa. Leading up to the grand tree lighting with City of Edina Mayor at 5:00 p.m on West 50th Street.
Rice Park Tree Lighting (St. Paul)
November 29th | 4-6pm. Last year Rice Park captured the spirit of the holiday season with a tree as tall and bright as the iconic Rockefeller Center tree in New York City. The gigantic tree was lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with 15,000 energy-efficient LED lights. Join them for this year’s tree lighting as the park will sparkle with millions of twinkling lights, classic Nutcracker and angel statues, and other holiday décor.
Prior Lake Downtown Dazzle
December 4th | 5-9pm. Shops & Businesses will be Open till 9 p.m. Check them all out, enjoy specials, treats, and beverages along the way. Sing along with carolers, warm your fingers and toes by the bonfires. Food trucks and photo stations are also available as well as a parade, Santa, fireworks, free candy, and more.
Sleigh Bells and Sparkles (Maple Grove)
December 6th | 5pm. Parade route runs north on Main Street downtown Maple Grove from the corner of Schuler Shoes to the Maple Grove Government Center. Culminating the end of the parade, please join Santa & Mrs. Claus as they magically light the holiday tree at the corner of Main Street and Arbor Lakes Parkway.
Anoka Christmas Tree Lighting
December 6th | 5-7pm. Come and get into the spirit of the season at the Annual Anoka Christmas Tree Lighting Event. The event will be held in the City Hall Parking Lot Plaza in historic downtown Anoka. There will be bonfires, Santa will meet FREE with children, free horse drawn carriage rides are available and of course we’ll light up the tree. It’s a great event for the whole family!
Chanhassen Christmas Tree Lighting
December 6th | 5pm. Don’t miss this annual Chanhassen celebration! The event is FREE for everyone and will be held at City Center Park (on the corner of West 78th Street and Market Boulevard). Come and enjoy the lighting of the holiday tree, refreshments, live reindeer, gingerbread house displays and, of course, a special visit from Santa Claus!
From left: Antonio Sacin, SHPE-TC with R. Jeb Myers, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
By Antonio Sacin
In South Minneapolis, a group of Hispanic professional engineers under the direction of Alejandro Sanchez, an engineering consultant at Target, were busy setting up an event for Hispanic children and their families. This group of engineers is part of a national network known as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) from which they are part of the Twin Cities Minnesota chapter. The chapter is in operation since 1992 but has been doing a Noche de Ciencias event for the last three years. Noche de Ciencias is an event that seeks to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) within the Hispanic community. The first Noches event, as it has become known among the teachers and students, resulted in the formation of a SHPE Jr. chapter at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a school that fits the target demographic being 77% Hispanic. That partnership has lasted for three years and has seen some of the students from the original Noches graduate and form new SHPE university chapters, one of them at the University of St. Thomas. One of these students, Angel Paucar, now from St. Thomas and a graduate of Cristo Rey gave his testimonial to younger students about his career aspirations in the field of engineering.
The President of the SHPE Twin Cities Professional chapter (SHPE-TC), Antonio Sacin, opened the event calling for students and their parents to envision a future within the career of engineer or the sciences. He added that it is a great possibility to achieve this and that SHPE-TC and SHPE have the resources to make it happen. SHPE-TC is currently being sponsored by companies such as 3M, Hormel and Medtronic, the latter of which has a network of SHPE engineers organized as a group of interest within their company. They participated as volunteers as well as SHPE university chapters from the University of Minnesota and Century College, which is opening up a new chapter. SHPE-TC is a 501c(3) corporation and gives scholarships every year to deserving Hispanic engineer students. This year, it is set to double its contribution from $3,000 to $6,000 with the recent addition of Medtronic as a sponsor.
It is not only students that learn and get inspired during Noches, there is a workshop for the parents as well. This year, SHPE-TC was able to bring over the Hispanic Outreach Liaison from the University of Minnesota who spoke to the parents about how to make the best financial choices when helping their children with a career in engineering. There were financial comparisons with the cost and what other resources exist. At the same time, the students were getting exposed with their engineering skills building mini-catapults and participating in an ‘build your own roller coaster’ event.
Left to right: Celso de la Rosa, SHPE; William Flores & Manny Hernandez, Jovenes de Salud; Antonio Sacin, SHPE; Rick Aguilar; and Carissa Ontiveros, Jovenes de Salud
The event concluded with a demonstration by Dr. Annette Raigoza, chemistry professor from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University on the real-life properties of atoms in graphite by showing different samples from her portable probe microscope. Parents and students alike interviewed at the event showed their gratitude for SHPE bringing career professionals and academics to depart with the students and their families for a Noche de Ciencias.
Speaking of resources, SHPE is experienced in bringing opportunities to university engineering students. Every year, at a National Conference, there are career fairs that attract thousands of Hispanic engineering students, and the companies that are seeking their talent. It is a potent match, which results in a win-win situation. The students benefit in finding their first job, the companies benefit from creating a more diverse environment. This year SHPE National Conference is in Detroit and sponsored by General Motors, a company that is seeking to expand its presence once again in the Motor City and has sponsored the revival of the local Detroit SHPE chapter.
The night ended with the drawing of prizes for the students and their families.
More information about SHPE-TC can be found at http://www.shpetwincities.org
Sharna Wahlgren (second from right) with Rick Aguilar (far right)
By Claud Santiago
Visiting the Bymore Supermercado on Payne Avenue in St. Paul, Sharna Wahlgren candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota’s Fourth District, pledges her support for the Hispanic business community and commends their great achievements and the important role they play in Minnesota’s economic growth. With Wahlgren for this visit and tour is Rick Aguilar, a Twin Cities business leader and one of the founders of the Minnesota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the 80’s and former Chair of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Hispanic business owners transformed this area from what in the 1980’s had become a decaying urban wasteland, home to closed businesses and boarded up storefronts, to the thriving commercial district it is today. It is the realization of the American Dream and Wahlgren is on a mission to make sure that the dream stays alive. Her vision for Minnesota is to help small businesses like those on Payne Avenue grow and create more jobs. Wahlgren commented to Aguilar on the “wonderful ecomomic development that has happened in this area.” Without the enterprise and hard work of the Hispanic business owners none of this would have ever been possible,” Wahlgren commented.
Wahlgren knows full well that the Hispanic business corridors on Payne Aveune and Cesar Chavez street in Saint Paul and the E. Lake Street area in Minneapolis represent the important role the Hispanic business community plays in the ecomonic growth in the Twin Cities. These business corridors were left mostly abandoned following an exodus to the suburbs in the 70’s and late 80’s but the Hispanic immigrants didn’t see abandoned corridors, they saw the opportunity, they saw the “American Dream” and the chance to open their own businesses and create jobs in the community.
Sharna Wahlgren visiting Bymore Supermercado
Listening to the concerns of these business owners on this day, Wahlgren understands that they need to be able to grow, get more capital and be burdened less by regulations. Wahlgren understands the importance of the immigrant communities and what they can contribute to Minnesota’s economy. In her own words Wahlgren stated, “I want to keep the American Dream alive for the immigrant communities and make Minnesota a state where business thrives, all children get a great education and immigrants get the opportunity to live the good life that Minnesota offers for us all.”
Watch the Grupo de Danzas Colombianas MN perform!
La Familia Hispanic Heritage Awards will be presented at noon to Hispanic individuals who have contributed to the community and promoted their culture and values. The recipients are the following:
Sam Hernandez, Diversity Consultant and Community Activist
Dennis Medina, Minnesota Army National Guard
Jovenes de Salud: Youth Leaders: Manny Hernandez, Cecilia Marquina, Carissa Ontiveros and Nicolas Masco
ALSO VISIT THESE BOOTHS:
• USTA Northern Hispanic Outreach at the Tennis Area for Kids
• Jobs and Careers, Country Financial at Booth #12
• Juan Cervantez State Farm Agency in collaboration with the MN Chapter Latino Police Officer Association, providing photos and fingerprinting of children for their parents at Booths #25 and # 26
• Minnesota Twins, special Twins items for the kids at Booth #22
Visit the Minnesota Twins at Booth #22!
• Special Guest: Irene Viveros, Miss Latina Minnesota 2014
• Visit with KSTC-TV 45 at Booth #11
• AARP information for seniors at Booth #13
• West Side Community Health Services, health and wellness information, family planning, MNsure information and testing at Booth #15
La Familia 2014 Schedule:
11:00am-11:30am: Welcome Rick Aguilar, Aguilar Productions
11:30am-12:00pm: Academia Cesar Chavez Mariachi
12:00pm-1:00pm: Hispanic Heritage Awards Presentation
1:00pm-1:30pm: Grupo Danza de Coloumbianos MN.
2:00pm-3:00pm: Zumba Presentations
3:00pm-4:00pm: DJ Music
Primary Election Day on Tuesday, August 12, is fast approaching. The primary will determine candidates for the November 4 General Election ballot. While the voter pre-registration period ended on July 22, eligible voters may still register to vote at their polling place on Primary Election Day. Eligible voters may continue to pre-register for the November 4 General Election through October 14 by using online voter registration at mnvotes.org, or registering by mail.
To register at your polling place on Election Day, bring a valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit or ID card. Additionally, voters may use other accepted photo IDs accompanied by a document such as a utility bill that shows the voter’s name and current address. To see all the options, visit mnvotes.org and click on “Register to Vote.” At the website, voters also may check the status of their registration, find the location of their polling place and more.
Voter Outreach Team, Tools Available in Spanish
A voter outreach team from the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State is available to help companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, government agencies and others engage and prepare eligible voters for participation in the 2014 election season.
The goal of the outreach effort is to encourage voter participation during this significant election year: On November 4, Minnesota voters will head to the polls to decide a U.S. Senate seat, all of Minnesota’s eight U.S. House seats, as well as governor and other state officers, and all Minnesota State House seats. There will be many important local and county elections on the ballot as well in 2014.
Interested organizations can request “Promote the Vote” workshops, voter registration information, as well as educational voter materials — many available in Spanish. All materials are available at no charge at mnvotes.org, including promotional videos.
Maria de la Paz (pictured left) is one of the five voter outreach specialists from the office who are working this summer to encourage voter participation and engagement. De la Paz will focus her efforts on Latino communities to educate eligible voters about the voting process and help with voter registration. Groups can connect directly with de la Paz via email, email@example.com, or call her at (651)201-1362.
Key 2014 Election Dates
• August 12 — Primary Election Day. This election will determine the candidates for the November 4 ballot. The voter pre-registration period has ended, but eligible voters may still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day.
• September 19 — Absentee ballots will be available for the November 4 General Election.
• October 14 — Pre-registration deadline for the General Election. Voters are encouraged to pre-register to vote to avoid a wait at the polling place. Voters who miss this deadline may still register at their polling place on Election Day, November 4.
• November 4 — General Election Day.
Minnesota has the depressing distinction of having the highest drop-out rate for high school Latinos in the country. So it’s wonderful to feature this outstanding young Latina, Estela Mejia (pictured left).
Latino American Today recently met with Estela Mejia, who arrived in Minnesota only 6 years ago from Honduras, with her family. Estela recently graduated from high school as the Number #1 Valedictorian in her school and a GPA of 3.98. She gave the keynote commencement speech and honored God for her success. Latino American Today asked her the following questions:
* LAT: How did you overcome the language barrier when you started school in the U.S. (Minnesota)
I overcame the language barrier by staying after school with my teachers in middle school. Also during classes I would listen to books and also read vocabulary books with images. I did not sit in the cafeteria with the other kids, I went to my teacher’s classroom and ate there while watching movies in English. My teacher put on movies that I knew in Spanish so that when I heard in English I would know what was said. Lastly, I remember that my dad made my brother and me translate a paragraph of a book every night by using the dictionary and then read it to him.
*LAT: What or who motivated you to study and have the success you’ve had.
The most important person is God. I know that he always wants the best for me and that through the struggles that I went through he was with me. My family always told me to study to become someone and I have seen how hard they have worked to bring the bread to the table every day and when it was time to pay a bill how hard it has been for them to have the money. My family has motivated me because I said to myself, “When I grow up I want to give back to them and make their situation better. I want to be that daughter that makes them proud and they can rely on.”
*LAT: What are you plans for the future with your education.
My plan in the future is to become an immigration lawyer. My grandfather use to ask me what I wanted to be and my answer was, to be a lawyer. When I arrived in the United States and saw the struggles of my Latino community with this issue, I decided to become an immigration lawyer. So I will be attending the University of Minnesota to study Pre-Law and then to Law School.
“There are two reasons that I decided to stay for schooling in Minnesota. The first one is because my church is here and the second one is to be close to my family. I think it was not the time to go far for these two reasons and that God will say when the correct time to leave is,” stated Mejia.
Hispanic women are gaining prominence in the U.S. and are becoming a strong influence on the mainstream economy. With 52 million in the U.S. population, Hispanics collectively have an impressive buying power of $1.2 trillion dollars. Within the overall Hispanic demographic, however, the women are the ones in the driver’s seat, according to a recent report published by Nielsen.
Hispanic women, also called Latinas, are the growth engine of the U.S. female population and are expected to represent 30 percent of the total female population by 2060, while the non-Hispanic white female population is expected to drop to 43 percent.
Latinas are becoming more educated, tech savvy and connected, allowing them to write their own destinies and challenge the dynamic of Hispanic households. With 86 percent of Latina women at the helm of purchasing decisions in households, the times are changing and economic power is shifting.
“Latinas are a key driver of economic influence, giving marketers an opportunity to establish new and loyal consumer relationships by acknowledging the needs and following the unique behavior trends of Hispanic women,” said Mónica Gil senior vice president, public affairs and government relations.
According to the findings in the new Nielsen report, Latinas are making strides by way of their strong drives to improve their education and cultivate strong careers. In fact, Latinas are outpacing their Latino counterparts in both areas, and are overwhelmingly the decision-makers in household spending.
For the first time, Latinas are exceeding non-Hispanic females in college enrollment. A record 73 percent of Hispanic high school female graduates are enrolling in college, 11 percent ahead of Hispanic males.
In significant areas, Latinas are avid users of technology and social media to stay culturally connected while they’re on-the-go and their day-to-day activities. For many Latinas, personal technology and social networking are helping them maintain their ethnic culture, language and traditions.
The modern Latina is also ambicultural, able to pivot from English to Spanish, Latina to American and back again. Bilingual language proficiency has significantly increased among Latinas, while the proportion of Spanish dominance has held steady and the proportion of English dominance has declined significantly.
When it comes time to shop, family needs are at the top of Latinas’ shopping lists. Reflecting the prevalence of larger families and cultural nuances, Latina purchasing decisions often span many food categories. High levels of purchasing are also often reflected in oral hygiene products, bottle water, detergent and paper products, for example.
Cinco de Mayo should not be confused with Mexican Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is not a largely observed holiday in Mexico (with the exception of a few regions), but is much more popular in the United States. So, what is Cinco de Mayo? The short answer is that it celebrates the defeat of the French Army by Mexican soldiers at the battle of Puebla. The real answer is that Cinco de Mayo is a uniquely Mexican-American holiday. It celebrates a change in the relationship between the United States and Mexico.
The end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, not only left a strained relationship between the two countries, but left Mexico deep in debt which grew through the years of civil war. Mexico borrowed money from European countries and eventually, these countries wanted their debts repaid. England and Spain entered the scene and left just as quickly, but France took advantage of their moment and decided to invade. As it turned out, Napoleon III was determined to conquer Mexico, set a Hapsburg prince on a Mexican throne, and rule over Mexico. Some argue that from Mexico, Napoleon wanted to aid the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War. Exactly what role the French defeat at Puebla played in the U.S. Civil War is debatable, but if the French had supplied the confederacy more actively, the war could have been longer, harder and much bloodier.
When the Mexican Army defeated the first invading battalion they were greatly outnumbered and faced with a technologically superior force making the triumph all the greater; the reason it is celebrated today. Ironically, this battle did not end of conflict between Mexico and France, but was just the beginning. French forces returned a year later in larger numbers and took control of Mexico placing the puppet Maximilian in charge of Mexico. The people of Mexico resisted and once the Civil War ended in the United States, President Lincoln sent General Sheridan to supply the Mexican resistance. Many U.S. soldiers were decommissioned from the Union Army in Texas to join the Mexican Army. A battalion of U.S. soldiers marched in the victory parade in Mexico City when Maximilian was finally defeated in 1868. In honor of the aid provided by the United States, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border to join the U.S. military in the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It is unfortunate that the real story of Cinco de Mayo remains lost to advertisers who see it as little more than an excuse to sell beer (Cinco de Mayo is now the second largest beer consuming day of the year just behind St. Patrick’s Day). It is a celebration of the long relationship between the United States and Mexico, including years of cooperation, and the hope of a future where two neighbors can set aside their differences and work together.
So celebrate Cinco de Mayo by remembering why we celebrate it and with a nod to Mexican traditions and foods. Put together a great molé or a traditional carne asada and enjoy the Mexican Grill.
Pictured from left: Alfredo Frias, Gloria Frias, and Jose Frias
St. Paul has a favorite Mexican restaurant, that is recommended by the local citizens, the chamber of commerce, food critics, taxi drivers, newspapers and is always on the top in restaurant polls. The favorite is the Boca Chica. If you want delicious Mexican food, great margaritas, award winning salsa, strolling mariachis, lots of history and hospitality, all in a friendly neighborhood with great free parking, you get all that at the Boca Chica.
This March 6, the restaurant is celebrating its 50th anniversary. From its March, 1964 opening with a 400 square-foot dining area, a small kitchen, 6 tables and standard chairs that could seat 28 people to the current restaurant with 2800 square feet that can seat over two hundred customers in festive, colorful mural filled rooms with fireplaces and a wonderful patio area, this is the Boca Chica. For thousands of their fans and customers from throughout the Twin Cities, it is their favorite Mexican restaurant.
The restaurant is still located in its original location on St. Paul’s West Side. The founders and owners, Guillermo and Gloria Frias started this modest business without a real plan, but with some experience.
Gloria Frias was no newcomer to the restaurant business. Her parents Arturo and Elvira Coronado started the first Mexican restaurant in Minnesota on St. Paul’s West Side flats in the 1940’s and for decades, the Coronado family ran, La Casa Coronado. Guillermo (who passed in 2004) and Gloria have 4 children, Alfredo, Steve, Eddie and Cristela. Steve and Eddie were involved in the business but then went on to their own careers. Alfredo is the manager and visionary of the Boca Chica and his younger sister Cristela, his son Jose and daughter Jesie are very active and important to the daily operations.Gloria is semi-retired but you can still see her at the restaurant helping out and greeting the customers in her charming way. Celebrating fifty years in business allows one to look back, from being the only restaurant in St. Paul to serve Mexican food back in 1964, to 2014 with a city with many Mexican restaurants, small family owned, as well as large franchises, supermarket aisles full of Mexican foods, Taco Bells, and everyone making their own burritos, beans and rice at home. Mexican food is mainstream! Still the Boca Chica remains special, busy and a favorite.
Congratulations to the Frias family on their 50th anniversary. Thanks for all the good times at the Boca, with your happy hours, taco specials, hanging out on your patio and the fun and colorful Cinco de Mayo celebrations we love every year. We look forward to many more wonderful Mexican experiences at the Boca Chica.
Pictured: Spc. Carissa J. MeroBLOOMINGTON, Minn. - In order to carry on the legacy of her late Army veteran grandfather and to prove to her family that she can not only do it, but that she will exceed at it, Spc. Carissa J. Mero, a human resource specialist for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, enlisted in the Army National Guard.
She thrives when she is given an assignment and brings forth perseverance by finishing tasks in a timely manner whether it is making ID cards for fellow soldiers or reviewing military award recommendations. Her dedication and professionalism has made an impression on not only the soldiers in her unit but her younger female cousins.
“I feel that it is very important that I am setting an example for my younger cousins,” said Mero. “I’m helping them realize that they can do whatever they want if they are willing to put forth the effort.”
Mero’s enlistment in the Minnesota National Guard has also made an impact on the way in which her culture views her. It was not that long ago she was perceived as just a young girl, yet today her image is that of an empowered woman.
As a member of the Minnesota National Guard, Mero realized that her Puerto Rican culture is well respected and the members of her fellow soldiers treat her no different than they would anyone else, she said.
Outside of her drill weekends and on a larger scale, Mero has seen the Minnesota National Guard involved in her community functions like the St. Paul annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. This joint community outreach makes her proud not only as a Puerto Rican but as a member of the Minnesota National Guard.
“It is important that we treat each other the same, from the top down because that is how impressions are made on soldiers and I think that our leadership does a great job of treating everyone as equals,” said Mero.
The Minnesota National Guard has taken an active role in diversifying the force, which has and will continue to benefit the Minnesota Guard as cultural diversity expands.
“We are committed to fostering an environment that truly represents the demographics of the communities in which we serve. We must reflect those whom we lead, serve and protect,” said Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash.
Pictured: Maria IsaLatina hip-hop artist Maria Isa is an authentic artist who’s worked in the Twin Cities music scene since the tender age of five. A gifted singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, educator and advocate, Maria is finally bringing her heart to Hollywood.
Born Maria IsaBelle Perez-Vega to Puerto Rican parents, she grew up in St. Paul’s Westside. One of her most cherished projects is educating youth about Afro-Caribbean and Latino culture through history, music, song, and dance. She has served as the artistic director of non-profit El Arco Iris Center for the Arts since 2008, founded by her mother and aunt in 1992.
In 2013, Maria released two albums, The Latina Ritual Project, a full-length showcase compilation, and Latinization, produced by Young Mennace and released by In the Groove Records. Six songs from Latinization were featured in the Fast and Furious video game, and several songs were produced to score hit TV shows including Keeping up with the Kardashians and MTV’s Snooki.
Maria was showcased at the 2013 X Games in Los Angeles at Ford Fiesta Stage at the Staples Center. She also produced and performed the “Mi Sazones” grocery song for Target and hosted Noble Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum in Denver to honor world peace and youth empowerment.
“Maria is a full package of a Latina who knows what she wants and is working to do it right in Hollywood,” describes Danny Trejo. “Not only does she focus on giving a great performance, but she’s dedicated towards serving her community and that’s what it’s all about,” says Machete icon Danny Trejo
Kicking off 2014 in Hollywood
Maria kicked off 2014 featuring her vocals on the Bud Light “Cool Twist” commercial. With her company SotaRico—a term she developed in 2008 to represent Puerto Rico’s flavor in Minnesota—Maria is setting up shop in Los Angeles as she prepares to release her latest album Valley of the Dolls produced by Andrew Bergen, and the anticipated Strike One, an independent full-length film by Boricua Films, starring Danny Trejo.
This spring Maria will tour with hip-hop duo Villa Rosa. “Every time I hit the stage I do it with pride, because I’m proud of where I come from, and I am doing what the women in my family have encouraged me to do: respect myself, have faith, be strong and keep following your dreams, no matter what,” says Maria.
Maria Isa will perform at Aria MPLS in Minneapolis on February 28th, and at The Mint in LA on March 20th with Villa Rosa. For more information, visit www.misotarico.com.
Photography by Adam Stanzak
Strike One picture courtesy of Boricua Films/2014
Al iniciar un nuevo año, es muy común escuchar la expresión “¡año nuevo vida nueva!”. Es muy probable que en alguna ocasión nosotros mismos lo hemos usando, al momento de plantearnos las metas y resoluciones del nuevo año. Ahora, la realidad es que para alcanzar una “vida nueva” se requiere más que una expresión optimista.
Un nuevo año sin duda es una gran oportunidad para cumplir nuevas metas, planes y proyectos de vida. Sin embargo, no es suficiente con cambiar la hoja del calendario o una nueva agenda. Cuando cruzamos la linea del tiempo de un año a otro, en realidad, se nos está presentando 365 días para avanzar en esas metas y proyectos, que nos hemos planteado; de tal forma que puedan ser aprovechados al usarlos como escalones para alcanzar nuestras metas.
El gran caudillo Moisés, en su oración a Dios pide de una manera muy interesante “Enséñanos de tal modo á contar nuestros días, Que traigamos al corazón sabiduría” (Salmo 90:12). “Contar nuestros días”, fuera interesante si contáramos esos 365 días como inversiones a nuestro favor, como se cuentan las finanzas a largo plazo para hacernos sabios. Jesús también hizo mención de un hombre sabio que invirtió con mucho esfuerzo y dedicación.
Este hombre construyó su casa en la roca, aunque esto le puedo llevar más tiempo, pero como era sabio aseguro su inversión a largo plazo; de tal forma que soporto las adversidades que se presentaron con los cambios de clima, su casa prevaleció y nada la derrumbó. ¡Que bueno sería para nosotros y nuestras familias que estos 365 días sean escalones para avanzar y crecer en cada área de nuestra vida!
El optimismo es bueno, pero no es suficiente, puede agotarse en la primera adversidad que se presente. Para ser como ese hombre sabio, hay que tener visión clara de donde queremos llegar y como lo hiciera Moisés en su oración pedir a Dios que nos dé sabiduría para construir en la Roca.
Aunque estos 365 días se parezcan a cualquier otro día, una semana a cualquier otra semana, un mes a cualquier otro mes y este 2014 a cualquier otro año; recordémos que a largo plazo este día, esta semana y este año no volverán y serán historia, construyamos o no, así que mejor aprovechemos y hagamos historia con ellos forjémos con estos 365 días un futuro.
¡Feliz y próspero 2014!
Pastora Gisella Arias-Olson Sirve junto a su esposo y familia en la Iglesia de Dios Rios de Agua Viva.16108 Harmony Path
Servicios: Domingos 5pm,
Para servicios de consejería escriba a: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands of Latinos come to Minnesota each year in search of the American Dream. They want to get good jobs so their families can have better lives and more opportunities. The key to getting a good job is education, but many Latinos don’t know about the educational options available to them in the Twin Cities.
As Executive Director of the International Education Center (IEC), I want to make sure more people in the Latino community know about the services we provide. The IEC, located in downtown Minneapolis, offers free classes to adult immigrants and refugees in English, math and computer skills. Our classes also help students prepare to earn their GED and increase their employability. More than 1,000 students from over 80 countries come to the IEC each year. One-third of those students are Latino.
But we know there are many more in the Minnesota Latino community who could benefit from the services we offer. In fact, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, about 35% of the Hispanic population in Minnesota does not speak English well. And the unemployment rate for Minnesota Hispanics is 8.1%.
Latino students at the IEC are seeing a difference on the job and at home as their English skills improve.
Yessenia Gavilanes, age 34, has been a student at the IEC for two years. Originally from Ecuador, she came to Minnesota 10 years ago. She and her husband own a limousine business and she also works as a prep cook at Seven Sushi. Yessenia says the English classes at the IEC are making it easier for her to speak to customers who call her limousine business, and she can better communicate with her managers at Seven Sushi. Yessenia also has three sons, ages 6, 13 and 17. Learning English is making it possible for her to help them with their homework and understand emails she receives from their schools. Yessenia is working toward her goal of going to college to be a pastry chef.
Noel Olalde, age 30, is also benefitting from classes at the IEC. He came to Minnesota from Mexico 10 years ago, and currently works at Mister Car Wash. Noel says learning English is making it easier for him to talk to customers at his job. In addition, it helps him in his everyday life. He is able to understand the preacher at his church, and he can read the information he receives in the mail. Noel says his writing and listening skills are also improving. He hopes to get his GED one day.
These are just two examples of the many Latino students who have benefitted from the classes we offer at the IEC. If you or someone you know would like to learn English, please contact the IEC at 612-871-6350 or visit our website at www.iecminnesota.org.
David Gaither is a former Minnesota State Senator and Chief of Staff to former Governor Tim Pawlenty. He primarily focused on education and commerce during his time in office. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the International Education Center.
Pictured to the left: Dennis Nguyen
(St. Paul, MN…) Surrounded by a diverse group of family, friends and supporters, Dennis Nguyen (pronounced “win”) announced today that he is running for Minnesota Secretary of State. Nguyen is a Republican from Minneapolis, a father of four and the Chairman of New Asia Partners and Newport Capital, both Minneapolis-based financial services firms. He was introduced at the announcement by the Win with Nguyen Campaign Chairman and former Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum and joined at the podium by current and former members of the Minnesota legislature, distinguished community and business leaders and supporters.
“I have been fortunate to live the classic American dream, arriving here as the child of working class, Vietnamese immigrants, getting a great education and succeeding in business,” said Nguyen. “As Secretary of State, I want to make sure that dream is available to all Minnesotans - through their right to vote and participate in elections, and in their ability to start and grow a business.”
Along with his parents and three siblings, he came to the United States in May 1975 and settled in Anaheim, CA. His father worked three jobs for most of his childhood and his mother did not speak a word of English at the time of her arrival to the US.
“I feel an overwhelming sense of pride whenever I step into the voting booth and my goal as Secretary of State is to foster a system where every Minnesotan feels that same level of pride,” said Nguyen. “This is only possible if every voter trusts the integrity of our process and we remove all barriers to voting for eligible voters.” Nguyen has worked for some of the world’s leading corporations including Nortel Networks, Citigroup, Credit Agricole, Indosuez and Daiwa Securities SMBC. Leveraging experience gained at these firms, Dennis then started his own financial services firm, New Asia Partners, working with entrepreneurs in achieving their dreams and creating jobs along the way.
Left to right: Andrew Ojeda, Rick Aguilar, Dennis Nguyen, and Maria de la Paz
“I intend to make the Secretary of State’s office a one stop shop for business creation and capital formation in Minnesota. We can construct a new public private partnership with our office as the hub of a 21st century Minnesota economy—an ecosystem designed to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, accountants and bankers to create new sustainable, middle class jobs.”
“I am not a career politician,” added Nguyen. “I am like many of you: a son, parent, neighbor, business person, taxpayer and an involved member of our community. I think people are seeking solutions from their government and want someone with new ideas and experience from the business world. I hope you will join us in this campaign to re-invigorate the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”
Pictured to the left: Alondra Cano
Minneapolis voters have elected the first Mexican-American and the first Hmong-American to serve on the City Council.
Alondra Cano is the unofficial winner in the 9th Ward, representing south Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood. Blong Yang has won in the 5th Ward, the seat representing north Minneapolis.
Cano, 32, was born in Minnesota and raised in Mexico. She will be the first Mexican-American to serve on the Minneapolis City Council.
A Minneapolis Public Schools employee, Cano hopes her election will inspire more Latinos and people of color to get involved in city government and that the growing ethnic diversity on the council will help the city.
“I think it’s really going to help our city lead with racial equity in mind,” Cano said. “My entire life, I’ve worked on efforts to make sure the diverse communities of Minneapolis and Minnesota were engaged, empowered and served by the various institutions that govern us.”
She added, “I’m humbled. I’m excited. I’m ready to serve.”
Yang said he was relieved the election was over. “My goodness, the suspense was killing me,” said Yang. “But I’m just relieved that it’s done and that we got a majority of the votes, and we just want to move on.”
Yang said it was about time the council got more diverse but, “I don’t think diversity will mean much if we don’t get stuff done. So we need to get stuff done.”
Election officials finished vote counting in the City Council races Friday under the city’s ranked-choice voting system. Officials also said Linea Palmisano has won the southwest Minneapolis ward 13 seat currently held by Betsy Hodges, who was declared the city’s mayor elect in unofficial results last night.
In the 6th Ward, Abdi Warsame defeated incumbent Robert Lilligren on Tuesday to become the first person of Somali descent to hold municipal office in the United States.
Photo courtesy of Alondra Cano campaign
The Campos-Duffy family
The LIBRE Initiative (LIBRE), a non-profit, non-partisan organization welcomed Rachel Campos-Duffy to their team of dedicated eco- nomic freedom advocates. Rachel works with LIBRE as strategist and spokesperson in a national effort to expand their message of economic liberty and opportunity to Latinas, youth, and faith-based communities. “The LIBRE Initiative works to advance policies and initiatives that honor America’s heritage of economic freedom, self-reliance and more efficient government - policies that make it possible for all American communities to thrive and prosper.
LIBRE seeks to grow the economic contributions of the U.S. Hispanic community, and Rachel has shown to be of like mind, a true inspiration who we are thrilled to have on our team,” said Daniel Garza, LIBRE’s Executive Director. Eager to comment on everything from parenting to family, politics, and cultural issues, Campos-Duffy is emerging as a celebrity Latina conservative voice. “I think demographically you saw what happened in the election,” she said.
“Hispanics pulled Obama over the finish line. The message is that we have the power and Hispanics are beginning to understand the power they have -What will dissipate our power,” Campos-Duffy said,“is if we hand it over to one party. When both parties are competing for the Hispanic voter, Hispanics will be better. Hispanic women, in particular, have the power because what we are doing in the marketplace is amazing.” Sometimes well-intentioned programs can lead to dependency and cause us to forget we have what it takes to attain the American dream,” she said. “Hispanics are hard working, and that’s something I’m very passionate about.
Rachel is a parenting expert, author, blogger, political pundit, and television personality. She got her television start almost 20 years ago on MTV’s iconic reality show, The Real World. Today, Rachel is a recurring guest on NBC’s Today Show, dispensing parenting and relation- ship advice. She has also guest-hosted ABC’s The View and appeared on Dr. Phil, FOX and Friends, The Hannity Show, Politically Incorrect, EWTN’s The World Over Live and numerous CNN shows where she is a frequent on-camera commentator on parenting, politics, and culture. Rachel, who is married to Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, is also a busy mom of six and an accomplished author of her book, “Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-home Motherhood” (2009 by Penguin), as well as a frequent contributor to the Today Show blog, TodayMoms.com, National Review Online, The American Spectator, Catholicvote.org, and NBCLatino.com among others.
As things heat up with ACA implementation, a lot of attention is being given to Hispanics. While some of that attention is driven by politics (based on the significant impact Hispanics had on the results of the 2012 election), most of it is being driven by market realities. Specifically, three characteristics of the Hispanic population:
• The Hispanic population is large and growing - totaling over 51 million
• Hispanics are young – the median age of Hispanics in the U.S. is 28 (compared to 37 for the general market)
• Many Hispanics are uninsured – 30.7% of all uninsured in the U.S. are Hispanics, totaling 15.8 million
Hidden in this demographic data is the strategic importance of getting uninsured Hispanics to participate in the Exchanges. Since Hispanics are younger and therefore healthier, they are an important population from a risk perspective. If lots of currently uninsured, relatively younger and healthier Hispanics participate in the Exchanges, they will bring down the risk pool from an actuarial perspective. That means they make lower cost health insurance for relatively older, less healthy populations more economically feasible. Some say the success of ACA depends on the heavy participation of Hispanics.
Now this is much easier said than done. This attractive Hispanic “Young & Healthy” population is made up of a lot of men... a lot of Hispanic men with an “invincible” mentality. We’ve seen in countless research studies quotes from this segment of Hispanics to the tune of “I’m young... I won’t get sick. Why pay if you never get sick?” Add to this the confusion that many Hispanics face when dealing with a U.S. healthcare system. Again, healthcare vets will tell you that the U.S. healthcare system is particularly bewildering to many Hispanic immigrants (not to mention the broader population).
There is a prevalent mindset among many Hispanics that private health insurance is too expensive for them to afford. There are also cultural barriers to the idea of health insurance – a common misconception among Hispanics is that insurance is something you buy only when you get sick.
While these challenges are significant, there is a path to success with Hispanics and healthcare. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
•Segmentation is critical – formative research to segment your Hispanic audience is critical. When it comes to healthcare, Hispanic men and women behave differently, driven by different motivators
•Understand that you will be undertaking a behavior change program, not unlike public health campaign to get people to exercise more, not smoke or eat differently
•Digital is key – the Exchanges will be online, so your marketing has to align with the product.
Members of the Mexican American Veterans Post #5 participated in the annual South St. Paul Kaposia Days event on June29th. The veterans included, Joseph Medina at 99, the St. Paulite and Army veteran is believed to be the oldest living WWII vet of Latino descent in the Twin Cities, if not the state. Medina was made a U.S. citizen shortly before he was handed a rifle and shipped off to the Pacific theater where he was assigned to MacArthur’s Eighth Army. Augustine Martinez, a former Army infantryman from St. Paul who engaged enemy troops in German-occupied France. He served with the 65th Infantry Division part of the George Patton Third Army Division. Manny Aguirre, a coxswain and driver on the USS Ozark’s Landing Craft vehicle and Personnel Boat No. 2, which transported invasion troops to the body-riddled and blood-drenched shores of Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. These Latino Americans were among the one-half million Mexican American, Puerto Rican and other Latinos who served, died and survived World War II.
These American heroes were among the World War II veterans who participated as the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Minnesota Wing recently hosted its second Kaposia Days Open house at Fleming Field in South St. Paul. It was a great event and they were able to share it with many WWII Veterans from around the Twin Cities. The CAF strives to preserve our nation’s military aviation history and events like the Kaposia Days open house help them do just that. In addition to open houses, they also host two hangar dances each year.
The first dance was in early June and the second one will be on September 7th. The dances are another opportunity for the Wing to showcase their WWII Aircraft, vehicles, and artifacts. They encourage attendees to dress up in period costume (1940s) and enjoy the Swing Dancing, honoring veterans, and taking a tour through our aircraft. It is so important for places like the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing to keep history alive for many generations to learn and enjoy.
In addition to the events and the museum the CAF also offers the public the opportunity to take a flight in many of the historic airplanes used in World War II. The Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing is proud to offer you the opportunity to experience flying in one of our authentic World War II aircraft! We offer a ride in a wide selection of aircraft, based upon your interest and budget. No piloting experience is necessary!
All flights include a pre-flight briefing with one of our experienced, commercial-rated pilots. Many of our pilots also work for major airlines. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about the aircraft and its operational history. History flights are conducted spring, summer and fall, but can be booked at any time. Flights depart from South St. Paul Municipal Airport (Fleming Field), where our aircraft are based. We also offer flights at select airshow venues around the country.
By booking a flight, you’re not only getting to experience flying in an authentic WWII aircraft, you’re also helping to preserve them! All proceeds go toward maintaining the aircraft. As a 501c3 non-profit, your flight is also tax deductible up to the maximum amount allowed by law. We look forward to having you fly with us soon!
For general questions or to book a flight, call Tom @ 952-412-8815.
In the 2012 Presidental elections Latino Americans voted in record numbers throughout the country, including Minnesota. In preparation for the upcoming elections, Latino American Today will begin a series of interviews with candidates here in Minnesota who are running for various offices. We begin our series with Scott Honour who is running for governor, we will continue in the Fall with the Mayor of Minneapolis race and then next Spring with many others in preparation for the crucial 2014 elections. We will be visiting with candidates and asking them about issues important to the Latino American community.
Last week we sat down with Scott Honour, he is running for governor of Minnesota, and he answered our questions:
Answer: I was born in Fridley, Minnesota my parents lived in a trailer park. Growing up my parents worked very hard to make a home for us. My father was an airline pilot and my mother stayed home to raise my brother Kirk and me. My most cherished memories are from camping trips I took with my family. My parents taught us about hard work and the value of an education. Most importantly, I learned that family, faith, and community come first, values that my wife, Jamie, and I are passing on to our three children. I know first hand what it is like when a family goes through tough times. My dad lost his job as a pilot when the airline he worked for went bankrupt. I learned that a family’s economic circumstances can change quickly through no fault of their own.
Answer: Minnesota is headed in the wrong direction with Mark Dayton as governor. We need the right kind of leadership. We need a leader who understands, above all else, how to create jobs and grow the economy. Someone who will reform state government, who will take a fresh look at most everything government does and ask, “Why are we doing this?” Someone who views government’s role as working to better people’s lives, not run them. I’ve spent my life in business. I’m not a politician. I know I can bring results-oriented conservative leadership to our state so we promote job growth, improve education and more effectively help our citizens in need with a hand up.
Answer: My top priority will be to make sure we create jobs, grow the economy, and bring back fiscal responsibility. In my business career,
we saved and created jobs and I know that experience will serve me well as governor. If we pursue the right policies in Minnesota, we can
get the economy going and make businesses comfortable with growing and expanding in our state. Through a combination of hard work, a good education and a little luck, I’ve had some success in life. I want to make sure as many Minnesotans as possible have that same chance for success, no matter where they started in life.
Answer: In 2012, Minnesota had the largest Hispanic education achievement gap in the country. That’s embarrassing and it will change when I’m governor. A quality education is crucial to achieving success in our state and in our global, knowledge economy, and we need to make sure that our schools aren’t failing our Latino citizens. We need to get better education results for students and parents. As governor, I will put in place measurable goals, reward our best teachers, reduce burdensome administrative costs, and give parents more choices. In addition, Latino-owned businesses make up an increasing number of new small business. The tax and regulatory agenda just passed by Governor Dayton and the legislature will make it extremely difficult to grow or expand a business here in Minnesota. In fact, according to a recent survey, Minnesota is last in new business start-ups. That’s destroying opportunities for thousands of Minnesota families. While we need sensible regulations, we need to eliminate unnecessary red tape.
A new member has joined the Multicultural Student Center at Century College. Yessica Santana is the new Latino Student Services Coordinator, Recruiter, and Advisor at the campus. Her role is to provide culturally sensitive programs that foster and promote academic and personal success for Latino students. Her goal is to create a strong support system for Latino students where they can feel connected and welcome.
Yessica has been involved in the planning and implementation of many educational conferences, camps, and fairs throughout her career. She plans to use her experience to bring families and students to campus to learn about the variety of Century College programs and degrees, which can lead directly to employment or transfer to a four year university.
Century College offers students:
• Smaller Class Sizes
• Academic Options
• Convenient Location
• Diverse Student Population
• Expert Faculty
• LifePlan for Success
• Support Services
Century College students feel that a Century College education provides a great return on investment. If you or your student is interested in learning more about Century College, the application process or would like to visit the campus, please contact Yessica at 651.747.4089.
Century College. Your Bridge to Success.
News from Washington D.C. is that the planning of the National Museum of the American Latino (NMAL) is moving forward. Our Minnesota Latino American community can play a role of supporting the building of the museum and raising funds for the project. We are ready to join in the effort and plan to form “The Friends of the Museum, Minnesota Chapter.” A meeting will be held in September in Saint Paul, where we will be getting an update on the Museum planning and how we Latino Americans in Minnesota and our supporters can be involved in this historic project. We want to thank supporters in advance for offering to help host this informational meeting and reception. If you are interested in learning more, you can contact Aguilar Productions.
Today, we thank Senators Robert Menendez, Harry Reid, and Marco Rubio and Representatives Xavier Becerra and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for reintroducing the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act in 113th Congress. This bill will give the future Smithsonian American Latino Museum a home in the historic Arts and Industries Building on the nation’s front yard, the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Senator Rubio said, “Authorizing the use of federal land on the National Mall is an important step in laying the ground work to establish the American Latino Museum. This will be an enduring monument as much to the people who have found opportunity and refuge in America as it is a tribute to our exceptional country that has always welcomed people and helped them realize their dreams like no other place in human history. At a time when our nation faces major economic and fiscal challenges, I am pleased that this effort will not rely on taxpayer dollars and that this bill will encourage private fundraising efforts to make it a reality.”