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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

opinion | Latino diversity will manage to stop the excesses like the ones we see today

Publisher’s note: In CNN, George G. Castaneda contributed. He was Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2003. He is currently a professor at New York University and his most recent book, “America Through Foreign Eyes”, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. Views expressed in this comment. From the author. You can find more opinions at CNNe.com/opinion.

(CNN Spanish) — The Hispanic heritage in the United States is becoming more powerful, ubiquitous, and… diverse every day. The numbers are well known and there is no point in repeating them here. Why bore the reader with statistics that reflect only those impressions that one can collect on roads, schools, construction sites, hotels, vast neighborhoods of myriad metropolises, universities and flower shops, in shops and public transport. I would like to briefly comment on the three characteristics mentioned: power, omnipresence and diversity.

The Hispanic community in the United States has acquired a power over the past 20 years that may not have been explicitly considered before. Of course, it is a political force. There are more Hispanic voters, more Hispanic elected officials at all levels, and more Hispanic public servants at all three levels of government. Simply, because of arithmetical inertia – that is, the sum of new migrant flows and the naturalization of the first ones – these figures will continue to rise. But, moreover, the strength of the Hispanic presence is not limited to the political sphere.

It is also an economic force, which is difficult to measure, but it seems to have reached considerable dimensions already. In Mexico, it was said that the Mexican and Mexican-American GDPs in the United States exceed that of their country of origin. What we do know is that the Hispanic presence in the nation’s richest and most populous states—California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York—as well as in the most dynamic ones—such as Arizona—is increasing. Therefore, the number and size of Hispanic-owned businesses should also increase in both absolute and relative terms.

However, Hispanic heritage is perhaps the biggest influence on culture in the United States. A range of expressions of Hispanic culture – as we shall see, much more diverse than a word might reflect – exist almost throughout the country, even where the Latino community is relatively small. Gastronomy, language, music, sports, literature: all these expressions of Hispanic culture have already made crossover, that is, their incorporation into traditional American culture without losing their origins or their special characteristics. In the long run, this expression of Hispanic heritage will certainly prove to be the best, the one with the greatest impact.

Along with power, the prevalence of Hispanic heritage is one of its defining traits today. For a long time, the Hispanic presence in the United States was concentrated in a few places: states such as California and Texas, and cities such as Miami, New York, and Chicago. Today, although these towns have retained and enhanced their Latin flavor, the Hispanic community extends to many more regions of the United States. The number of Mexicans, in particular, has multiplied in many cities or states where there were practically none 30 years ago. This is the case in states such as Nebraska, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa, Arkansas and Wisconsin. It is easy to follow the path of expansion. Just by seeing that the Mexican government opens new consulates, one can understand where expatriates from the neighboring country come to different places than before.

New inflows from Central Americans, Ecuadorians, Venezuelans and now, again, Cubans are not necessarily concentrated in the same areas as before. For example, those leaving Puerto Rico have moved to the Orlando area of ​​Florida in recent years. Ecuadorians have arrived not only in Los Angeles, but in New York. Similarly, the spread of Hispanic presence has brought about a national expansion of the most famous Latin expressions. Univision, Goya and MLS, for example, already exist throughout the United States; They are an integral part of the entire landscape of the United States.

This brings us to the third feature of Hispanic heritage that we wish to highlight. Diversity occurs within each nationality, and of course, between them. Mexicans, who still make up half of all Hispanics—first, second or third generation in the United States—are increasingly diverse. If earlier they mostly came from rural areas of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Zacatecas, today many come from urban areas such as the capital or rural areas of other states: Puebla, Oaxaca and Chiapas. They are of more diverse ages – not just young people – and with an increasing proportion of women.

New waves are joining the Hispanic community in the United States. Venezuelans represent the most famous recent influx, but again coming Nicaragua, Cubans and Haitians. They bring with them their own specialties, similar to the Mexicans or Central Americans of the 80s and 90s of the last century, but with their differences. Similarly, newly arrived Central Americans are different from those fleeing civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala and the ongoing economic crisis in Honduras.

But the variety is not limited to the original. The Hispanic community has also seen its heterogeneous political leanings intensify in recent years. Cubans were always more conservative and Republicans, Mexicans more Democrats, but that has changed. Various regions of Mexican descent in Texas have chosen to vie for the right of the electoral spectrum in recent years, while presidential candidates such as Barack Obama were able to win not only in Florida, but in Miami-Dade County in particular. The electoral homogeneity of the Hispanic community is broken, although this is more true in some areas than in others.

The same is the case with those ideas which we might call the cultural or social of that community. His views on abortion, same-sex marriage, education, health and taxes are scattered. Now there is no ideological uniformity, as it was before. This gives more wealth to the Hispanic presence, but also, perhaps, less political or electoral influence as a bloc. Hispanic heritage is beginning to “Americanize” in a sense: it reflects the plurality or diversity of American society as a whole.

This month, the Hispanic heritage has much to celebrate, though it must also mourn the abuses, sometimes cynical and dehumanizing, of which the hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans who come to the United States in search of opportunities fall victim. Over time, the power, ubiquity and diversity of Latinos will be able to prevent the excesses we see today. Not much is missing.

World Nation News Desk
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