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Arts Media and










www.latinoleaders.com October / November 2015 Vol. 16 No. 6



COVER STORY: HOLLYWOOD BOUND Eduardo Yáñez, México’s top star has seized the telenovela world. But can he conquer Hollywood?


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6 Publisher’s letter

Jorge Ferráez tells us who is working to improve the much-needed image of Latinos.

10 Monitor Update on Eduardo Márquez of AEM and other news. 12 Portfolio David Torres, Daniela Ruiz, Marco Antonio Flores, Catalina Gonzalez. 18 Chorus man Chris Verdugo, director of L.A.’s Gay Men’s Chorus. 33 Richard Rodríguez In a tour de force interview, the writer talks about everything with his incomparable style.

78. Streets of fire

Auto review on Mazda’s CX-3.

79 Travel Take a ride on the wild side in Forth Worth’s Stockyards. 80 Cellar Jorge Ferráez guides you to the best of the wine world.


43 Héctor Tóbar Interview with Héctor Tóbar, author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine. By Judi Jordan.

46 Marturet The Venezuelan conductor of the Miami Symphony wants to take the music to the masses. 48 Francisco Cortés tells his story.


The top Latino at Fox News

Profile on Cesar Lostaunau.

50 Fashion

Historian Charles A. Coulombe tells you why you should wear a serious hat.

52 Crème of the crop The most influential Latinos in the arts, media and entertainment.


55. The director of 33 Judi Jordan goes deep into the soul of Patricia, director of the new film, 33. 61 No longer living La Vida Loca returns in La Banda.

Ricky Martin

63 CTCA Dr. Patricia Thompson fight against cancer. 64. Club Leaders of the Future Young guns show up in Chicago.

67 Proust

Jacob Vargas bares his soul.

68. Delta

Pepe Zapata, the man in charge of the Caribbean and Central America for Delta.

69 CLF Miami 72 Maestro L.A. 76 Socials in Atlanta A night to remember with Atlanta’s luminous Latinos.

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Joining forces


The Latino Donor Collaborative is currently working to improve the image of Hispanics

I met with Sol Trujillo more than a year ago in New York, when he invited me to attend a meeting of the Latino Donor Collaborative. I was not completely aware of this group nor did I know their objectives, but I was totally impressed after the half-day meeting concluded. One of the presentations that left an impression on me was a study by Frances Negrón (Columbia University researcher in ethnicity and race) and Moctesuma Esparza, the well-known, independent Hollywood movie producer. Their presentations showed how poor the image of Latinos is in media and entertainment. We published some parts of that study in our October-November edition last year. In that event last year, I invited Sol Trujillo to be a presenter and speaker in our 101 Most Influential Latinos Luncheon in Washington D.C. and he made a fantastic presentation on the advancement of Latinos and the challenges this poses. Trujillo is a fantastic leader; a soft spoken man, he listens before speaking, is well connected and has a brilliant mind. He has been CEO of many corporations and now he’s using his experience to lead the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) organization in its quest to improve the plight of Latinos. Sol has put together, among others, a great board with leaders such as David Hernández from Liberty Power and Tom Castro from Border Media Partners. During this year’s gathering in New York, which I had the privilege to be invited to again, I met with great leaders such as Linda Alvarado, Alex López Negrete, Pat Pineda and Oscar Muñoz, the newly appointed CEO of United Airlines. All of them spoke about issues like inclusion, advancement and how to improve the image of Latinos. Latino Leaders awarded Sol Trujillo its highest recognition; The Latino Leaders Maestro Award in 2014 in Los Angeles, where we came to know Sol’s story better -- a story that deserves all the best recognition. But as I get to know Sol more and more, I have the feeling that the best for him is yet to come in his current role. The work he’s doing at the LDC is very much needed. Our best wishes to him and the LDC! What a great experience! SOL TRUJILLO, A MAN WITH A VISION TO IMPROVE THE IMAGE OF LATINOS.

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Chesterton, perhaps the 20th century’s greatest writer and genius, wrote that there were two kinds of artists in the world. “There are two senses in which an artist may work to awaken wonder. One is the basest and vulgarist kind of art; the other is the highest and noblest kind of art. The former is meant to makes us wonder at the artist; the latter is meant to make us wonder at the world.” In this Arts, Entertainment and Media issue, there are a number of artists profiled. There are also some Latinos in media. You can be the judge of what kind of artists they are, according to Chesterton. But the fact remains that the arts and media world is every bit as influential if not more so than during Chesterton’s era, during the beginning of the 20th century. In this issue, our cover story centers on Eduardo Yáñez, perhaps Mexico’s current biggest leading man in telenovelas and movies. He has tried to crack Hollywood for the last 20 years, unsuccessfully, yet he vows to keep at it.

Publisher Jorge Ferraez

President and CEO Raul Ferraez

Editor-in-Chief: Joseph Treviño jtrevino@latinoleaders.com Director of Journalism: Mariana Gutierrez Briones mariana@latinoleaders.com Director of Communications & Special Events Yol-Itzma Aguirre yaguirre@latinoleaders.com Administrative Director: Lawrence Teodoro Circulation Manager and Editorial Assistant Stephanie Rivas srivas@latinoleaders.com Managing Editor José Escobedo jescobedo@latinoleaders.com Washington, D.C. Sales Associate and Representative Deyanira Ferraez dferraez@latinoleaders.com Art Director: Fernando Izquierdo ferdiseno@latinoleaders.com


Talk about persistence. Judi Jordan, our West Coast Editor, interviewed Patricia Riggen, director of The 33. She also interviewed Ricky Martin, regarding his comeback. I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Rodríguez, who is perhaps America’s best essayist alive. Rodríguez is surely what Chesterton had in mind when he said that this kind of an artist is meant to make us wonder at the world. Also in this issue we bring you the 15 top Latinos in Arts and Media. You don’t want to miss this impressive list. Yes, we are known for documenting Latinos in the corporate world and that is good. But with this issue, we believe we are taking things a few steps further; we also want to be known for our arts and media coverage. Artists are influential, as Chesterton said. But the problem may lie when art critics become more important than artists. That is, their orthodoxy becomes more important than the Vox Populi: you. That is why we let artists speak for themselves. You be the judge.

Editorial Art & Design: Rodrigo Valderrama Carlos Cuevas Luis Enrique González Eduardo David Rodríguez West Coast Editor Judi Jordan judijordanll@yahoo.com Human Resources Manager: Susana Sanchez Administration and Bookkeeping: Claudia García Bejarano Executive Assistant to the Publishers: Liliana Morales Circulation System Manager: Raúl Hernández For advertising inquiries, please call 214-206-4966 x 225. Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino (ISSN 15293998) is published seven times annually by Ferraez Publications of America Corp., 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA, November 2015. Subscription rates: In U.S. and possessions, one year $15.00. Checks payable to Ferraez Publications of America, 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Latino Leaders, 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA.© 2001 by Ferraez Publications of America Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without the consent of Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino. The periodical’s name and logo, and the various titles and headings therein, are trademarks of Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

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Latino Leaders The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA Phone: (214) 206-4966 / Fax: (214) 206-4970


Stories by Staff

of Latino Leaders

MONITOR EDUARDO MARQUEZ Striving for Excellence

Eduardo Marquez

Photo by: Molly Quirk

Courtesy photo


duardo Marquez is a foreign associate in the International Practice Group in the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone, LLP. He focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions and cross-border transactions. Eduardo holds a law degree from ITESM where he received the Student Development Diploma for student leadership awards and has an LL.M., in International Business and Economic Law from Georgetown University Law Center where he graduated with distinction and was part of the Dean’s List; he was also a student Fellow of the Institute of International Economic Law. In 2013 Eduardo worked as a short-term consultant at the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) in the Financial and Private Sector Development Unit, and intern during the 2013 summer at the Executive Office of the Secretary for Legal Affairs of the Organization of American States. Eduardo also completed a study abroad program at the Institute d’Études Politiques, Sciences Po in Toulouse, France in 2010. Eduardo is the president and founder of the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos youth chapter in Dallas as well as an active member of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations. Eduardo has published several academic and specialized articles related to international business and social entrepreneurship, which have been published by prestigious universities in Mexico and Colombia, as well as by the World Bank.

BORDER ENERGY FORUM XXII Creating synergies between both nations


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Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush Courtesy photo

ver 200 top corporate executives, government officials and potential investors gathered in San Diego, California, to participate in the Border Energy Forum – edition XXII, October 14-16. During the two-day event, panelists, industry leaders and keynote speakers targeted pressing energy issues that affect the development of the economy and energy infrastructure of the US-Mexico border. Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, was the keynote speaker during the event that for the past 20 years has set the stage to increase regional development of clean energy projects. The forum’s mission is to promote cross-border energy trade, and present advance technologies and innovative solutions for sustainable resource management. A unique trait is that the forum offers its attendees the opportunity to interact with top energy industry leaders from both countries in a professional and friendly setting. Guests gave a warm welcome to closing keynote speaker, Vicente Fox, who served as President of Mexico from 2000 to 2006. The bilingual forum, which fosters collaboration and discussion of the most efficient and environmentally friendly uses of energy presented topics such as: Attracting Capital to the New Mexican Electricity Market, Energy Infrastructure Security, The Policy Update: Thoughts from Energy Policy Leaders among others. The Border Energy Forum is a non-profit event made possible through sponsorships and grants

Vicente Fox, President of Mexico from 2000 to 2006.


FUTURE LEADERS OF THE ARTS This issue is chockfull of stars. Eduardo Yáñez, Ricky Martin, Jacob Vargas and Patricia Riggen, just to name a few. But this portfolio is not about that. It’s about showcasing some great yet relatively unknown talent that you should really get to know. There’s Daniela Ruiz, a young filmmaker who is working hard to make it in Hollywood, where there is few women directors and even less Latinas. Or how about Catalina Gonzalez, a Dallas fashion designer who launched a baby line of clothing. There’s more, much more. If you are looking for culture, you came to the right place. Take David Torres, a journalist turned poet who explores being Latino in America. Or Marco Antonio Flores, the author of a thriller novel from Arizona who may just have the key to border relations. All of our portfolio leaders are brilliant. Enjoy.

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Photo by Marianne Williams



THOUGH DANIELA started her storytelling journey in theatre, film theory and writing for television, she has made a sharp turn into producing films in Hollywood, CA. Daniela Ruiz is a millennial, bilingual and bicultural filmmaker – with many stories to tell. Daniela fell in love with film as a kid when she spent endless hours watching films with her father. She followed her passion by earning a Bachelor of Science in TV, Film, and New Media Production from San Diego State University. After graduating she wrote, developed and produced multiple seasons of Spanish language shows for MTV Networks in Miami and later in New York City. Earlier this year Daniela earned a Master of Fine Arts in Producing from

the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, CA. While at the AFI she produced seven narrative short films and is currently in development with two feature films set to begin production in 2016. One is a Spanish language comedy entitled He Matado a mi Marido that she is developing with other Latino filmmakers. Daniela is an active member of Women in Film and is passionate about her participation in the Latino Donor Collaborative (a national organization dedicated to reshaping the perception of Latinos as part of the American social mainstream).

Photo by Paola Hidalgo/ Excélsior Newspaper

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute, we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race,” said Robin Williams as English teacher John Keating, in that classic 1989 film, Dead Poets Society. AS A JOURNALIST who covered L.A.’s 1992 riots, traveled to some perilous parts of the world and been all over the U.S. writing about social and immigration issues, David Torres does poetry not because its pretty, but because it makes him –and us- more human. His book, Heredad de sombras (Inheritance of Shadows), is a lean mean book of free verse poems. The Mexico City native who has lived in the U.S. since the early 1990s now dwells in Washington D.C. where he works for America’s Voice. The poet is about to launch two new works: “Nomadas palabras” (Nomad Words) and Altar de umbrales (Altar of Thresholds), the latter a book of short stories. If you want to perfect your Spanish, read good poetry or go deep into the modern roots of Mexican letters, Heredad de Sombras is a good way to go. As Javier Moro Hernández says about Inheritance of Shadows, its about “silences that are more painful than a scream, there are extensions of reality that poetry can trap like a winkle, a peek of eternity. We are inheritors of shadows, of phantoms, of silences, of voices, of goodbyes that have created us, that have been polishing us letter by letter, until forming a gaze that can see through solitude and silence to reconstruct them patiently, slowly.”

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To acquire a copy of Heredad de sombras, go to www.cuadrivio.com/Poesia/poesiaheredad-de-sombras.html




Courtesy photo



THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL How do you fashion baby clothes? What materials do you use? ASK CATALINA GONZÁLEZ, founder of Dondolo, a luxury brand that specializes in baby clothing. She got the idea of starting a product for babies after she got a soft Peruvian Pima cotton sleeper. “I saw the need for elegant, highquality — yet durable and comfortable — garments,” Gonzalez said. Originally from Colombia, González lives in Dallas, from where she directs Dondolo. The designer uses high-quality Pima Cotton for her designs. “By wrapping your child in simple elegance, you are wrapping the world with warmth and hope,” González says. When you buy from Dondolo, part of the funds goes to needy families and women of Colombia, who are working in confectioning the brand’s line. How cool is that! You can find boutiques that carry Dondolo’s line at http://dondolo.com/


Marco Antonio Flores, author of Nogales, may redefine the political thriller



THE FATE OF THE world hinges on the actions of a couple of cops from two different countries in a small border desert town. That’s the plot of Nogales, a novel by Marco Antonio Flores, a Southern Arizona native whose book has already caused a stir in the local scene even before publication. The plot of this international thriller happens in Nogales, a name for the two neighboring towns in the U.S. and Mexico that are separated by the border. A horror worse than 9/11 is upon the border, it threatens the presidents of both countries and the stability of the world. But will the sacrifice and friendship of two locals –each from an opposite side of the border- stand a chance against such evil? The man behind the thriller is a suave, mild-mannered gentleman of culture who was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona. He knows every inch of the border and his town and believes the people of the area will be pivotal for the future of both the U.S. and Mexico. Could Flores be the next Frederick Forsyth, the master of political thrillers? Only time will tell, but some locals believe that the hype behind his novel is completely justified. For now, the debonair writer who resembles “The most interesting man in the world” is only interested in telling the story of his hometown. If you would like to contact Flores he says to email him at marco@monument122.com

Music man

Meet Chris Verdugo, director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles


Verdugo's leadership, activism and passion for music have led him to meet people like music icons Emilio and Gloria Estefan and actress Reese Witherspoon.


“No other gay men’s choir does what we do in terms of advocacy,” the executive director declares with pride. hris Verdugo is a music lover. Maybe he was born that way. “I was hooked on music probably from birth,” he says. Born in Florida, Verdugo grew up listening to tropical rhythms at home–his father is Cuban, his mother Puerto Rican. He pursued singing in college, but dropped out to perform on cruise lines and try other ventures. Today, music still rules his world but with a twist. Verdugo, 43, is the executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. With about 300 members and a $1 million budget, the group is one the largest of its kind in the U.S. And Verdugo, GMCLA’s first Latino director, is one of the main reasons behind it. When he took over in 2011, GMCLA had around 170 members and a budget of a halfmillion dollars. The group has increased its popularity under Verdugo, too. “We have raised the profile of our organization, growing our brand both artistically and from an advocacy standpoint,” he says. GMCLA has been featured in television shows like I am Cait with Caitlyn Jenner and Parks and Recreation, the VH1 Awards, and the Academy Awards, when they were hosted by comedian Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame. Recently, the group’s It Gets Better: True Colors video, featuring the choir performing Cyndi Lauper’s classic hit, surpassed one million views, according to Verdugo. He says the 2010 video inspired an even bigger project, the It Gets Better Tour, an ever-expanding, GETTIN one-week residency program that visits high schools and middle schools in Southern CHRIS G TO KNOW California and across the nation to promote the prevention of bullying against lesbian, VERDU GO gay, transgender and bisexual persons. But it also tackles racism, obesity and even Chris is The dire climate change. ctor of th e “No other gay men’s choir does what we do in terms of advocacy,” the executive of Los A Gay Men's Cho ngeles rus director declares with pride. His spe cialty is Some projects speak to Verdugo’s Latino roots. This year he brought Mano a Music He has . He lives for it. Mano, Cuba’s first and only men gay men’s chorus, for their first performance raised th e pro of his org ever in North America. anizatio file n C His leadership, activism and passion for music have led Verdugo to meet He is frohris is originall m y from Flo people like music icons Emilio and Gloria Estefan and actress Reese Witherspoon. pursued Cuban and rida P singing This summer he met presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. in colleguerto Rican orig e but dro in. He perform pp in cruise And in early October he got to shake hands with President Barack Obama. lines. ed out to What did he say to the leader of the Free World? “I thanked him for what the White House has done for LGBT youth and equality and what that means to our community,” he says. “I also told him about what GMCLA’s anti-bullying campaign has done.” Those are some big accomplishments for someone born in predominantly Cuban municipality of Hialeah, Florida and who grew up in Opa-Locka, one of the poorest and most violent cities in the state. “I never imagined that a poor kid like me would one day be where I am, meeting Obama, Clinton and the Estefans,” he says. “It almost seems unbelievable.” Maybe music led him down this path. Tropical sounds serenaded his childhood – a grandfather led an orchestra called El Combo de San Juan and Verdugo’s mother was a singer. Majoring in singing was his goal in college, but he dropped out to perform and produce shows for cruise lines for a decade. He then worked as a nightclub promoter for a time before turning his attention to nonprofits. The latter line of work took him to Los Angeles in 2003, working for gay organizations like Equality California in support of same-sex marriage. Yet, he still longed for singing. So he joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles in 2006 and toured internationally with the group. He feels especially honored to have performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall during the 2008 “Summer of Love” that turned the tide in favor of gay marriage. Verdugo later became part of the organization’s management, moving up the ranks until landing the top job. While same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S., Verdugo says total equality is still elusive for gay Americans who can be discriminated against forhousing and employment. But he plans to keep opening up minds with GMCLA. “Music,” he says, “is an amazing vehicle to promote social justice.”



LOOKING FOR A HIT One of Mexico’s biggest movie stars, Eduardo Yáñez has been trying to crack Hollywood for 20 years 20 • October / November 2015

Story by: Joseph Treviño Photos: Emilio Flores


of 1984. Think Wicked City, the new ABC series about a dangerous Los Angeles during Hollywood’s most decadent era. Prince was making a smash on the music charts and movies with Purple Rain, the city had hosted the Olympics and smog married the dense fog, giving Los Angeles a London-type atmosphere when I found myself working as a concession stand boy for The State Theater.




N MOVIES AND soap operas in Latin America and with U.S.-Spanish-speaking Latinos, Eduardo Yáñez rocks. Sporting an ultra fit physique at six-feet-three inches, Yáñez has been hailed as one of the hottest actors from Mexico since the mid-1980s. Still, he is not as well-known to mainstream audiences in the U.S. and to more assimilated Latinos who do not follow telenovelas or Mexican cinema. But he is making inroads. Ladrones, a comedy in which he co-stars with Fernando Colunga was released nationwide and was a hit. As a Generation X Latino of Mexican origin who grew up in Los Angeles, I have known Yáñez since the mid-1980s, ever since he exploded on the big screen in a cult favorite of Mexican Cinema, La Muerte Cruzó El Río Bravo (Death crossed the Río Bravo), a South of the Border Western revenge flick filmed in the gorgeous natural scenery of the Mexican state of Durango. My parents were from rural Mexico, which meant that as a first-generation U.S.born teen, I spoke Spanish at home and learned English at public schools. Though I faced the challenges of growing up bilingual, long before the “Latino boom” of the late 1990s made speaking Spanish popular, watching movies, especially from Mexico and Latin America, helped. Many assimilated Latinos complain, rightly so, about the lack of role models or that they never see people like them on the big screen or on TV. Though Hispanics have made inroads in the media, one place where Latinos, especially men, have not had much success is in Hollywood. Something that may have helped, like it did to me and other teen Hispanics from the 1980s, was to be fed a diet provided by the Spanish International Network (the media conglomerate that later became Univision) seeing largerthan-life stars who battled the forces of evil as Mexican wrestlers, rugged cowboys. Divas like Verónica Castro and Lucía Méndez were the rage on the feminine front. As an adolescent, every Sunday after Mass, friends and I from my Lincoln Heights housing projects I would hop on an RTD bus that carried us past Little Italy, strolled by colorful Chinatown — full of immigrants just like the hoods I grew up in— and snaked down Broadway Street. There, looming large upon the teeming streets filled with L.A.’s diverse population that resembled Bladerunner, were the most lovely and extravagant movie palaces in the world— the Million Dollar, the Orpheum, the Los Angeles— buildings erected from the turn of last century through the 1930s. They were architectural gems from another era; some seats were worn, the murals had chipped and little children in the audience often cried during shows, but the theaters held onto their vintage opulence. It was the winter

Broadway street had been in decay for decades, but filled with people from all over the world, it was the epitome of excitement when I took Cristina, my future wife, across the street to see La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo, starring an up-and-coming Eduardo Yáñez. We went into The Palace, another cavernous movie theater. Amidst the mostly Latino immigrants, we saw Yáñez face-off against veteran actor Eric Del Castillo in an action yarn typical of border action Mexican movies of the 1980s. To the millions of immigrants, mostly from Mexico, Central America and their relatives in the U.S., it did not matter that high-brow movie critics in tony Mexican newspapers refused to review films like these. Movies starring Yáñez and other popular leading men often spoke to the masses in ways that perhaps Hollywood productions or some of the Latino art house films did not. Back in the 1980s, Mexican cinema’s new young star was Eduardo Yáñez, who has since starred in many films. He moved to the U.S. latinoleaders.com

in the early 1990s and has been working in Hollywood for decades. For 20 years, Yáñez, who know resides in a lush, trendy apartment complex in West Los Angeles, has divided his career between working in Hollywood films and starring in Televisa telenovelas, which often beat English-speaking, U.S.produced shows during prime time in the ratings. Still, at 55, he yearns to make it as big as he has made it in Latin America, where he is the embodiment of a Latin Lover. In a recent inter-

view, Yáñez sports his hair cropped and wears a beige work shirt. His voice, demeanor and large hands are as firm as ever. He is serious about work, but he still boasts a winning smile that has seduced countless women in movies. “We can’t deny that the U.S. market is the universal market of entertainment,” he says. “That’s why I insist so much.”

The Black Palace

Yáñez was born in Mexico city on September 25, 1960. It was a Sunday. 22 • October / November 2015

A tall, raven-haired beauty, María Eugenia Yáñez came from a family from Aguascalientes, who like millions of others, migrated to Mexico’s gargantuan capitol. A single mother, she raised Eduardo and three brothers while she worked as a prison guard. The future star of Mexican telenovelas and cinema admits he has no memory of his biological father. He does recall a stepfather who later left. Growing up in working-class neighborhoods like Pensador Mexicano, fatherless and poor, Yáñez narrates that he had to earn every inch of ground he walked on. At age 7, in a futile attempt to help his mother with money, he started to sell Mexican gelatin at 7 in the morning; at 11 a.m. it was offering paletas to customers and shoe shines by 4 p.m. When the kid was not at school or out on the streets offering popsicles or shining shoes, he accompanied his mother to work EDUARDO YÁÑEZ AND EDITH at Lecumberri, Mexico’s most GONZALEZ, IN A SCENE FROM “EN CARNE PROPIA,” A TELENOVELA FROM famous and terrifying prison, 1990. PHOTO CREDIT: TELEVISA. where only two people escaped in its 76-year history: Pancho Villa and Dwight Worker, an American activist who dressed up as a woman during his flight. Called “El Palacio Negro” (The Black Palace), Lecumberri was a unique experience for a kid, Yáñez says. The good-looking boy was popular among female prison guards and women inmates. “It was a very special world that makes you an introspective, it makes you value freedom,” he recalls. “You get to know so many human traits that make you very sensitive. The images I have in my head, I can’t forget and I don’t want to forget them. I feel that that is when my life began.” There was never a dull moment on the streets where he used to get into fights, which in his neighborhood was part of growing up. Yet it was in junior high, at Vocacional 1 that he learned to channel his teen anxieties by playing American football; the discipline of the gridiron gave him the needed tools to hone his unbridled drive. This is where his natural musculature and height came in to play. To this day, he still keeps tabs of his teammates of Los Carneros. “The game taught me that you learn how to fall and how to get up. There is no way you are going to stay down,” he says. Who knows if he would have gone on to a pro career, but a walk home from the football field changed his life forever, he recalls. As he strolled with a group of Carnero teammates, the jocks spotted a group rehearsing a play. “There was this good-looking actress. What caught our attention was what was going on. The following days we stopped and watched,” Yáñez tells. The group was a troupe of “Teatro Experimental”: experimental theater that is popular in Latin America’s urban areas. Mexico has one of the largest theater cultures in the world, where hundreds of plays that range from

Mr. Telenovela

However, he never left the theater, going at it for three full years, learning from the masters, who had connections with “Fotonovelas,” romantic photonovels consisting of still photographs and captions, often starring well-known television and movie stars. Then someone contacted him with Televisa, Latin America’s biggest television empire and the bastion of telenovelas, soap operas that for decades have been exported all over the world in dozens of languages. Yáñez’s first crack at the telenovela world was in 1981 as an extra, playing a barman, in El Hogar que Yo Robé, which was produced by big-time producer Valentín Pimstein and starred Angélica Máría and Juan Ferrara. He was then 21. Yáñez went from being an extra to a role in Quiéreme Siempre, which starred then A-list movie (this was still 1981) and telenovela star Jacqueline Andere and veteran actor Jorge Vargas. He got to play Carlos, the boyfriend of one of Mexico’s future telenovela queens, Victoria Ruffo, the dark-haired beauty who would storm Mexico and later the world with international soaps like Simplemente María. Quiéreme Siempre also introduced Yáñez to the man who would become key in his career and life: Ernesto Alonso. In those days Alonso was already the undisputed king of Mexican soaps. A classically trained actor from Mexico’s golden age cinema (he narrated Luis Buñuel’s Los Olvidados), Alonso turned to telenovelas in 1960. By the 1980s, he was a master at the genre and would go on to produce 157 telenovelas. “He [Alonso] taught me, he disciplined me,” Yáñez says, his voice quivering. “He was like a father to me. I can thank him for what I am today.” Raúl Araiza, a veteran director and Alonso’s righthand man, recalled a few years before his death in 2013 how Yáñez went from being a novice to a pro. He often said that with Alonso’s classical discipline, the young actor learned the basics and honed his craft. “Lalo was educated old-school style, because I used to nag him a lot because he used to be late. He became a very punctual young man,” he told Galavision during 2007 interview. Yáñez needed all the help and discipline he could get, because he would act next to Ernesto Alonso himself, as the master played Enrique de Martino, a millionaire and satanist in El Maleficio. The all-star cast included


classical to comedy to musicals are showcased every day, often to full houses. It was during these days, when he worked at a small, neighborhood tortilla factory, that he met Norma Adriana García, a client and a young beauty about his age. She won his heart. In the meantime, he went through Mexico’s basic Army training, which earned him his I.D. card. That, in turn, permitted him to work. He tried getting his foot in the door at a bank, but was disappointed when he did not get the job as a greeter.


Andere, Norma Herrera, María Sorte, Carmen Montejo, a young and already established Humberto Zurita, Rebecca Jones, teen goddess Erika Buenfil and future star Sergio Goyri. Despite the gorged cast of A-listers, Yáñez managed to steal some scenes as “Diego,” a sports coach. The telenovela was a monster hit, notwithstanding its then-controversial nature due to its horror and occult themes. In 1984, Yáñez, capitalizing on El Maleficio’s success, played in another Alonso production in Tú eres mi destino, next to another teen sensation: Laura Flores. He also got to meet María Félix, the legendary diva.

A big man for the big screen

Many say that the small screen was, well, small for Yáñez, whose physique, charisma and rough around the edges macho nature was tailor made for the big screen. And indeed it was a big screen. Since the 1930s, the Mexican movie industry quickly established itself as the biggest producer of movies in Latin America. Mexico’s golden age gave the Spanish-speaking world many stars, including Cantinflas, María Félix, Pedro Infante and others. But by the 1970s, historians agree, the movie industry in Mexico was on a downward trend. Still, state-financed films produced notable, art house filmmakers like Felipe Cazals, Jorge Humberto Hermosillo and others who paved the way for latinoleaders.com

Mexico’s current Nuevo Cine Mexicano. In one way or another, they permitted directors like Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu to break out by the 1990s. By the 1980s, it was another story. There were a few notable films, but most of the 170 films per year (still one of the biggest in the world next to Hollywood) were “Fichera” (taxi dancer) comedies with adult themes and “Frontera” (border) flicks, violent, bloody, drug dealers yarns or modern day Westerns. It was one of the latter that Yáñez was to star in. Through the years, La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo became a cult favorite. Filmed in Santiago Papasquiaro and produced by Spanish movie mogul Carlos Vasallo, Yáñez took Mexico’s film industry, which was already on its deathbed, by storm (please see full review in this edition). Sure, there was competition from fellow novices like Sergio Goyri and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez and veteran stars like Valentín Trujillo and Andrés García. But the young guns were not at his level and the veterans were past their prime. The only leading man who was still the

undisputed king of Mexican cinema was Jorge Rivero. But by this time, Rivero had moved to Hollywood. Vasallo, who has always had a good eye for films, casted a young, drop-dead gorgeous Maribel Guardia, old hand Narciso Busquets and Eleazar García “Chelelo” as comic relief. Seasoned Eric del Castillo and a few other actors of the time were chosen as the bad guys. Seeing the success of La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo, studio executives casted Yáñez in Contrato con la muerte (Contract with Death), another modern Western just as full of gunplay as “La muerte.” A string of films followed. Some of them, like Yako, cazador de malditos (a Ramboesque revenge film that takes place in the woods of Southern California) and Narcoterror (a strictly mobster action movie) have become cult favorites. Many criticize that genre of movies from Mexico as trash, with little quality, with actors doing half-hearted attempts. Yáñez disagrees. “I really suffered through them,” he would go on to tell me in 1996 during an interview in Los Angeles, when I was at La Opinión, the biggest Spanish-language daily in the country. “I believed it all.” Felicia Mercado, a top star of Mexican soaps and films during the ’80s and ’90s who co-starred with Yáñez in films like Narcoterror, praised Yáñez during the interview I did for La Opinión. She said he was the consummate pro. “He always knew his lines and was on time,” Mercado said. Norma Herrera, a veteran actress of films and telenovelas, who was also the wife of Araiza, said during an interview with Televisa for a special show on Yáñez, that he was tailor made for being the new hero, but with great acting skills. Herrera, like Yáñez, also took part in El Maleficio.


24 • October / November 2015

EDUARDO YÁÑEZ •Age: 55 years old. •Nationality: Mexico •Lives: In Los Angeles. •Civil status: He is currently single. He has been married twice. •Who makes him happy: His son, Eduardo Yáñez Jr. •Biggest telenoveas he has starred in: Destilando Amor, Senda de Gloria, Fuego en la sangre, Amores con trampa. •Biggest movies in Mexico: La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo, Contrato con la muerte, Yako, Cazador de Malditos, Narcoterror. •Biggest movies in Hollywood: The Punisher, Striptease, Held-up. •What makes him a leader, his philosophy: Never, ever give up. He gets beaten down, but he always gets up. A real warrior.

“He has that rugged figure few actors have,” said Herrera. “He is the virile type, but handsome.”

The day Mexican cinema died

Some speculate that Yáñez, if he would have continued to star in movies, would have taken Rivero’s place (the icon was a genuine sex symbol who starred in box office smashes in Mexico, Latin America and the places in the U.S. where they showed Mexican movies targeting immigrants, which were many). But one thing stood in his way: the demise of commercial Mexican cinema. Most movie history books about the Mexican film industry are full of Mexico’s golden age of movies. Tin Tan, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante, Pedro Armendariz, Maria Felix and Dolores del Rio are well documented. But in a sort of historical amnesia – whether by deliberate or not – cinematic historians omit almost every reference to the movies of Mexico produced from the late 1970s and 1980s, when Yáñez busted onto the scene. Genre movies, though not as creative as previous generations, still attracted audiences. For example, Hugo Stiglitz, the Mexican actor known mostly for genre movies of that era, is a Quentin Tarantino

favorite, and other films from that era directly influenced filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, who even made his own “frontera” movie in El Mariachi. Notwithstanding, dark clouds had been hovering above the Mexican movie industry since the 1970s. Left-leaning president Luis Echeverria had budgeted in 1970 one billion pesos — then an enormous sum — to fund a rash of new filmmakers who brought a bold but not so commercial aspect to the box office. But the new state-funded cinema (the spiritual father of today’s “New Mexican Cinema”) clashed with studio-driven cinema (of which Yáñez was part of). The left-leaning state movies claimed that commercial movies were trash, while the studios believed that the money poured into the new films was being wasted on directors full of themselves whose work always crashed at the box office. By 1988, Yáñez was already an established name in Mexico, able to command projects, star in telenovelas and lead movies that made money and even go on tour to promote movies in Los Angeles for the considerable Spanish-speaking media. In 1989, the year that Jorge Fons’ Rojo Amanecer about the Massacre at Tlatelolco came out—a critical and commercial success—was the year everything went to hell in the Mexican movie industry. Historians concur that a perfect storm made up of a cinema that forgot about how to make movies for the large, traditional Mexican family (horrible, sex comedies for male loners), a series of savage economic depressions, the advent of a video market and an ever-present corruption killed commercial Mexican cinema. EDUARDO YÁÑEZ, AT THE FRONT LOBBY OF HIS APARTMENT COMPLEX, DURING A SEPTEMBER PHOTO SESSION.

Tough times

On both the big screen and the small one, Yáñez kept busting out hit after hit, albeit with a few flops. Senda de Gloria (Path of Glory), one of the many and best of Alonso’s “historical telenovelas” about the end of the Mexican revolution and the years that followed, won critical acclaim by respected historians and won the TV Novelas award for best soap opera of 1987. Yáñez, who nabbed best actor trophy, played Manuel Fortuna, a journalist who chronicles that era. A year later, Yáñez starred in the hit teen soap, Dulce Desafio, telenovela—the first of many times he was paired with Adelan Noriega—that also earned him a TV Novelas best actor title. He was on a role. By 1990 the movie business in Mexico had imploded, but Televisa was as busy as ever, producing soap operas that it exported —and still does to this day— all over the world. Yáñez was its main leading man, starring in hits like Yo compro esa mujer, directed by the critically acclaimed Fons and En carne propia, where he plays a private eye, were big ratings hits. His personal life was another matter, though. For years, he acknowledged he had become a drinker. “Starting latinoleaders.com

at 10 in the morning, I would get my first beer,” he recalls. “That lasted about five or six years.” He married his teenage girlfriend, Norma Adriana Garcia, who he had been with since his the days he worked at a tortilleria. Eduardo Yáñez Jr. was born in 1988. But the drinking, long hours at work and business trips took their toll on the marriage. The couple divorced in 1991.

Coming to America

With his career going well but his personal life on the rocks, Yáñez decided to leave, he says. His desti-

English-language market. Yáñez was not the first class A actor from Mexico to chuck it all and risk a new career in the U.S. Jorge Rivero had done it during the 1980s, as well as Fernando Allende and Lucía Méndez. “I believe he [Yáñez] was one of the pioneers in leaving everything and trying his luck in a different country, in a differente language,” said Gabriel Soto, a leading man in Televisa soaps who is also Yáñez’s friend, to Valle, during a Galavision story. “I believe he was one of the first to do that, but people don’t remember that.” At first glance, observers and U.S.-born Latino actors often believe that foreign actors from Hispanic countries who arrive with big names and fame have an advantage with casting directors. But actors like Jorge Rivero, who made a career of working in Latin America and the U.S. for decades, disagrees, adding that all that acting experience and big names don’t hold much sway with casting directors. For Yáñez, as for most actors from Latin America, the language was a barrier. But his steely discipline (his dedication is legendary in Mexico, where during nine months of telenovela filming he will sleep an average of two hours per night, rehearsing his lines to perfection) took him to master the language in record time.



nation? America. Yáñez still had a problem with drinking, but to his aid came Mendez, his co-star in Marielena, an independently produced telenovela. Yáñez credits the soap opera queen for steering him away from alcohol. He sobered up. Marielena, aired by Telemundo, became the first telenovela to beat Univision—which was then fed by a steady crop of Televisa soaps—in the ratings game. Marielena producers proved their soap opera had not been a fluke. A year later Yáñez led Guadalupe, another independently produced telenovela (which this time co-starred Adela Noriega), in trouncing Univision during prime time. The feat was replicated not only among Spanishspeaking viewers in the U.S., but all over Latin America and Spain. Guadalupe also earned him an Emmy, whichinspired him to go all out for a career in the 26 • October / November 2015

I met Yáñez for the first time in 1996. He had barely moved to Hollywood from Miami, when someone tipped us on this move. I was an entertainment reporter for La Opinion, the venerable Spanish-language daily in Los Angeles. I decided to find out what Yáñez was up to. He received me in a clean, low-key apartment in Hollywood, where he would stay indoors for weeks, dungeon-like, practicing for hours his English skills and movie parts. He kept in shape by going to the gym every day. Yáñez got lucky, getting a part in Striptease, the Demi Moore film. He played a bad guy in a scene next to the diva. I asked him back then if it was not a crazy move to leave his spot as king of telenovelas, which was quickly taken over by Fernando Colunga, for the life a struggling actor in Hollywood. He admitted it was a risky move, but it was something that he wanted to do. He felt he had much more to give, and Hollywood was as big a challenge as there ever was going to be. “I feel that I can try this out for 10 years,” he told me. “If I want to go back, I will pick up the phone myself and call.” He would often lose roles to more mundane-looking Latino actors who were practically unknown in Latin America and, for that matter, with U.S. Latinos. You got the feeling that his good looks, fame and physique worked against him with casting directors who would look for thespians to play gang members or gardeners. Still, he managed to land a few good roles, like Held-up, a comedy in

Como Mexico no hay dos

Mexico’s biggest leading man has had his ups and downs in Hollywood. After divorcing García, his first wife, he married Francesca Cruz and then divorced her a few years later. But no doubt the biggest change in his life was when his son, Eduardo Yáñez Jr. (who was then 15), decided to move into his Beverly Hills apartment. The actor discovered fatherhood shocking— and just what he had been missing. “I found out that I needed him. I started to be a father. My love for a son fills me, it gives me everything,” he says. Father and son got along well. The youngster quickly adapted to American life. As things were going well with his son, Yáñez was experiencing economic troubles. With little money coming in from acting in Hollywood, he got into debt. He recalls that it was during one of those darkest days that Salvador Mejía, one of Televisa’s biggest soap opera producers, called him up to be in one of his productions. Yáñez thought that he was offering him the lead role, but was shocked to find out that it was for a small part. “You are no longer for lead roles,” he recalls Mejia telling him. “You are for special appearances.”’ Humiliated, Yáñez begrudgingly turned him down. And soldiered on. “I believe he [Yáñez] is a warrior,” said Martha Carrillo, a writer from Mexico who specializes in entertainment to Galavision. “Imagine that such an important producer tells you that you are no good, anyone would start to cry. Eduardo said, “I am good. He proved it.” Unlike Mejia at that time, Emilio Larrosa, a veteran and bold telenovela producer who is also known for making cultural programs, thought of Yáñez when production time came for La verdad oculta, a remake of El camino secreto, which had been a big hit for Daniela Romo and Salvador Pineda in 1986. Twenty years later, Larrosa needed a larger-than-life figure who could really act and carry it for 120 episodes during prime time. He turned to Yáñez. “I thought it was the right time for him to return to Televisa,” Larrosa told Televisa. “I think a lot of people thought he was no longer in shape. He proved that he is a physically attractive man and that his acting skills are proven. All the augurs that he was not in shape were dispelled.” Again, Yáñez won the coveted best actor award for 2006. He was back.Arguably his greatest hit came in 2007, when he starred next to the future first lady of


which he plays a robber with a good cause. He ends up stealing scenes—and the movie—from Jamie Foxx. If we for a moment think that’s a small feat, let’s not forget that Foxx later went on to win an Oscar and star in cool movies like Django Unchained. In Hollywood, Yáñez has played bad guys in movies like The Punisher. But so far he has not landed that big breakthrough role that could have him replicate his success in the Latino market.


México, Angélica Rivera in Destilando amor. The telenovela was a runaway hit and is considered one of the best soap operas of all time. Mejía, the producer who allegedly told Yáñez he was no longer fit to star in telenovelas, has hired him twice to lead some of the biggest and boldest soaps in recent years. With Amores con trampa, Yáñez’s latest telenovela, he has won more accolades. Yáñez has traveled back and forth, from Los Angeles to Mexico City, doing hit soaps for about nine months and coming back to castings in Hollywood. He is the man in Mexico, but in the U.S. he still has his work cut out for him. Last month, he joined his former telenovela rival, Fernando Colunga, in Ladrones, a hit comedy that was released nationwide in theaters. The film was well received by the public, as well as by some critics. Now that he can command movie projects and television series, he wants to do films with a better message, where he can bring back role models for newer generations, he says. A dark era has clouded Latinodom, and he believes actors like him have a responsibility in bringing a better message via their art. On this sunny day in West Los Angeles, outside his new, posh apartment, Yáñez strips away a designer denim jacket, revealing his muscled torso and trim abs. He changes into a shirt with a smile as he tells me that he refuses to give up on Hollywood, that he will keep at it as long as it takes. He says with a boyish grin, “I am happy but not satisfied. There are a lot of things that I have to do.” latinoleaders.com

High noon in Durango

La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo was Eduardo Yáñez’s first outing in the big screen - it would go on to make him a star Story by: Joseph Treviño Photos: ESME PRODUCTIONS

films — a modern day Western, which was a unique domestic creation. Filmed in 1984, La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo is a no-nonsense action movie. Sprinkle some comedy into it, infuse it with a soundtrack produced by Los Broncos de Reynosa (a norteño band fronted by perhaps the best songwriter of corridos, Paulino Vargas), throw some first-class eye candy in Maribel Guardia and you’ve got the perfect vehicle to launch a young Latin Lover into a celuloid landscape that was famished for new stars. The plot follows the guidelines of a simple revenge Western. Still, it’s a low-budget production that is cool with itself and just happens to have loads of charisma, carried on the shoulders of the country’s newest leading man. The film, directed by Durango native Hernando Name and written by Carlos Valdemar, starts off with Fernando, a young man who is fleeing Durango’s countryside, with his cowboy shirt torn, dirty jeans and matted hair. A truck driver gives him a lift and helps him evade rural highway police before dropping him off at an airport. Flashback to Santiago Papasquiaro, a town in Durango where two older men, the ruddy Don Plutarco, played by veteran actor from Mexico’s golden age, Narcisco Busquets, and Eleazar García “Chelelo,” a comedy actor who started in the movies in the early 1960s, along with Antonio Aguilar, await the arrival of Fernando, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran. Fernando, enacted by Yáñez, finally arrives. Decked in a Stetson hat, western shirt and high-waisted designer jeans worn straight-jacket tight over his buff, perky derriere, he quickly reignites a relationship with “Cristina,” played by the former Miss Costa Rica and astoundingly gorgeous Maribel Guardia, who would go on to become a diva in her own right. Everything seemed to go well until “Generoso,” the local spoiled brat with a mean streak, played by Ernesto Rendon, kills Don Plutarco when the patriarch was trying to defend a blind, elderly street musician from the delinquent junior. Things come to a head when Don Porfirio, played by veteran actor Eric del Castillo (father of Kate del Castillo), the town’s rich, iron man, commands his stable of gunfighters, led by “Tulsa,” (veteran and capable bad guy actor, Carlos Cardán) to silence or kill any witnesses of Generoso’s crime. Unable to see justice done due to Don Porfirio’s muscle tactics, Fernando takes matters into his own hands. He grabs his sawed-off Lupara shotgun, dons a suede, Marlboro Man shearling rancher jacket typical of the era and faces his enemies in the rugged but pretty scenery of Durango that has been a favorite of filmmakers from John Wayne to Brad Pitt. Name, the director, is no John Woo when it comes to directing action. But here you see Yáñez, a jock at heart, doing his own stunts, riding horseback perilously close to cliffs, taking daredevil dives like the luchadores he used to admire as a kid and defying gravity with his 6-3, muscular frame. No need to reiterate that Yáñez looked fantastic. Mexican audiences certainly thought so, turning him into an overnight star.



a muerte cruzó el Río Bravo is an unapologetic Mexican flick with a Spanishspeaking Latino audience in mind, much like Jackie Chan movies or Chow Yun Fat films from Hong Kong were before he was discovered by westerners via John Woo’s heroic bloodshed films. Unlike films produced by New Mexican Cinema, whose target audience is an international or art house viewer, Mexican studios often chunked out 170 movies per year directed solely for a domestic moviegoer, including the important Spanishspeaking market in the U.S. Derided as trash by critics who would not even bother to review genre films, “La muerte” has survived the death of commercial Mexican cinema and become a cult favorite. To this day, it is a fan favorite. Created by Carlos Vasallo, the prolific Spanish producer who then owned ESME, a company that specialized in co-productions that were decades ahead of their time and united film teams from Mexico, the U.S., Spain and other European countries, La muerte cruzó el Río Bravo is an unapologetic B movie typical of 1980s Mexican MOVIE REVIEW

28 • October / November 2015



The Latino



What it means to be


A tour de force interview with Richard RodrĂ­guez, author of Darling, a Spiritual Autobiography Story by: Joseph TreviĂąo Photos: Guillermo Gracia Duarte



First of two parts

ome connoisseurs of the United States literature believe that Mr. Richard Rodríguez is the country’s best living essayist; not just the best Hispanic essayist, but the master of American essayists. His writings during the last four decades have described and homed in on the Latino and American fabric like no one has, with a riveting prose, a wise, keen eye and the art of noticing what few grasp. In a landscape where everybody is searching to be “authentic” and few become that, Mr. Rodriguez has proven to be the real article. Born in Sacramento, California, in 1944, Mr. Rodriguez became part of American literature with Hunger of Memory, his autobiography about growing up in both worlds, telling us the price one has to pay for becoming assimilated; the loss of family, the vicissitudes of loneliness, the growing pains of leaving the womb of a private, homely life for the brusque, often savage arms of a public one. Affirmative action. Bilingual education. Mexico. Race relations. Immigration. God. Homosexuality. From Mr. Rodríguez, you never get what you expect. He gives you so much more. His vision is far above the trivial, at odds with the mundane. He is a gentleman writer, a modern Jonathan Swift, an Albert Camus with an elegant style that is so far above the petty that most other columnists seem trifling in comparison. Take his view on Junipero Serra, the Spanish missionary to California who came under fire when Pope Francis recently canonized him. Rodriguez, who understands as a californio the California dream, is not dreamy about Serra or the Native-Americans who became or were forced to become Catholic. “The postmodern judgment of Serra derives from our imagination of Indians as innocent. Serra did not approach naked Indians with the reverence we might feel for the angelic dolphins. . . Rome had decreed that Indians have souls, were therefore the spiritual equal of Europeans—equal, too, in their need for evangelization,” he wrote in the superb Days of Obligation, published in 1992. Mr. Rodriguez, who is Catholic and very open about his homosexuality, wrote what may be the most beautiful elegy of the Latin Mass of his boyhood days as an Altar boy in Credo, a chapter of Hunger of Memory. Again, he is a rebel who has been belittled as a conservative by progressives imprisoned in their own vagaries. Some of his critics, conservative or liberals, who have chided him for not agreeing with their views, harangue him or do what Latinos seem to do best when they feel offended: pretend to ignore, dismiss or look the other way. Though he has never catered to his critics, one gets the feeling that lately Mr. Rodríguez yearns for Latino readers. He is widely respected by mainstream readers and reviewers of tony publications, but Hispanics readers seem to be elsewhere. An essayist for PBS, a former opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times and for many magazines, Rodríguez is currently promoting Darling, a Spiritual Autobiography. Latino Leaders caught up with Mr. Rodríguez at his home in San Francisco, California. Our publication has done thousands of interviews lately in search of what it means to be Latino, of a Latino agenda (if there is one) and where should we go from here. Most interviewees, especially from the corporate world, have fallen flat. Not Rodríguez. He answered everything we could dish out and with his graceful style, came back with answers that you do not foresee, telling us why we are so lonely, what it really means to be Latino and why the likes of Donald Trump dislike us. Latino Leaders- These days you are promoting your latest book. Richard Rodríguez- My latest book was a book called Darling. I need to say to Latino audiences I don’t exist as a Latino writer. In bookstores I’m in a section called Hispanic literature usually, but I don’t exist in the Spanish speaking worlds. I’m not translated into Spanish in Latin America, I don’t have any relationship as a journalist to México. I did know Octavio Paz and he was very admiring of my book on México called Days of Obligation which was published in 1993. But when I go to Mexico as a journalist I don’t go with Univision. I go with the BBC. So in some sense I’m used by non-Latinos as a way to understand the Latino world. What that means is that I have a lot of freedom. I don’t exist within the Latino world; my authority is outside the Latino world. 34 • October / November 2015


destroy “as we turned this into a racial category, then webasically t is ourselves. We make ourselves irrelevant and tha we have the what we have done in these last few years. But if we only a potential of announcing the end of race in Americo we were.� realize wh


LL – Tell us about Darling …. RR – The first chapter of “Darling” is called “Ojalá”, which is about my discovery and encounter with the Arab within us. The Spanish language has about 3500-4000 words that are Arabic in origin. Spain was a Muslim country for many centuries, so already within us is this Arab civilization, so when my mom used to say “ojalá” when I was a boy going to school she would say “ojalá” it’s not going to rain, “ojalá” you are not going to need a rain coat. I don’t think she realized and I didn’t realize at the time that she was speaking the name of Alá. Already there is in us this circle, time is not a straight line that we are connected with civilizations in the past and what is ahead of us is behind us. As I go to the Middle East after September 11 to try to understand Arab civilization and the magnificence of Israel. I’m more aware that I’m not moving to a foreign culture; I’m moving to some part of myself. In many cases the future ahead of me brings me back to my past so I ended up in Cairo feeling more Latino than I felt in Los Angeles. I was connected to these people in some way linguistically and there was some link in us that was very deep. Our heritage is complicated. Any of us that come from Latin America, because so many races meet there, have met there and within my own family. My mother was a very dark skinned Mexican woman with Indian features. My father was more European looking. Within my father’s family there were Jewish relatives so already the complications of being Catholic, Jewish, Indian and Spanish begins in Mexico. By the time they come to the U.S. were already beginning the complexity and continuing it in a new country. The U.S. doesn’t know what to do with our complexity because the U.S. is a country largely organized by blood rather than by culture. People are interested in your race, your blood, whether you’re white or black principally and not the complexity of your culture. Nobody knows what to do with you. If you say yes I’m católico and I’m also a judío, and that I’m also in Cairo and beginning to realize that I’m an Arab at the same time, nobody knows what to do with that complexity because they always want to simplify culture and they are puzzled by race. The other day the New York Times had a feature, a poll about race relations in America and the only categories they used was white and black. I wrote a letter which they never published. I was really offended by this; there are many millions of us who do not consider ourselves to be white or black. The problem with America is they don’t know what to do with the complexity of Latino, nor do we as we become Americanized know what to do with ourselves. Because we are beginning to think that Latinos is a race, that we constitute a new race in America and that we allow ourselves to be compared to white and black as if these were different categories from us. Many Latinos are white, black, chino, mestizo, of many races. We haven’t even told our children how to understand what it is to be Latino. They are under the impression that’s their race rather than the end of race which is was it really represents and the significance of Latino is the power of culture.


LL –What’s your view on spirituality and how has it evolved? How has your own spiritual life evolved? RR- I’m still Catholic; I have always been interested in religions around me. I went to two years to a seminary in New York. I have studied with rabbis and I’m now deeply interested in Islam. Religion is just a continuing interest in my life. I’m also I should say 36 • October / November 2015

because I have written this publicly and the religions that I study generally are religions that consider me a sinner. So there is always that complication. Within the Latino culture homosexuality is a problem of a different sort, but within these churches I feel both at home as a Catholic, but also I’m aware of the fact that I’m not at home, that I’m sort of a stranger with these traditions. I don’t think Latinos are quite able as Catholics or Protestants to deal with the homosexual quite yet and we are still problematic in our presence. But I also think as a man of faith that I have a place within these communities. I’m very interested in the evangelical revolution in Latin America and I have spent much time with the evangelical communities. I don’t talk about my sexuality there, but I also feel welcomed there. It is possible to feel welcome and rejected at the same time. LL- You mentioned as Latinos we are not ready to deal with gay people. Can you touch on that? What should we do? RR- It is partially our grandeur as a culture, we have a very strong sense of family. With Pope Francis and his concern with the breakdown of the family in Europe and the Americas, touched on the traditional notion, certainly the one I was raised in, that a man is not simply husband but is a father and that a woman is not simply a wife but she is a mother. The notion of giving birth to the next generation is a central one of the what I called the desert religions. It is in Judaism where the whole story of the civilization is the giving birth to the next generation, and the generation after and so forth. When you suddenly have men and women who are gay and do not give birth, these religions have a great deal of problems with us. I have Mexican relatives who always ask me when I am going to get married? I’m 70 years old and they are still asking me that. By which they mean when am I going to have children? On the other hand it is the same problem with feminism, the revolution among women in our societies is that women do not want to be identified simply as a mother or as a wife. They want to be news for example, to be in the public world as themselves, and the problem that the church is having with this desire of women to be equal to men and not to be judged simply as a mother is a very large one. That is why I see myself connected as a homosexual man to the women’s movement. I think that the issues of women, the control of their own body, with the homosexual revolution, the control of our own sex lives is the same movement. Pope Francis said in an interview once why is it that we always end up talking about is abortion and gay marriage? But the real question is not why is it those two issues, but what is the connections between those two issues? What is the connection between women wanting to control their own life cycle and men who want to get married of each other regardless whether there are fathers?


“I don’t think Latinos are quite able as Catholics or Protestants to deal with the homosexual quite yet and we are still problematic in our presence. But I also think as a man of faith that I have a place within these communities. I’m very interested in the evangelical revolution in Latin America and I have spent much time with the evangelical communities. I don’t talk about my sexuality there, but I also feel welcomed there. It is possible to feel welcome and rejected at the same time.”



LL – Food for thought. RR - In my book Days of Obligation, which Paz was very enthusiastic about and wanted to translate into Spanish and Enrique Krause at Vuelta. He remembers us very well and told me the story where Paz came into the office with three copies of the book and said, ‘at last the Mexican-American has got Mexico’. Days of Obligation - it did not get published in Spanish. In any case that book is very much concerned with my relationship to the fact that many of my relatives have become evangelical Christians and a number of Latin American countries have left Catholicism for evangelical Protestantism. I’m very moved by that, I’m very interested because this is my family. These are people who are related to me. I don’t see them as foreign to me. I see them as part of my life. I think it is possible that by the end of the 21 century that Latin America will be in its majority protestant. Not simply protestant but evangelical protestant. That is a revolution of major sorts. It happened largely because the north, the U.S. went down to the south to convert the south to Protestantism and now you are seeing the reverse; the south convert the north to Protestantism. Both the Catholic church and the protestant churches are dying in America in numbers, but they are being replenished in America as Latinos come into their midst. That is where I see revolution happening right now.

Ceremonies that matter

LL – Can Catholicism be reconciled with sexual preferences, being gay or being a feminist? RR- It is going to have to be. I have many friends who are priests and they will tell you there are not enough priests for most of the parishes in America and what you are going to need is, one, married priests and then you are going to need which is what we are seeing in these other religions; women on the altar, not simply helping, but women on the altar. Anglican priests, bishops now in England, Episcopalian priests who are women, protestant ministers who are women. Even Jewish rabbis who are women and for these religions to survive they are going to have to incorporate women within. There is even in Los Angeles a mosque that is organized and run by women. This is not the future, this is the present. When my book was published the first interview I had for the book was in the basement of Grace Cathedral, the Episcopalian cathedral on Mont Hill in San Francisco. The women who interviewed me was the dean of the church who is a woman. Then I went to New York and was interviewed at union theological seminary. The person who was the president of unity (law school) seminary, the sole liberal protestant seminary on the upper west side of New York is a woman. This is now. I’m not talking about the future and what I’m telling you is that the Catholic Church and some of these evangelical traditions are 38 • October / November 2015

going to have to survive by incorporating the women within them and making them in some sense the mother equal to the father. I grew up saying ‘yes father no father’ at church and ‘yes sister no sister’ at school, but increasingly the person who is going to be serving at the altar will be mother. LL – In an age where the current pope has distanced himself from this mass that you used to serve in and ethos that emanated from that area. How do you view your spirituality and Catholicism? RR – Well it is not as ceremonial as it once was, it’s true. But what religion always gave me from those years is a sense of what it is to be alive, the mystery of our life. For example when I was in school, when I was an altar boy I was often taken out of class and I would go down and serve in a funeral in the middle of the school day. I would put away my arithmetic book and then I would find myself in my black cassock serving at the altar and I knew as a boy from 10 years old the way people grieved. I could sense the rhythms of sorrows in the church and how people would cry at certain parts. I often went to the cemetery. If there weren’t enough people to carry the casket I would carry the casket. There I was at 11 years old feeling the weight of the body in my arm. That doesn’t leave you regardless whether the mass is in Spanish, English or Latin. It is still what I admire most about religion, how it is the closest institution to the rhythms of our life. I don’t know any corporation or political party that reminds us of what it is like to be human, the way religion reminds us to be human and in that sense it doesn’t leave me. I’m still brought back to religion. In the aids crisis I helped many young men die at a time when their families would not come to their bedside. I learned how to administer morphine for example to ease people with their pain. But I never lost the sense of religion, because the patterns of grief were once taught to me by religion and how you clean the body for example. That is a very deep practice within religious routines and it begins in Judaism and it is still a part of Judaism and it is a part of Islam to bathe the dead body. These are rhythms of living that religion has never lost and once you touch them they become part of your life. The rhythm of resurrection, the rhythm of sorrow and death, Good Friday. You don’t need the Latin Mass to give you those rhythms and once they are yours, they are yours forever.

Why we are so lonely

LL - Young people and older people, replace the rhythms of life. In this case lack of reading. Now that we are living off of our cells phones, Twitter is our literature. So what now? What’s next? RR- Well Steve Jobs belongs to my generation and a lot of young people think this technology is theirs, but it was created by a lot of middle age men who are now getting old and some of them have died. But a genius like Steve Jobs knew it is how lonely we are in America and how we need to be in touch with somebody even when we are walking down the street. When we are crossing an intersection we need to send somebody a message. I did not know how lonely people were or how unable to live with loneliness they were. If you let people on an airplane use their cell phones the airplane will be filled with voices because no one can stand to be without that contact. I think there are some companies in America who know just how lonely Americans are and I think Silicon Valley is filled with people now who know about that loneliness. I’m not sure our politicians or corporations know, but I think Silicon Valley understands how lonely our people are and that they go to bed with their phones and even when they go on dates they each will be looking at their phones instead of talking to each other. That is astonishing to me, that is why I’m not a billionaire, but I live here in San Francisco in a neighborhood of very very wealthy 20-year-olds who all work in Silicon Valley or in tech here in town and they are part of a civilization that is always connected. Because what they know is that people do not want to be alone and you can make a lot of money from that realization. Can I say something about young people? One of the things that Latinos have to come to terms with is that the culture that we are professing to love, our Latino culture, let’s not examine that term too carefully because there are a lot of variations within the Latino culture, but generally a strong sense of family for example, ok? We say


“Many Latinos are w hite, black, chino, mestizo , of many races. We haven ’t even told our childre n how to understand what

it is to be Latino. They are under the impression that’s their race rather than the end of race which is was it really represents and

the significance of Latino is the power of culture.”

about Latinos we have a strong sense of family, but America is not a culture of family; it is a culture of leaving the family. And part of the confusion a lot of Latinos feel is that on one hand they are taught at home to be true to the family, to be obedient children, to be loyal to these ties. But the culture of the school classroom and school yard encourages individuality. I remember when I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which is an American classic- it is a story about a boy who runs away from home. Then I started reading all these stories about these famous explorers and statesmen in America and it turns out that a lot of them just got on their horse when they were 15 years old and took off. But it is not Latino, its is a very different culture manifestation. And part of the confusion, which we never want to acknowledge, and part of the reason why so many people have been attracted to gang culture. I’m shocked about how many kids I meet in urban and suburban high schools, Latinos are still in some way engaged in gang

culture. They don’t have to be violent but it is still part of the culture and even their parents were members of the same gang. I remember this school is trying to get no gang colors here, because we are teaching you to be individuals, we don’t want you to be members of a tribe, of a gang. The kids would start wearing colored shoe laces. That is where they put their gang colors. Or they started wearing colored rosaries around their necks because the teachers could not see that. Well, you have to ask, why is it that we do this? And at some level I think this abnormality of gang culture is a result of the fact that we have not been candid with our children, we have not taught them that it is possible to be American in the individualistic sense and also be Latino in the communal and family sense. It is a very tricky negotiation, but it is possible I think to be both. A lot of Latina women would say to me, “when I went to college, I wasn’t allowed to go to college because my parents did not know why I needed to be away from the family or what I was looking for, so my brother got opportunities that I didn’t get.” The brother would say to me, “you know when I graduated my parents did not even come to the graduation.” I was talking to this man the other day who has a P.H.D. in engineering and an MD, he is a doctor and a psychiatrist, a very smart man. He said to me, “in all the years I have been both a doctor and a scientist my father has said nothing to me about my success, he has never mentioned it, has never congratulated me, and I think someday I will say that to an audience of Latinos.” But they need to see the success of their children for what it is. At some level they are losing their children and their children are becoming someone new. If they raised their children well they should not be afraid of that. latinoleaders.com

“a genius like Steve Jobs knew it is how lonely we are in America and how we need to be in touch

with somebody even when we are walking down the street. When we are LL- I remember reading somewhere in the 1920’s Mexican bishops would warn that it was not a good thing to migrate to the US for spiritual reasons, they were leery that families would separate and become protestants. RR - My mother wasn’t worried about us becoming protestant, she was worried about us becoming too American. I know Mexican-American teenagers that when they started acting up were sent back to Mexico to become Mexican and not American and once they settled down they were brought back to the United States. I don’t know how that works these days with the border being such a problem, but there was that sense that America was dangerous to the formation of the Hispanic. Something related to that is our suspicion of people who are opinionated or are saying things that the rest of the community doesn’t agree with. As somebody who has published for many years and who has published opinions that are not accepted as generally the orthodox Hispanic view, I can tell you that you are not welcomed in many places. When I went to a University in Arizona, this was many years after my first book which was skeptical about affirmative action and bilingual education, many Mexican-Americans and Latinos to this day, that book is 30 or 40 years old, will not forget that, have not forgiven me for that and the day that I came to that University all the Mexican Americans on the faculty called in sick. I was just at a college in Minnesota where a Latina had set up a meeting in the afternoon with Latino students and then when she heard what I was saying in the morning lecture she didn’t show up at the meeting she had organized. So we don’t know how to argue among ourselves. When the rebel starts saying things that the rest of the community does not agree with we don’t know what to do with that. We think of that person as having betrayed us, of having become a pocho, as having lost his way in the world and become one of them, one of the others, however you think of those terms. I think it is a very serious problem. That is why intellectually we are not as vibrant as a culture as we should be, because we don’t know how to argue.

and the ministers, people like Martin Luther King Jr. I went to see Malcolm X when he came to town. I was really interested in the movement and the relationship of religion to that social change which black Protestantism, mainly baptist announced. So many years later I write this book called Brown, which is about growing up in black and white America. My uncle was from India and he was a very influential factor in my life because he was from a different culture I did not know anything about. My Mexican aunt married my uncle from India and spent many Christmases with them. So there is already this complexity, this mixture in my life. My cousins who are Mexican-Indians were already part of my life from the very beginning. My sense of America as a very complicated place. I began to know as a boy, reading about African-Americans that there were a lot of marriages with Indians in this country, particularly in the Southeast, taking places like Florida where there were IndianAfricans. That interested me, that whole notion of being mixed. Well I write this book about being brown. The people who are the best reviewers of that book are people who come up to this day on the street and tell me that they had read that book are African-Americans. Latinos do not read that book. I have never heard a response to it, never read a review by them of that book. African-Americans have been dealing with the English language in this country for centuries. They have played with English, they have been rebellious with English. They know the kind of joy and the kind of robustness and the kind of anger within English. We don’t have that linguistic experience. If we are writing in English we are writing it as a relatively new experience. I will be in a table with some executives from Spanish language television and advertising and these are people who in some cases have lived in the US all of their lives and albeit (after) dinner they will revert to Spanish. We are in Bogota, we are talking Spanish to each other. Well if I come along and write English it is very playful and tangled and complicated. People who read that are going to be African-Americans and Jews and Irish people in America because their relationships to the English language is complicated and its long. My despair right now as a Hispanic writer is that I don’t have Hispanic readers.

Where are the Latino readers?

Donald Trump

LL– Was that the reaction when your first book came out? RR- What I get is a more subtle form of that hostility is that I don’t get invited, I don’t get the price, I don’t get the notice. And now this generation of Latino writers, you can ignore me; you don’t have to buy my books anymore, because I’m not in any sense essential. I wrote a book called Brown, which is a book about mixture, about being of more than one race and how foreign that is to America. And I wrote about my affections for African-Americans as a boy. I grew up during the Negro civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 60’s and listened very carefully to the protestant ministers 40 • October / November 2015

LL - Well I hope that changes soon. RR - It is going to change with time. But there isn’t a university that I go to where I do not meet young Latino in their twenties who are writing about their lives and would I look at a chapter of their new book they are writing. I don’t think we have the vibrancy yet as a general culture of African Americans. We can mimic hip-hop but we didn’t invent hip-hop for various reasons. We don’t have the brass, the noise in our voice that allows us to play, to be relevant, to scream and to sing with that voice. It may happen. The evangelical tradition which is a very verbal, have Hispanics join those churches is teaching those kids an American protestant tradition which is very vociferous, noisy and exuberant. Maybe from that generation we are going to get writers and playwrights and singers who are going to sound very black and very redneck. I hope so.

LL- In the last months we have heard a lot from the upcoming elections, Mr. Trump and his discourse,What would Donald Trump add to your first book? RR- That is a very interesting question. I find out from a very interesting comic character. I think he discovered us in a way. I think he was playing with China and Mexico in his early speeches in his new election cycle and than he found something in his audiences that surprised him and maybe surprised us; that is the amount of antipathy towards Latinos now in America. And maybe we didn’t know this because everyone is eating burritos and everyone is marrying each other and liking each other, but maybe not what Donald Trump realized when he saw the audience look back at him in cheer. Maybe while the kids are watching soccer in Univision, maybe people are tired that there is so much Spanish around them and that is what Donald Trump discovered. When I was writing my memories I didn’t feel that so much in the culture because I lived in metropolitan California so I have always been integrated into non Hispanic society’s even from boyhood, where I grew with

Irish Catholic schools, I barely knew any Mexican kids so the idea of being anti-Mexican was an abstraction to me. Someone might have said something to me about being Mexican as an insult, but I did not feel this in any way. I used to have a friend who was a dark Mexican in a family that was also white Mexican and they would go to the little theater in Texas where there was racial segregation and the theater owner knew they were all one family but he would make the light kids sit downstairs and the dark kids sit upstairs. I never knew anything like that. The only racisms I really encountered in my family was against my uncle. One day I was walking with my uncle in Sacramento and someone called him a nigger, my uncle from India. No one called that to my father never, so it didn’t touch me. My mother would refer to parts of the country that were anti-Mexican but I didn’t experience it in my life in that way. This is going to sound odd to you, but the number of Mexicans who were antipocho began to emerge in my life and it became more Americanized. There were visiting members of my family who would insult me, mock me because my Spanish was bad and then when I started traveling in Mexico the number of people who would make fun of me for one being brown, for, second speaking Spanish badly, third, for speaking of America as my country. That is what I was writing my first book about, that in someway I was writing against the experience I had as a Mexican-American who was becoming Americanized. I quote my uncle who comes from Mexico. He drives with his family from Texas and he comes to visit us when I’m a boy and he is the first family member who insults me because I cannot speak Spanish to him. It is he that first spoke. It is not Donald Trump; it is my own Mexican uncle.

LL- Is there a reason why the likes of Mr. Trump focus so much on the Mexican community? Is it fear? They don’t like us? Ethnic cleansing or something we just can’t understand? RR- The persecution of the Jews in Europe for example had as much to do with their success as the persecution of the Mexicans in our society has to do with our failure, being at the bottom of the ladder. We are mocked as people who don’t have much money, don’t have much education. You never see us on TV or if you see us you see light skinned Latinos. Here you have Jorge Ramos is at the press conference. He comes from a Spanish language TV network that in this country has become this multimillion dollar enterprise that does not speak English, but it has been with all these people that speak Spanish, so the United States is a Spanish speaking country. So there is all this grievance in this country against us as losers, as people who are not making our way into society. This country is not anti-Hispanic because running for president there are two Hispanics who are light skinned and they are Cuban-Americans and their politics are not brown. When you come and your politics are brown, when you talk about children being undernourished for example and you sound like you are discriminated against then people are beginning to feel, “well we are giving you a lot by allowing you to be here in the first place and you are telling us is what is wrong with our society.” So generally the Mexican rhetorical tradition which was to emphasize our victimization in America has allowed us to play the loser into Donald Trump’s speech in a way the Cuban-American has not. There are too many important differences in us being Latino. If you look at writers, dress designers, architects for example, the Colombians in America are very different in their tone, in their Americanization than Mexicans. The Puerto Rican is very different than the Cuban. These are very simple ideas. Those of us who are brown have a relationship to each other that is very different from our relationship to those of us who are white. That is just the way that is. We are ignoring another generation and that is there are now many many little Ricky’s, children of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. There are many of them now in America and I have them in my own family and you don’t always identify them as Hispanic because in my family they have German, English and Scottish surnames, but they think of themselves as Latino. latinoleaders.com

know how lonely people were or how unable to live with loneliness they were.”

crossing an intersection we need to send somebody a message. I did not


The real Latino culture

LL- This is something you have dealt in the past as an American of Mexican origin. What would you say should be the new attitude of this community? If it really means to be Mexican-American. RR- If we are really true to our culture we should never allow ourselves to be used as we are often used against African Americans. Where you will see on charts, white, black, Hispanic. We are white and Hispanic, we are not against those categories. If we really understood our identity we come from a culture of many races. We come from a culture that is so strong that it doesn’t regard blood as more important than culture. What makes you Latino it is not that you are a certain color or that you play one kind of music or that you are one religion. What makes you Latino is the capacity to live with a variety of cultures. So that the idea that we would allow ourselves to be used against these other traditions is I think an enormous mistake. I think we identify ourselves more truly as Latino when we take the cause of other people around us. I would love for there to be Latino literary critics for example who are experts on Chinese poetry, for there to be Latino architects who were trained in Germany, for there to be Latino opera singers who would only sing Italian opera. This is what it means to be Latino; it means to be flexible among the cultures of the world. It means that you disallow in your own life, in your own way of thinking a black and white dichotomy and you see yourself as both black and white and chino and Arab and everything else. That is what it means to be Latino. It was a Mexican José Vasconcelos who announced Mexican as la raza cósmica (the cosmic race). We still don’t believe that. I have heard Latino students in tears, many Latinos who are very light skinned, who will tell me that the dark skinned Latinos or Latinas will tell them, “no, you are not a Latino because you are white, you are too light skinned OK.” I tell these kids, you don’t know what you are talking about. Go to Latin America and you will see all types. But we have convinced ourselves that you are a certain type, “oh you don’t look Mexican,” we say to somebody who is blonde. She will say, “well I am Mexican. I lived in Bogota. That is my culture. I am more Latino than you are.” But we say, “Oh you don’t look Mexican,” meaning you are too blonde. LL- We can’t get away from these terms of race. RR- We did get away from them. Richard Nixon invented the Latino, he called them Hispanic. Because blacks were adjudicated in the northern cities in the 1960’s came 42 • October / November 2015

up with this new category. He announced that you could be either black or white. You could also put down Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native or Latino. Richard Nixon’s closest friend in those years was Bebe Rebozo. I think he was a Cuban American. Richard Nixon had grown up in Whittier, California. Migrant workers would come up at the back door of his house at dinnertime and would knock and ask them for food from Mexico and Central America. Richard Nixon remembers this. They were part of his life. He grew up with a sense of the south. He lived two hours from the Mexican border, within an hour of the Asian horizon, the inevitability of China in his life as a Californian was something he understood. He was born with it; he didn’t grow up say as somebody like Bill Clinton in the south, where the majority of the population was white or black. So Richard Nixon invents for various reasons and in complicated ways the Latino, the Hispanic. What the danger of that was is that we become the third race in America. I talk about this in my book how we are allowed to be the new third man in the debate. We sit between white and black but we are not comparable to white and black. We represent “la cultura,” the notion that the identity is coming from culture rather than from blood. In many ways we represent something that is quite different. Now there is all this debate in America whether or not, because this optimism died about Obama, whether or not we are beyond race. Well in fact we are now in a civilization in America where there are millions of people who do not identify themselves as racially black or white, and many of those people are Latinos. If we could only realize our own identity about who we are, what we are, if we could only recognize who we are as people that we represent a new impulse in America to identify ourselves culturally rather than by blood, we could be revolutionary in this country. But nobody asked our opinion about Ferguson, nobody talks to us about race relations on CNN. The black reporters will talk about this, the white reporters on PBS will say “isn’t it a shame that the Republicans have no Hispanics” and the LA Times will talk about Hispanics, the sleeping population giant that one day is going to change everything. Part of the reason nobody talks to us is because we don’t have any reference to their terms of reference. We are not black or white. As we become brainwashed by them, as we make our identity a racial identity rather than a cultural identity, as we say, “oh, being Latino means that you are brown or muy mexicano means that you are light skinned, as we turned this into a racial category, then we destroy ourselves. We make ourselves irrelevant and that is basically what we have done in these last few years. But we have the potential of announcing the end of race in America if we only realize who we were.

This interview willr continue in ou next edition.

A WRITER GOES DEEP DARK DOWN Interview with Héctor Tóbar, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free. Story by Judi Jordan Courtesy photos

In our increasingly oversimplified, multi-


layered, hyper-competitive ‘broad strokes’ media, huge, emotional disaster news is subject to immediate distortion by superficial reports and public saturation quickly suffocates the truth. In a media ‘moment’ when Tweets pass for some people’s idea of news, fewer characters are not always better. Telling the story with heart, soul, eloquence and conscience pays respect both to the subject and the readers when the facets are shared in a truly profound way. When an earthquake hits or a plane crashes, there is an immediate impact [no pun intended] and media ‘closure.’ That was the exact opposite of the tale of the 33 Chilean miners whose lives were forever changed the day the mine said ‘enough’ and closed her portals on the men who had come to pillage her core one time too many. The potent cocktail of personal drama, gross negligence, politics, science, folklore and unshaken faith created a cliffhanger from every angle; the collapse of the San Jose Mine was a ticking bomb that never went off, a disaster with no victims. 43 • October / November 2015

A miracle by any definition, this evolved into a life-changing event for everyone involved. The sheer volume of work demanded a writer who could stand the heat, and the heart, of the fable born. One who would not neglect to also tell the story of the valiant and durable women above ground who kicked and screamed, persisted, and resisted negativity, holding the dream alive. As the 33 men underground formed an unbreakable cable of faith, below ground, it was their instinctive belief that sticking together would get them through. Hector Tobar ‘got’ this; his inner self recognized that this book deserved a writer for whom this would be an honor — and a calling, not a job. In Chile, where the mining industry holds a special place in the country’s spirit, there was no bigger story to be told. A veritable circus gathered at the dusty mine site. The case of the 33 whose fate hung by a thread for 69 days, 2,100 feet underground, grew into a cluster of agendas personal, professional and political. In an unusually collaborative situation, Tobar and the producers worked side by side to get the film and the book made as cohesively and timely as possible. If a writer is fortunate, there is that once-in-a-lifetime story that comes along;

you really don’t. I was afraid of getting lost in the forest of details but I just knew I had to finish quickly, I wrote the book in less than three years; faster than I have ever written a book before. LL: What was your involvement with the film? HT: I was involved with producers from very beginning I was giving them my research and the pages of my book as I was writing them. LL: So your book was optioned? HT: I guess it was. It was all sold by the miners, the rights to the book and the rights to the film. So I conducted many interviews with them side by side. I translated. I would be interviewing and translating for the screenwriter for Jose Rivera, and they paid for my trips to Chile. The producer, Mike Medavoy, is a wonderfully generous man, very loyal to the miners, and wanted to tell their story; I had just written a novel called “The Barbarian Nurseries” I’d written in South America, I was recommended by the agency that represents the miners. LL: So were you ecstatic when you got this? Or were you scared? HT: That’s a great question. I wasn’t really scared, I was excited, because I would be the one to tell the story and I think that when you get an assignment, you always imagine what you might find what


often the writer chases the story, in this case the story chased the writer. The combined experience of Tobar’s New York Times bestseller and the film, which opens November 2015, offer visceral, compatible accounts of the event for those in search of uplifting entertainment. LATINO LEADERS: Did your life change with the writing of this book? HECTOR TOBAR: It changed in a very dramatic way. Writing for a newspaper, longer narratives are very limited. I have now written four books but I don’t think I’ll ever do another story that is quite as rich and epic as this. LL: What were you most afraid of when you started writing? HT: I was afraid of writing something boring. Of overwriting it. I was also afraid that this whole deal with the miners sticking together might fall apart, and I was afraid of missing my deadline. With books you’re supposed to have a deadline, but

44 • October / November 2015

you will be able to tell. And of course, without fail, what you end up finding is more rich and textured and surprising. So I found this and I was very excited and it turned out to be the great journalistic story of my life. LL: Were you daunted by the sheer number of people to interview, of stories to tell? HT: I wasn’t intimidated because my whole job is listening to people tell me stories, and I have found that the humbler the person, the more likely they are to open up to you. I made a whole career of talking to people in Spanish in LA and Latin America, so I was just very excited about it. LL: Did this have a spiritual impact on you? HT: It is always powerful to be in the presence of people who have endured hardship. And that, to me, is the best thing I do, besides being a husband and a dad, is to listen to people and make them feel good about talking to me. That’s the spiritual part. That’s basically the justification for my existence as a professional, is that I can listen

to people and capture the truth of what I’ve been told or what I witnessed. I really am proud of all the moments when I made someone feel that. Also hearing so many wonderful stories about family, faith and love is very spiritual. When someone tells you about a feeling—the things they felt; they had all this time to reflect, 2,000 feet underground. A lot of them talked about the people they let down, or the people who had loved them and they didn’t give enough love back. To be in the presence of all that longing and desire, that’s a very important thing. It’s like taking confession; it’s not in my power to absolve, but they feel catharsis. LL: Was there a conviction that they were saved for a reason? HT: Definitely, many felt that, in fact, the majority — they were saved so that they could be better fathers, saved so that they could speak on behalf of working men. I would say about Mario [Sepulveda] if you were to observe him, he’s found his calling. He’s a leader of men. He has a limited education but he’s an incredibly intelligent man. And incredibly well-spoken and passionate and so he found his calling in the mine. That’s what he now does … he’s a celebrity in Chile, and he’s a spokesman who speaks to the desire of working men for justice and safety.

is sinful — and reflected in the physical attributes of this place; a dark cave with walls that have serrated edges and this incredible heat and humidity that comes from the bowels of the earth — and so it looks like hell! It feels like hell, and there’s evil in some of the actions the men took-stealing food. And then, when the drill breaks through, there’s all this envy. “How come you’re in the newspaper and not me? How come you’re getting rich off this without me?” There were all these evil forces that coursed through the mine. LL: What about the significance of the number 33, Jesus died at age 33, the Free Masons attach significance to that number, do you? HT: Maybe, I hadn’t given it much thought but the first man came out of the mine on the 10th of October — 10 13 10 — that adds up to 33! LL: in the film, we saw Maria Segovia as the feisty leader, how did you see her role? HT: I was talking to many people in Copiapo who mentioned her, she made a very long bus ride to come talk to me from across the desert, it was a tale of extreme poverty, listening to her talk about her family, she represents the power of so many Latina women who believe that they have to fight to defend the dignity of the family. Fighting against the society that treats them as less than human, because they are working class, or poor. She was also very funny and self effacing, just a wonderful person to talk to. It’s these mirror images, these men trapped below and these women on the surface. LL: Above ground, how did Segovia assume leadership to get things done, push them to save the men? HT: She was the one who pitched her tent closest to the gate, so when they came to deliver things, or came to speak to some of the families, she was the one who would handle those inquiries. She didn’t think of it as leadership, she just didn’t want to be passive. She didn’t want to surrender to grief. To her, this was her stance, ‘no, they are alive, and we have to fight for them.’ She rallied people not to surrender. She didn’t see it as authority, but as expressing it as what needed to be done.

LL: There was a Heaven and Hell allegory that plays here how did that unfold for you? HT: For me, faith and heaven are expressions of love, about how love can triumph over the longest odds and faith can triumph over the longest odds and not only on the part of the men underground but also on the part of the rescuers, to believe in these strangers, that they will do absolutely everything they can to get these men out — to me, that’s faith and love. That’s how it was for me … the moment when the drillers found the note [the miners stuck a note on the end of the drill that confirmed survival], and found the men, it was just this incredible joy … something so powerful, that they fell on their knees, their love had proved fruitful, and knowing that they found them. That’s the heaven part. The hell part … well, it’s this place! It’s the creation of greed. Avarice, one of the seven deadly sins. The San Jose mine exists, dug by people in search of gold. To get rich, they take all sorts of risks and chances, and fail to look after their fellow men. In the search of this wealth … to me, that

LL: Mario Sepulveda was more of a conscious leader, correct? HT: Mario Sepulveda was desperate to live and didn’t want to accept the idea that he’s trapped and can’t do anything. The first thing he does is try to climb this shaft to find a way out. It was this ‘I’m not going to surrender,’ and then it was seeing a void in leadership…seeing that men were stealing the food. It was seeing that something needed to be said. So it was ‘I will step forward and say it or else we’re totally screwed.’ So he and a couple of other guys stepped forward, saying ‘we need to organize, we need to ration the food’ because no one else was doing it because the person who should have done this wasn’t taking charge. We are handed circumstances; it’s what we do with them that makes us leaders, or not. LL: Do you believe that these things happen for a reason? HT: [laughing] I believe that we can make reasons for what happens to us. That’s what happened to these 33 guys. They found their faith a way to express their fortitude, and live to return to their families, and being faced with the prospect of being rich, they all stuck together.

A higher pitch Conductor

Eduardo Marturet

takes the Miami Symphony to a superior level. Story by: Valerie Menard Photos: Courtesy of the Miami Symphony Orchestra


tanding above the orchestra, the conductor naturally draws attention and when he taps his baton to start the show, the audience prepares to be swept away on waves of symphonic sound. For the last ten years, Eduardo Marturet has led the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO) to international acclaim. Living his lifelong dream, he admits it wasn’t the destiny his family had in mind. “My whole family were bankers and entrepreneurs; we had a tradition of managing and creating industry, so I was kind of destined to be a businessman,” he shares. “Thank God I was able to become an artist.” What Marturet, 62, humbly describes was really a dynasty. He can trace his family history back to the sixteenth century to his Spanish ancestor, Alonso Andrea de Ledesma, who founded his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela in 1567. His grandfa46 • October / November 2015

ther, Oscar Augusto Machado Hernandez, also made his mark as the founder of C.A. La Electricidad de Caracas, the first company to produce oil-generated electricity in South America. Naturally, Marturet’s parents encouraged their children to pursue careers that would secure a good income, so being an artist was out of the question. He studied science in high school and might have continued, but he opted to move to Cambridge, England after graduating to perfect his English skills. During the nine years of his residency, he became inspired to pursue music, eventually attending East

Anglia University, where he received his degree in piano, percussion, composition and conducting. While it would seem he led a privileged life, Marturet counters that, in fact, it was fairly normal — disciplined but loving. The sixth of eight children, he says he owes much of his confidence, an essential trait for a conductor, to growing up in a large family — he has 45 first cousins on his mother’s side alone. It also prepared him to take charge after his father, Gustavo, passed away when Marturet was only 18. As the new head of the household, he brought his mother, Antonieta, younger brother and sister, Luis and Sylvia, to England. “I had to tackle the family debt and the will for my mother,” he shares. “I used the training in business I had from my father, which is still important today because running an orchestra is like running a business.” He returned to Venezuela in 1979 as the associate conductor with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Caracas. After multiple stints as a guest conductor that produced a Grammy nomination for a recording with the Berlin Symphoniker, he joined MISO in 2006.

“He fell in love with what I did; it was very eclectic,” says Perez. “We opened with Bocelli, then Diego Torres, Barry Gibb, Flo Rida, etc, He was mesmerized about that whole fusion, how you get different generations of audiences enjoying the music. My job at MISO will be to continue what we started at the centennial concert.” While most conductors tend to dictate, Marturet encourages feedback and delegates authority to several captains within the orchestra in a system he calls “horizontal empowerment.” For Luis Gomez-Imbert, principal double bass, the experience has been singular. “Eduardo has always been an inspiration to the members of the orchestra and particularly to me,” he says. “His musical ideas are luscious, exuberant and highly stimulating. He is


His early musical influences included what appealed to most young men at the time, rock and roll, as well as jazz, and Latin rhythms that he says remain important today. While he continues to pay tribute to classical music, Brahms being one of his favorite composers, he also enjoys fusing multiple music genres in each concert as well as his own compositions. His current passion is something he calls “private music” that he creates for individual clients to bring peace and tranquility into their homes. Seeking to build a younger audience for the symphony, Marturet recently appointed producer and composer Rudy Perez as the classical crossover director. The two met during planning for the Miami Beach centennial celebration held earlier this year. Perez, who has worked with a broad spectrum of recording artists, from Beyonce to Julio Iglesias, approached Marturet about utilizing MISO to accompany featured artist Andrea Bocelli.

ABOUT MARTURET • Marturet became the first music director of Teresa Carreño Theatre in Caracas in 1984. •In 1988 he dedicated himself to an international career, conducting in Italy, Greece, France, Spain, England, Denmark, Holland, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Canada and the United States. •In 2006, received a Latin Grammy nomination for “Encantamento” in the category of Best Classical Album conducting the Berliner Symphoniker. •In March 2012 the flag of the United States was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Eduardo Marturet, together with the Medal of Merit of the U.S. Congress in recognition for his outstanding and invaluable service to the community.

a very charismatic conductor with a genuine passion and respect for what he does. His artistic vision for the orchestra and for the city of Miami are of great significance and his perseverance towards excellence is unwavering.” Like any arts organization, funding is always a challenge. MISO currently operates on a $2 million budget, with much of that support coming from state and city sources. But Marturet also diversified the revenue stream with ticket sales and recordings. “As a conductor, the biggest reward is taking it to a higher level,” he says. “The main reason for running an orchestra is to provide the community with quality of life. My reward is the orchestra and structuring a life for the orchestra into the future.” latinoleaders.com

From his early years in Puerto Rico and humble beginnings in the boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx, Francisco Cortés says he has been driven to persevere, to constantly improve. Many also say the vice president of Fox News Latino was meant to lead and succeed. A stint in the Army also helped. Cortés became a “Newyorican” at an early age when his family moved from Puerto Rico to New York City. During his youth, his “Abuelita,” Sofía Soto, would often say, “cuidate, que de los buenos quedamos pocos.” (Which, in Spanish, means “Take care of yourself, of the good men only a few remain.”) Although he grew up in rough neighborhoods, Cortés did well in school, played sports and stayed out of trouble. It was his grandmother who instilled in him his core values: always treat people with kindness; always stand up for the weak; always tell the truth; and always stay humble. In his youth, Cortés aspired to serve his country. Looking forward to the day when he could proudly wear the uniform as his stepfather had done, Cortés enlisted in the Army when he turned 18. In the Army, while recuperating from a tank accident, he was tasked with writing articles for the battalion newspaper. It was

improve and to progress. Cortés’ integrity and work ethic made him a prime candidate for the first class of the Ailes Apprentice Program, which was created by Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes to increase diversity in the executive ranks. During the year-long program, apprentices are matched with senior executives and have unique opportunities to interact and to receive advice and guidance. After Cortés graduated from the program, his career shifted into high gear. He was promoted several times, holding positions such as associate producer, writer and producer, as well as leadership roles with the Fox News Channel graphics department. During his early years at Fox News, he developed good relationships with the CEO and the CFO. One day, Cortés recounts, “I received an email that simply read: ‘are you bilingual?’ I thought, the CFO ‘needs some paperwork translated,’ and when I entered his office and saw no paperwork on his desk, I was a little confused.” It turns out the CFO was asking if he was bilingual because Fox News was going to offer him the chance of a lifetime – the opportunity to develop, implement and run Fox News Latino.

Francisco Cortés Reaching for the stars

and making it one day at a time. Story by Cesirys Espaillat Photos: Courtesy photos

then that Cortés discovered his love of journalism. The good feedback he received from his peers for his ability to capture their stories encouraged him to consider a future in journalism. After returning home to New York City in 1999, Cortés applied with the NYPD and with Fox News. He accepted an offer from Fox News to work as an overnight production assistant, which was “the best position to be in because you’re allowed to make mistakes, which I made a few of as I progressed and learned,” Cortés shared. Within the next couple of years, Cortés earned promotions in production. In these roles he got to experience a more hectic and faster pace of the newsroom, while interacting with writers, producers and executives. While earning promotions, he also earned the nickname “the pushy Puerto Rican,” for his constant drive to learn, to

48 • October / November 2015

After an intense year of work on the business model, team, brand, website and content, on October 10, 2010, Cortés successfully launched one of the nation’s foremost Latino-focused news outlets. Cortés attributes Fox News Latino’s success to incredible support from Ailes and executives, to the great editorial team at Fox News Latino, and to the culture of outstanding leadership of both. When asked for his advice on success, Cortés, reflecting on his youth, military service and his career, responds that appearance and attitude matter— mentorship is incredibly important for those coming up in the business. Cortés further advises to remember to pay it forward once you achieve success and says the critical achievement factors of the Fox News Channel and Fox News Latino are excellence, integrity, teamwork, attitude and loyalty. Clearly, he says his grandmother’s core values, combined with Fox’s culture, have propelled the kid from the boroughs, “the pushy Puerto Rican”, to be one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the American media.

Connecting Leaders, Inspiring the Future

in partnership with L AT INO LE A DE R S

The secret of his success Cesar A. Lostaunau, an operations manager, says that joining Alpfa helped him to grow


esar A. Lostaunau is a strategy and operations manager for Allstate Insurance in Northbrook, Ilinois. He earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management and certifications in project management and business analysis from DePaul University in Chicago. Before taking on his current role, he was an IT project manager in Allstate’s Project Management Office, where he managed complex IT system implementations with diverse cross-functional and technical global teams. Lostaunau is also vice president of the Professional Latino Allstate Network (PLAN) employee resource group. He has been an active member of ALPFA since joining in 2000. “I joined ALPFA primarily because I was seeking professional development,” he said. “Shortly after graduating with an undergraduate business degree, I felt an itch to continuing growing and learning.” Looking for a way to continue that growth, Lostaunau sought out and found ALPFA. In 2007, as the Chicago chapter president of ALPFA, he led his team to generate $130,000 in financial corporate support. He also doubled his chapter’s membership. “I sought a group that would help me continuously grow through activities such as development workshops,” he explained. “Little did I know at the time that ALPFA would provide me with not only transformational professional development, but also countless friends, inspirational mentors, and multiple career growth opportunities.” In 2010, Lostaunau mentored and motivated volunteer chapter leaders in multiple states as one of ALPFA’s National Midwest Regional Directors. He was rewarded for all his service in 2012 when he was presented with the ALPFA National Lifetime Achievement Award. He recently spoke about his success and involvement with ALPFA with Latino Leaders.

What is the secret to your success at ALPFA and how has it helped you in your career or in reaching your goals? My success with ALPFA began when I decided to go all-in with ALPFA. That is, the more engaged I became with ALPFA as a committee or board leader, the more I learned and grew. I used to treat ALPFA like an old weekly magazine subscription that would get delivered to my doorstep regularly, but I never bothered to pick it up. Then, I decided to dust off that old magazine and step up my involvement

Story by Eric Moreno Photo: Courtesy photo

as an ALPFA leader and then the transformation happened. Through that experience, I learned the more energy you put into something, the more success you will have. That attitude has helped me with my ALPFA leadership journey as well as many goals in life.

How would you describe your management style? Being a servant leader allows me to enrich the lives of individuals on my teams, build better organizations, and ultimately create a more just and caring environment for those I serve. As a servant leader, I share knowledge, am mindful of others’ needs and help people develop and perform to their highest potential.

How do you motivate your friends or co-workers or employees? I enjoy motivating my friends, co-workers and teams by fulfilling their true yearnings. For me, it’s about understanding their selfinterest, goals and fears to create an environment where they can be successful.

What advice would you give a recent graduate wanting to enter your field? I consistently encourage mentees and graduates to do anything they want in life with a solid “GPS.” That is, to enter any challenge or career field with a “Growth” (G) mindset, a “Positive” (P) attitude, and a “Servant” (S) attitude. Without a GPS, many go through life without purpose or intent to accomplish their goals. latinoleaders.com



A writer and historian takes a look at headgear and what it means to Latino culture Story by: Charles A. Coulombe

“Recently, among young Americans of all ethnicities, there has been an upswing in demand for hats– and this is particularly true amongst Latinos.”


ats are a huge part of Latino culture. It is not just a matter of a newly returned son bringing his Mexican father a “Tejana” as a sign of respect. Although distinctions have somewhat blurred in recent years, a trained eye can distinguish by the size of the crown and the width of the brim whether a sombrero’s wear is from Zacatecas or Jalisco. In Mariachi and other musical forms, musicians jealously hold onto the headwear heritage of times past. Needless to say, working vaqueros on both sides of the border do so as well. But the transition to urban life in the United States has not lent itself to the preservation of traditional hats– or traditional clothing of any kind. The economic difficulties of many Latino immigrants arriving in a new urban environment made fashion a low priority. Add to that the general collapse of standards of dress in mainstream America since the mid-1960s (a glance at a Madmen episode will show what I mean), and you have a situation where Latinos — and Latino men in particular — are not generally renowned for their fashion sense. Latinas are another matter. They have always looked better in serious hats than men. Felt hats give women an air of attractive mystery (think Agatha Christie in her Cloche hat, eyebrow level, with her striking blue eyes peering from below the brim). Worn appropriately, serious hats confer on Latinas an unsurpassed air of authority and majesty like Lucero, donning a high-crowned Rancher in the aptly titled telenovela, Soy tu dueña (I own you); already in her forties when she sported the Rancher, the soap opera star never looked more stunning. 50 • October / November 2015


This was not always the case with Latinos. In the 1940s, zoot suits became the rage among young Chicanos (thanks to actor Tin-Tan), African-Americans (broad-brimmed hat tip to musician Cab Calloway), Filipinos and Italians. It was and is easy to laugh at their hats and coats, complain about the amount of material used to make them (the reason used for the ban on such wear), or condemn them as subversive – a byproduct of the so-called “Zoot Suit Riots” in 1943 Los Angeles. But, introduced by jazz musicians as they were, Zoot suits represented a longing for style and elegance on the part of those on the margins of American society – a society that in those days prided itself on those very qualities, and above all required men to wear hats. Be they panamas, homburgs, or the then everpresent fedoras, few men appeared without them, regardless of race, creed, or color. In Mexico, this look was epitomized by the notorious film-noir actor, Juan Orol – who, at least in terms of hats – was comparable to Humphrey Bogart or Alan Ladd. That changed with President John F. Kennedy, who is often credited with single-handedly killing the wearing of men’s hats (although he was the last president to wear a top hat to his inauguration). Within five years of his death, the wearing of jackets


and ties (other than in increasingly fewer work or social situations) waned, as did that of dresses and skirts by women some time later. Today most people wear what earlier generations would have called play or work clothes all the time. Perhaps they make up in comfort what they lack in elegance; but unless an individual is well-built, they do not flatter. Mexico remains a bit more conservative. In addition to the continuing relevance of the sombrero, Mexicans in office situations still tend to dress more formally than their northern counterparts. Recently, among young Americans of all ethnicities, there has been an upswing in demand for hats– and this is particularly true amongst Latinos. One particularly knowledgeable witness on the hat scene is Victor Cornejo, whose career was examined in last month’s issue. Having got his start in the hat business with the LUCERO, IN A PROMOTIONAL PHOTO FOR THE TELENOVELA, SOY TU DUEÑA, WHERE SHE SPORTS A RANCHER HAT. Stetson Hat Company, and making his name with them by designing cowboy hats designed especially for Latinos, he has branched out. Learning what appeals in dress hats – in terms of material, color, design, and so forth – to Afrithen it is in shop windows. Right now, in addition can-Americans, Anglos, and various other communities, he is spectacularly wellto our usual lines, we are providing hats for fashion placed to discern what is happening in this sphere. houses, department stores, film companies, and on “Among Latinos, wearing fedoras and other dress hats is not a question of heritage. and on. But fashions change.” That is maintained by those who still wear the different varieties of cowboy hats. It Maybe so, but as a lifelong fedora wearer, I hope is purely a question of fashion. More and more younger people are wearing them.” this one sticks around a while. Is this a permanent development? Charles A. Coulombe is a Los Angeles-based writer and a Historian. He “Fashion is like a wave. It comes in and goes out, and in my career I have certainly seen times when hats were more popular than others. People see a given is the author of several books, including “The Pope’s Legion: A history of the Papal Zouaves.” He is also a lifelong fedora wearer. fashion in movies and television, it is picked up by designers and magazines, and latinoleaders.com





Most Influential Latinos in the Arts, Media and Culture

Most demographic projections say Latinos will make up 30% of the U.S. population by 2050. But representing audiences and depicting Latino culture does not mean artists have become change-makers or decisionmakers. This list is full of groundbreaking artist-activists. Latino Leaders consulted industry experts and observers to discern the 15 most influential Latino artists in the U.S. They represent a diverse spectrum of roles, from actor to executive, from writer to icon. The criteria used to determine the most influential Latino artists are: national recognition, advancement in their field and philanthropic impact. Story by: Laura Reagan-Porras Photos: Courtesy photos *The list is presented in alphabetical order by last name.



Grammy-winning Musician, Producer, Philanthropist

Writer of The House On Mango Street

Anthony is an actor, singer, record producer, and television producer. He is the top-selling tropical salsa artist of all time. He is a twotime Grammy winner and five time Latin Grammy winner. He was the recipient of the 2009 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Chair’s Award. Anthony has been a long-time advocate for children in poverty throughout Latin America, working through the Maestro Cares Foundation.

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Cisneros rose to prominence with a coming-ofage novel that has been called an avant-garde masterpiece. The relatable central character, Esperanza Cordero, is a young girl from a poor Latino neighborhood in Chicago. The book uses vignettes, poems and everyday observations. Her newest book, A House of My Own is due for release this month. She is the founder of two organizations that serve writers, the Macondo Foundation (now administered by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center) and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. Sandra is also the founder of the Latino MacArthur Fellows (Los MacArturos).

GLORIA ESTEFAN Grammy Award Winner, Singer, Writer and NFL Franchise Part-Owner

Estefan is one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, with an estimated 100 million records sold worldwide, including 31.5 million in the United States alone. She is the most successful crossover to date. She has won seven Grammys and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Estefan was also awarded the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest award that can be given to a naturalized U.S. citizen. She has written two children’s books and together with her husband owns a minor interest in the NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, becoming the first Latino NFL owners.

SALMA HAYEK Academy AwardNominated Actress, Director, Producer, Feminist and Child Activist

Hayek was a widely known actress in Mexico and rose to be a film star, director and producer in the U.S. She earned the Academy Award nomination for her amazing portrayal in Frida. She has produced the hit television series Ugly Betty. Whether choosing acting roles or other creative projects, Hayek gravitates to edgy characters and projects that ultimately empower women. The Salma Hayek Foundation, which previously supported organizations giving aid to and raising awareness for battered women, has now branched out to work with disadvantaged children on the streets of Mexico, helping them overcome problems such as drugs, violence or lack of education.

DOLORES HUERTA Cultural Icon and Activist

Huerta has worked to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination. She created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960 and co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers (UFW). At 85 years old, she continues to live a life of poetry in motion. Her iconic existence continues to serve as artistic inspiration for many. The Dolores Huerta Foundation resumes Huerta’s work by creating networks of healthy, organized communities pursuing justice through systemic and structural transformation. The foundation conducts voter registration campaigns, community organizing training and much more.

EVA LONGORIA Actor, Producer and Education Activist

The well-educated, Masters-degreed actress and producer first came to national consciousness through her role on the hit television show Desperate Housewives. She is co-executive producer of Devious Maids. Among her many television and film accomplishments, Longoria co-founded a San Antonio-based non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual special needs by providing an inclusive setting built on four tenets of interact, grow, learn and love.


JENNIFER LÓPEZ Actress, Musician, Producer, CEO of NUVOtv and Youth Development Philanthropist

J.Lo’s impact spans every conceivable aspect of media and entertainment. She is in front of and behind the camera as well as the boardroom. Her production company, Nuyorican Productions, is responsible for the film The Boy Next Door, ABC Family’s groundbreaking drama The Fosters and NBC’s 2015 cop drama Shades of Blue, which has nabbed a straightto-series order from the network. López is a Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame member and supports youth development philanthropy.

RICKY MARTIN Singer, Actor, Writer and Children’s Advocate and Philanthropist

Puerto Rican-born Ricky Martin has had tremendous success as a crossover artist, whose Grammy performance in 1999 is credited for being a catalyst for the mainstream acceptance of Latin Pop. “Living La Vida Loca” is one of the best- selling singles of all time. He has written an autobiography that rose to the New York Times Best Seller List and has written two children’s books. He has a foundation in his name that provides opportunities, including a summer camp to lowincome children. He has worked with Habitat for Humanity and UNICEF during disaster relief efforts.

Award-winning broadcast journalist, news anchor, documentarian, executive producer, education advocate and philanthropist

O’Brien won the Peabody award for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. She has served as a broadcast journalist on CNN and HBO, and now heads her own company, Starfish Media Group. As the daughter of educators and mother of a special needs child with special educational needs, O’Brien knows the importance of education. Her Starfish Foundation’s initiative mentors young impoverished women, particularly women of color, through college and beyond.


EDWARD JAMES OLMOS First American-Born Latino Academy Award-Nominated Actor, Screenwriter and Director, youth and education activist

The Los Angeles-born Edward James Olmos is an Academy Award-nominated actor for his role in Stand and Deliver. His notable roles are American Me, Miami Vice and most recently as Captain Adama in Battlestar Galactica. Olmos is a former UNICEF ambassador, Boys & Girls Club of America Hall of Fame member and Hispanic Scholarship Fund supporter. He is a frequent speaker and advocate for youth, using his own disadvantaged background as an example. He says, “If I made it, you can make it.” His calm activism during the Los Angeles riots will long be remembered during the Los Angeles Riots.

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ Writer, director, producer and founder of El Rey Network

Rodriguez became known as a low budget independent filmmaker. His groundbreaking film El Mariachi (part of the Mexico trilogy that includes Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico), was made for a mere $7,000. Other film credits include Sin City, Sin City 2 and Machete. He developed and popularized a new filming style called, the “one-man film crew,” which has become known as “Mariachi-style.” Most recently he launched his own English-language crossover cable TV network, El Rey, with a $72 million investment from Univision.

CARLOS SANTANA Grammy Award-Winning Musician, Songwriter, Children’s Philanthropy

Santana is a world-class guitarist and musician who pioneered the fusion of rock and Latin American sounds. In 2003, Rolling Stone has named him the 15th greatest guitar player of all time on their top 100 guitarists list. Santana has 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. He and the band were dubbed a Woodstock success and offered a record deal thereafter. Today, Santana is noted for musical collaborations and continues to explore multiple music genres. Santana does philanthropy work through his foundation, the Milagro Foundation, which helps underserved and vulnerable children around the world by providing opportunities in education, health and the arts.


Born in San Francisco, Serra has been called the most influential sculptor of the late 20th century and early 21st century. Art critics have categorized him as a minimalist who challenges the eye through abstraction. As a minimalist sculptor and video artist, he is known for working with large-scale assemblies of sheet metal. His work is placed all over the world. In the U.S., his creations are installed in the Olympic Village in Seattle and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., among others. Serra participates with art education groups, the Broad Art Foundation and the Dia Art Foundation.

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NINA TASSLER Chairman, CBS Entertainment

Tassler, of Puerto Rican descent, is a decisionmaker indeed as a Latina at the helm of the No. 1 network. She became CBS’ chairperson in 2004 and presided over the comparatively drama-free late-night shift changes while filling a full summer slate of programming and expanding other limited series. She has guided the series CSI to multiple spinoffs. In September 2015 she announced that she will be stepping down as chief at the end of the year and cited a desire to pursue other creative opportunities as the reason for her departure. She has a book due for release in April 2016 titled What I Tell My Daughter.

BENICIO DEL TORO Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award Winning Actor and Film Producer

Del Toro won the Academy Award for his role in the film Traffic. He is only the third Puerto Rican to win the Academy Award. Other film credits include Snatch, Sin City, Che and Guardians of the Galaxy. He will also appear in the new Star Wars movie. Del Toro became the spokesman of the educational campaign, “Yo Limpio a Puerto Rico,” an environmental organization that creates awareness and mobilizes the Puerto Rican community to recycle and protect the environment.


TENDER BUT TOUGH The unstoppable Patricia Riggen Story by: Judi Jordan Photos: Ejen Chuang


56 • October / November 2015

Luna have garnered awards, and Riggen’s natural modesty and gentle humor are tempered with pride in her achievement and a hyper-awareness of expectations. Riggen is a realist who would love to be free to dream again, and to create, but the hard-ball politics and rough business of being a female director robs her of the spontaneity and the freedom she thrives on. It’s a trade off.




HE’S A LOVER AND A FIGHTER. Guadalajaran director Patricia Riggen comes out swinging with her extraordinary 5th film, The 33. The highly anticipated action/drama movie tells the true story of the 33 miners who were trapped in August 2010 for 69 days in the San José Mine in the Atacama Desert, 28 miles north of Copiapo, Chile. Veteran producer Mike Medavoy had secured the story rights for his Phoenix Pictures and was looking for a director who could tell the layered, emotional story. After a long meeting where Patricia presented her take on the story, and how she would shoot it, the miners’ version was entrusted to Riggen. For the next three years, she guarded the project with her customary passion, integrity and will of iron, shepherding the script through numerous drafts and several sets of hands, including Patricia’s own. It was by no means a smooth path for the award-winning director. She met “resistance at every step of the way” and credits much of the pushback as a result of her being a woman in the overwhelmingly male-dominant career as a director. She’s no ‘newbie.’ Riggen, 45, has been working at her craft since 1997. Her five feature films include Under the Same Moon (2007, independent film) Revolución (2010, feature film a collaboration with 9 directors) Lemonade Mouth (2011, TV film) Girl in Progress (2012, feature film) The 33 (2015, feature film) and Miracles from Heaven (2016, feature film). Certainly, at 25 million, this was the largest budget she’s worked with, but for the size of the project and the caliber of the cast, it was a challenge. The 33 chronicles dual struggles; the one above ground of the men’s families hoping to see them rescued, and the grueling miracle of the 33 Chilean miners’ survival 2,100 feet below the earth. The collapse of the San José Mine kept the world in suspense for 69 days, but Riggen’s quest lasted three years. A highly challenging ordeal that tested her endurance at every step of the way, Riggen’s massive commitment took her to hell and back. This straight shooter speaks her mind and sticks to her artistic principles with conviction, and she doesn’t take the easy road when the hard road makes a better film. Riggen is a grateful realist. She has accomplished a feat of filmmaking that few directors, female or male, can lay claim to. Her movie opens ‘wide’ across America, on 2,500 screens November 13th, and she is energized but calm. Her sweet face is alight with accomplishment, but wary of what lies around the corner. “I’m always prepared.” Representing part of the 1% of all directors working in Hollywood as a Latin female, she’s no novice. Her previous films like


Every step of the process has been challenging, but Riggen is both grateful for her situation, full of humor, and outspoken about the obstacles she faces as a woman in an obstinately, overwhelmingly male profession. Frustrated by a lack of fairness in industry hiring practices, which leads to a lack of opportunities for all Latinas behind the camera, Riggen hopes to be an agent of change as her work is seen, and her words are heard. She’s encouraged by the recent activity in Hollywood among women directors to hold the studios accountable for fair hiring practices, but until things change, she keeps her eyes open for projects that are worth fighting for. With the star-packed cast of The 33 and her next film, Miracles from Heaven, which stars Jennifer Garner, Riggen has suddenly become an A-List director without the inflated ego. The winding path of destiny [and the 405 freeway] led Latino Leaders to Patricia Riggen’s Los Angeles Hills home to talk as she gears up for the final stretch of her long journey with The 33.


Mining for movie gold

When Mike Medavoy, the iconic former studio head and producer of Oscar-garnering films –with over 300 screen credits – brought his pet project, “The 33,” to award-winning director Patricia Riggen, it was with conviction that she would bring the complex story to life, with the heartfelt attention it deserved [Please see adjacent story]. He was not wrong. But it was by no means easy. When Medavoy and Riggen describe the film as ‘difficult’ to make, there is no question of the veracity of their claim. It is, in fact, a polite understatement. Watching the film is a staggering experience, made more daunting by the details of the shoot itself. They could not shoot in Chilean mines, and had to scout mines in Colombia. Always hands-on, Patricia did not delegate, going along on the scouting missions. And when it came to shooting, knowing that she would not be able to go back for re-shoots, she took precautions with ample takes. “I gave myself plenty of options for editing.”

No prisoners, no risks

Riggen wore a white miner’s hat every day in the 100-degree heat and when the rock did fall on her head, it bounced off the plastic, not the director’s skull. This brought Patricia closer than she ever dreamed - or desired - possible to the experience of the Chilean miners, whose arduous 69-day entrapment 2,100 feet below ground and miraculous rescue captivated the world. She was committed to faithfully recreate the story for movie audiences. The complex human and environmental logistics, and demanding emotional tenor of the story, combined with the public’s general familiarity with the account, added pressure to the already high expectations for the 5-foot-3 Riggen. This was not her first rodeo, but it was her biggest. She brought her customary good cheer and signature tenacity to the project. With 10 big-name stars ‘above ground’ and 10 stars below, plus hundreds of extras and cameo guest stars, it was a non-stop circus, a juggling act, a true test of - and testament to - her skill as a director. The film, with its diverse, high-wattage international star power, including Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, Kate de Castillio, Adriana Barraza, Naomi Scott, Bob Gunton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jacob Vargas, Oscar Nunez, Cote de Pablo, Mario Casas, Gabriel Byrne, James Brolin, Federico Luppi, Anderson Cooper, Don Francisco, Leonardo Farkas, Tenoch Huerta and others, was shot in Chile and Colombia on 80 sets over 60 days. By Hollywood studio standards, the film was modestly budgeted at $25 million. Still, even with all of the free publicity from the true event, and the intense interest in the 33 miners’ colorful personalities and family details, it was challenging to get distribution.


5-foot-3 and Latina in a man’s world

On-set directors’ chairs are high. You have to climb up to sit down. Whether deliberate or just ‘made that way’,’ they place the ‘top dog’ on set in an elevated position. With the name stenciled on the back, even on the lowest-budget set, the director has her designated chair and nobody, but nobody except the director sits there. On the first day of shooting The 33, a rock promptly dropped on her head. Riggen was inside the mine in Colombia, sitting on her ‘jefe’ seat. Wearing the obligatory miner’s hat, Riggen escaped injury, but she speculated briefly if it might be a sign. It would be indeed ironic if all 33 miners escaped unscratched after 69 days, only to have the film crew injured within minutes of the first day on set. She’s laughing about it now, but the thought of accidents on set is very real, and with long days in hellishly hot mines, safety is an unquestionable and ever-present priority. An unexpected fire blew though the mine during their preparation, the ‘disaster within the disaster movie’ was handled with professional speed and supervision. Always one to look on the bright side while keeping her perspective, Riggen creatively repurposed the lack of comfort. “It made me stronger. I feel like I can do anything now. I am what some people might call tough; I never back down, I’m always prepared,” Riggen laughs. “I’m only 5-foot-3 and brown, but that doesn’t make me not speak out! I always try to assert my authority because if you don’t, they will take it away.” latinoleaders.com

She is not afraid to assert her power. “I call the shots—literally. I’m always fighting to get my ideas through. It’s tiring to always be defending something, but directors must make a million decisions every day, small and large, based on experience or your gut. People have to trust that.” Patricia is warm, funny and relaxed between films, and it’s hard to imagine her as a tyrant, but she is a ‘burnt child’. Power plays with individuals trying to undermine her [no pun intended] have forced Riggen into a warrior’s stance, a sustained state of preparedness.

portant thing is to protect the movie. If anyone tries jeopardizing the quality of the movie, I won’t let it happen. I’m very protective of the movie, like a child.” Protecting her baby was one of the myriad things Riggen had on her mind as she sat in that tall chair every day. Other things weighed heavily as well – distribution, for one thing. “Everyone kept talking about how difficult this movie was.” Despite the incredible global knowledge and enormous interest in the 33 miner’s stories, it was tough for even the seasoned producers to get the financing and the guarantee of the wide release the film — and the budget — warranted. The distribution was ultimately split between Fox for Mexico and Latin America, and Warner Bros., which took on distribution for the rest of the world. The production budget of $25 million, low for a studio picture, but high for an ‘indie’ movie, drove up the pressure. The producers got their money’s worth; the 60day shoot encompassed 80 different sets and involved building a village in the desert, 15 minutes away from the actual San José Mine, a half-mile wide by three miles long, replicating the actual ‘camp’ that grew over the weeks beside the mine as the spectacle grew.

Nobody said life was fair


She acknowledges this as temporary, until her reputation is ‘sealed.’ That is the long-term annuity that her arduous work on The 33 may manifest. “All that hardship helped us to understand what the miners went through.” Any director who can deliver a fine film under those conditions deserves the respect of Hollywood. It may allow Riggen to take off the gloves. Riggen hungers for the luxury of being the sweet, creative filmmaker she was at the start of her career. “Later, I want to go back to my true personality. I wasn’t raised to be mean!” Riggen reflects, smiling. “I don’t think I’ve ever abused anyone. The most im58 • October / November 2015

Compare this with $22 million budget of recent Oscar winner “Birdman” — by fellow Mexicano, Alejandro G. Iñárritu who shot in a theater, and with Steadicam on the streets of New York City — and you begin to get a sense of the ‘ginormous’ risk taken on by Riggen, and the producer’s confidence in her to deliver a film that tells the above- and below-ground story of the miners and their loved ones. Riggen: “We were shooting in an alien environment. All kinds of things could and did happen.” The unseen pressure was, of course, gender-driven. Riggen can’t afford to screw up. With so few women hired to direct feature films, Hollywood is looking for any excuse not to hire women, especially to helm bigger budgeted films. While TV offers more opportunities for women directors, the numbers are still infinitesimal compared to the men. Being a female director, complaining, showing any weakness or doubt is out of the question. “I suffer as a woman director; everyone questions my decisions,” she says. “I still feel like a young director, even though I have made five movies in eight years.” Riggen looks younger than her 45 years; her wide-eyed gaze and huge smile steal 10 years from her age, even after the constant ordeals of production. “Women have to be twice as tough and willing to stand their ground; it’s not fun, but it is necessary. I hope it will get easier with time,” Riggen says, admitting, “I don’t think of myself as successful yet.”


Women directors have been known to bring a protective maternal element to projects and to the set. Riggen is no exception. She’s a mom to 8-year old Francesca and compares movie making to motherhood. “I protect my movies, and I fight for them. My movies are like my children.”

Riggen is married to her work, literally. Her soft-spoken, deferential Peruvianborn husband, Checco Varese, is a gifted, in-demand cinematographer. In addition to his own successful career, Varese has shot all of Riggen’s films. He has Patricia’s back, literally, and they have mastered the fine art of respectful, professional collaboration. Checco; “If we’re on set and someone asks me to do something, or make a change in a shot, I always tell them, ‘I have to ask the director’… and sometimes they’ll look at me and say “But?” It’s painfully obvious that some people will assume that the silver-haired Varese is in charge. He shakes his head at this blatant misconception. “I look at them and say, on set, she is not my wife, she is the director. The chain of command is very clear.” For Riggen the knowledge that she has the full support of the entire production crew on set, and off, is imperative. If not, she does not hesitate to hand out walking papers. Riggen: “On The 33, I had to replace production designers twice … and ADs [assistant directors].” A physically grueling shoot like The 33, working 14hour days, in a dark mine nearly a mile underground, in temperatures reaching 100 degrees tests everyone’s stamina. There is no room for politics, drama or disrespect. The physical danger alone requires everyone to be on the same page. The technical part was predictably challenging, but even the basic things were challenging. Generators that lacked enough juice … you name it, there was a problem. Things you take for granted in the U.S. But shooting in deep salt mines required two and a half miles of cable. Varese shakes his head at the memory. “There wasn’t enough cable in the country, and it had to be imported. We had generators supplying 15,000 kilowatts, it was like lighting a small village.”

The audience is king

The age-old tussle over ‘final cut’ is alive and well. For the uninitiated, this is a contractual perk, giving the director the last word on the version of the movie to be released.


She’s the Boss, he’s the man

For studio movies this is generally reserved for a chosen few directors mostly whose last names are unnecessary — Marty, Steven, Ridley … you get the picture. Even without this formality, Riggen hangs on to her movies, “Staying all the way through to the end.” She uses the best tool of conviction, to attain and retain her cut of the film: audience reaction. She tests and tests and tests. While many directors disdain the testing process, she embraces it. “I believe in the audience. I will screen a movie for people I can trust, friends who will be tough with me, even before it goes to the producers.” This gives Riggen the confidence to fight for her cut. “The producers were very skeptical, but I told them, trust me, it’s working. The director’s version tested 93%.” The hallmark of a Riggen film is the Kleenex factor. Patricia Riggen makes emotionally satisfying tear-jerkers. Her movies touch audiences at the core, although she likes her films to have upbeat endings. “I like tears of joy, not tears of sadness.”

A pope’s blessing

Patricia asked Warner Bros. to get Pope Francis a copy of the film. They did, and as tends to transpire in the presence of his Holiness, something wonderful happened. Papa Francis enjoyed The 33 and invited the miners and their director to Rome. Riggen smiles with contentment. “He shook the hands of every miner and thanked them for bringing hope to the world.”

Riggen, on her stars

Riggen depended on her movie stars to work under rough conditions; they did not let her down. Her quick comments: “Antonio Banderas was ideal for this role; his own personality is very much like the lead miner, Mario Sepulveda. He became the leader of the miners.” “Juliette Binoche was fabulous, strong, but respectful, a great collaborator.” “Rodrigo Santoro is such a sweetheart, such a hard worker and a total perfectionist.”

Lastly, what’s with the name?

In case you were wondering, Riggen’s great grandfather, William Henry Riggen was American. “My ancestors were American on my father’s side; I learned that he was a doctor who migrated to Mexico during the Civil War, I grew up in Mexico, and now, I’m back here! We were ‘found’, by American cousins that were looking for their ancestor, and now, I have this whole American family. It’s funny.” latinoleaders.com



Ricky’s renaissance

The superstar finds a new life in La Banda, along with Alejandro Sanz and Laura Pausini Story by: Judi


Jordan | Photos by: Courtesy of Univision


ICKY MARTIN’S massive 32-year musical career has been an auspicious series of ‘waves’; building success upon success, with well-timed breaks to parent, travel, write an autobiography, and do humanitarian work with his Ricky Martin Foundation. After launching the Latin pop crossover ‘wave’ in ’99, and setting sales records with his monster single CD Livin’ La Vida Loca [8 million copies sold], and album Ricky Martin [22 million copies sold], he went on to release seven more albums, including 2015’s #1 Latin Billboard and Latin American Music Award-winning album, A quien quiera escuchar. Ricky’s successful Broadway run of “Evita” was followed by a stint on “Glee” as the Spanish teacher, and a quiet time as he settled down to raise his twin boys, Valentino and Matteo. He was livin’ la vida tranquilo, it seemed. Things began to take a new turn as he took on high-profile TV gigs coaching singers for The Voice Australia, and The Voice Mexico. A call from American Idol’s tough judge Simon Cowell brought on the next big wave with an idea for a talent show that would discover the next great boy band a la Latino. Ricky would star, executive produce it and even manage the winners’ band. Univision jumped on board and “La Banda” was born. The show launches live Nov 1, 2015 in Miami, and the details are what make it unique; an intimate panel of three supportive superstar judges, Alejandro Sanz, Laura Pausini and El Martin; a runway-like stage; and a large, live, all-girl audience with voting power, with results that show up on a massive screen, via a smart-phone pre-screening popularity contest. To move on to the next step, contestants need a score of 75% or higher; the results are instantaneous. The bonus for the band members is being managed by Ricky himself. Having come up in the boy band world, Martin knows the pitfalls and dangers for boys on the road. As a devoted dad, he’s embraced the nurturing like a natural. “I’m not a ‘tough-love’ judge, I don’t believe in tearing down talent.” In a protective and experienced role as mentor-manager, he will oversee the band’s career. Some lucky kids are going to have the chance of a lifetime, discovered by La Banda, and coached by the original crossover king of Latin pop. LATINO LEADERS: What is going to be different about this band? RICKY MARTIN: This band is going to be based on every kid to be able to determine their own identity. When I started out with Menudo, thirty some years ago, we had no say. We were told exactly what to do, who to be, how to act. Audiences now want an artist comfortable with their own identity. This will be the ultimate boy band, of adolescents from 12 to 20, of unique, talented young artists. LL: There are so many competition shows. Why do you think this will succeed? RM: The concept is new. It has never been seen before. And while there are plenty of shows for the American audience, there’s a gap for the Latin American market. And it’s different. The audience is asking for transparency. We invited 700 girls. The audience watches this runway and the contestant has one minute to convince them how to vote, yes or no, for them to walk away or continue down the runway to sing for the judges. And there is so much talent. We had 10,000 kids show up to audition. We could put together three bands from all the talent we found. LL: Is your managing the band a musical extension of the outreach you do with your youth foundation, being more helpful, more connected, more protective? RM: It came at the right moment in my life. My being the manager comes from wanting these kids to have a long career. I can contribute towards

62 • October - November 2015

The judges of La Banda from left to right: Alejandro Sanz, Laura Pausini and Ricky Martin.

The judges of La Banda at work. From left to right: Alejandro Sanz, Laura Pausini and Ricky Martin.

the longevity of this band. If I can provide that guidance, that’s my role. It feels right … it’s a generation of artists so hungry for information, for feedback. These kids have that distinction and helping them turn their music into art is a joy. Look, it is very hard for new artists to break through and stay there. I’ve been wanting to manage artists for a long time, but it didn’t come together. I always said it will come organically, it will come to me. And that’s what’s happened. In terms of management, I will be available to them when it comes to the emotional process. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’m just as insecure. I doubt myself, I doubt my decisions. That is something that we musicians have to deal with and accept. That’s why we go onstage. We need the reassurance from others. If I can help young musicians feel strong in their choices, that’s valuable.


Atlanta, Georgia

Reagan-Porras | Photos by: Courtesy of CTCA




he grew up in Argentina alongside her father, enthralled by his passion to serve in the country’s volunteer health campaign to give children’s vaccines. By age 15 she was part of the campaign herself, placing the polio vaccine on sugar cubes for children. It was then that she decided to be a doctor. Fueled by the desire to help others, it was only natural that young Patricia Thompson would go to medical school after her family moved to the United States and she learned English. She excelled there. As a medical student, she was assigned to follow a cancer patient. Patricia took the patient’s medical history and tracked the details extensively. She spoke to her in depth and they became very close. Dr. Thompson recalls this special patient telling her that no one touched her because she had cancer as if they thought she was contagious. When the rotation was over, Dr. Thompson, then a medical intern, would greet this special patient with a hug every time she was re-admitted to the hospital. Dr. Thompson knew then that oncology would be her calling. “My patient’s personal journey through her cancer and the way it affected those around her really impacted me to serve the whole patient,” said Dr. Thompson. Today, Dr. Thompson greets her patients with hugs and empathetically listens to them, not only about their symptoms and treatment regimens, but about their lives. The attention to the whole person and the multidisciplinary model created for Dr. Thompson a perfect platform to serve patients holistically at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in the metro Atlanta area. She is the Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology at CTCA®. Latinos now comprise 17% of the U.S. population. There are 126,000 cancer patients diagnosed each year, and approximately 38,000 to 40,000 of those are Latino, according to Thompson. Dr. Thompson is also an accomplished researcher, having conducted research in more than five clinical trials and published on the subject of metastatic renal cancer in the prestigious Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. She explained that the field is making amazing strides in cancer care because of new drugs and treatments. Research is allowing doctors to individualize cancer treatment according to type and severity. “As we individualize treatment, we hope to see a 70%+ response rate,” Dr. Thompson says. Dr. Thompson is board-certified in internal medicine, with a subspecialty in medical oncology. She earned a medical degree from the University of Miami, where she received several awards, including Outstanding Medical Student of the Year 2000 for Excellence in Internal Medicine.


Lung cancer is the third most frequent cancer behind breast and prostate cancer among Latinos; however lung cancer is ranked first in the mortality rate of Hispanic male cancer patients. Smoking is behind 85% of lung cancers, most of which are eventually fatal. Dr. Thompson emphasizes the imperative to educate the Latino population on two things: 1.) The cancer risk of smoking. 2.) The need to seek medical attention for any lung or breathingrelated symptom immediately since early detection is the best weapon against lung cancer.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, where she graduated cum laude. She completed a fellowship in hematology-oncology at the University of South Florida, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa and a residency in internal medicine at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. In 2005, she received the Foundation Merit Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She is also the newest member of the American Lung Association’s national medical expert advisory board. “I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. Caring for people has always been my true calling,” Dr. Thompson says.

For more information visit www.cancercenter.com






New Wave of Chicago Leaders C hicago is known for many things, architecture, deep-dish pizza, iconic sports personalities, their politics and pride. Chicago is very different than other Latino cities we have visited, where in most other places city-pride might play a supporting role to the conversation, in Chicago, it is the main attraction, front and center. We chose to play along with the local folklore and host our dinner at a speakeasy, the feel was mysterious, classic, with some old world charm. It was a perfect evening in July, as we welcomed the leaders. Everyone had a chance to mix and mingle before the dinner began, they all represented different backgrounds, from civic, financial, political, corporate; most of them seemed to have work together at least once before, which gave the night a great feel of unity. Dinner began, and as each leader shared their story of success there was a clear thread of conversation that revolved around mentorship, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you stood on they all had a mentor, or two, to thank in helping them get to the next level. Now as part of those rising in positions of power, most of the leaders agreed there is more they must do

in order to create effective change for Chicago, as one leader stated “we have to go a step BEYOND mentorship, what are we doing to get more Latino leaders opportunities to move into big positions of power?” The leaders expressed that there is a fundamental disconnect between those who are currently sitting in power and the voice of many. The conversation continued and took a heated turn when the topic of gentrification came up. Some that may not have deep ties to those areas in questions, might see gentrification as a natural part of evolving cities; the solution, to make sure Latinos sit on the boards of those decision making entities. For others, that did grow up in neighborhoods, like Pilsen, which are now being taken over by condos and mass commercialism, making it impossible for residents to stay afloat with the rent increase and having to move out of the place they have called home their entire life; for this group, the solution is more complex because this is not simply a matter of moving, but these neighborhoods are piece of their lifeline, an extension of their heart, where identities are rooted, those ties cannot be severed, how can you put a price on that? It was evident that there needed to be an entire night dedicated solely to this topic. As the evening wrapped, we shifted focus to politics, everyone was very polished and respectful; there was an unspoken code in the room, and whether or not you agreed with current people in office remained unclear. However, what was clear, was that amongst this group, there were truly some passionate leaders, we have no doubt that in the decade that follows you will hear these names more frequently, amongst them are future Senators, members of Congress, possibly the first Latino/a Mayor? We have great hopes for this group of trailblazers that will lead Chicago.

Maria Vargas Senior Credit Analyst | AT & T

Maria Vargas began her career with AT&T in 2001, recently becoming a Senior Credit Analyst. While at AT&T, Maria has continued her college education, obtaining an Associate’s in Business Administration and is currently completing her Bachelor’s. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Maria migrated to the United State at the age of six. Growing up with minimal contact with her mother due to long factory hours she rapidly realized the importance of hard work and dedication. Raised on the Northside of Chicago, she is proud to support her Hispanic roots by contributing to Annual Back-Pack and Toy Drives. Since 2014, Maria began serving on the HACEMOS board as VP of Operations, and subsequently took on the role of President for the Chicago Chapter. A Bronze President’s Service Volunteer Award recipient; she is dedicated to giving back to the community, awarding $30,000 in scholarships to 12 Chicago area Hispanic High School students, leading and organizing HACEMOS High Tech Day which promotes STEM related fields for students in high risk and low income areas. Today as a single mother of three, Maria has been able to overcome multiple obstacles, thriving on the importance that education is the key to success and lives by the motto, “Juntos HACEMOS Mas.” 64 • October-November 2015

Alberta Johnson | Senior Consultant Human Capital Experts Alberta Johnson is a strong advocate for diversity and recognizes the need for inclusion and equality. She serves as a consultant to senior executives in the corporate and private sectors in the areas of policy development, diversity & inclusion, compliance, branding and strategic planning. She most recently served as National Diversity Manger for Schiff Hardin LLP after leaving the City of Chicago after 10 years. The highlights of her career include, serving Diversity & EEO Officer for the Office of Compliance where she managed the Diversity and EEO Plan and served as advisor of the first on-line certification system for the MBE/WBE Program, as Director of Neighborhood Housing for the Department of Housing, and for the Commission on Human Relations with the Mayor’s Advisory Councils. Alberta served as EEO Officer & Secretary for the Executive Diversity Committee for the City of Chicago. Johnson also serves on the board of directors for Chicago International Charter Schools, and the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology, her Master’s in Business Administration from Roosevelt University and her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Baldemar Lopez|Co-Founder Barragan & Lopez, LLC Baldemar has over a decade of government experience, from his time at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to his time in the Governor Pat Quinn’s office as an Assistant Chief of Staff of Legislative Affairs, responsible for representing the Governor’s legislative interests in the Illinois General Assembly; also including work with Legislative Counsel and Director of Policy at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Baldemar assisted Central Management Services, Department of Labor, Illinois Employment Security, Workers’ Compensation Commission, Labor Relations Board, Department of Human Rights, and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, develop policy and their legislative agendas. Today Baldemar is managing partner at Barragan & Lopez, LLC leading the firm’s corporate/regulatory and immigration law groups, dividing his time between his law practice and government relations firm, Stratagem Consulting Group, LLC. Lopez earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Denver. Currently he serves on the Hoffman Estates Economic Development and Capital Improvements Commissions, is member of both the Chicago and the Illinois, Bar Association, and board member of the Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation, and most recently, the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project. Baldemar is married to his wife of 10 years and has two daughters, Mia and Diana.

Cynthia Brito| President Dare to Dream Cynthia is a second generation MexicanAmerican born in Uptown, Chicago and raised in the western suburbs. Cynthia became a teen mother at the age of 17 and 19 of two amazing girls Jocelyn and Marlene. Despite facing adversities throughout her life, she managed to obtain her Master’s degree in Latin American and Latino studies with high distinction from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Cynthia, is the president of Dare to Dream: Get Educated, a nonprofit organization that works with middle school and high school Latinas to encourage and support their efforts to graduate from high school, to encourage college enrollment, and to introduce them to college and career role models. Cynthia is also a co-founder of L@YAL, the first Latino youth led community organization in DuPage County which addresses various issues on immigration, reproductive justice, and access to education. She also recently worked in the Chicago for Chuy Campaign as special assistant to the chief of staff. Cynthia now works as a civil rights paralegal for a nationally recognized law firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick and Dym, Ltd. She has worked on multiple high impact litigation cases including Lewis v.City of Chicago, a historic race discrimination case involving 6,000 African American firefighter applicant class members, as well as several international civil rights cases involving the rights of migrant workers.

Cristina Castro | County Commissioner

Cristina Castro is a two-term Kane County Commissioner representing the 20th District from Elgin. She is a lifelong Elgin resident who holds a Master in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northern Illinois University. She currently serves as Chairperson of the Judicial and Public Safety Committee as well as serving on the Finance and Executive Committees for the County Board. Cristina is also a strong advocate for the environment as member of the Kane County Forest Preserve District’s Land Acquisition/ Enterprise and Executive committees. Cristina also serves on the board of directors for the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Black History Family Festival, and Centro de Información in addition to being involved with many other local organizations. This past August, Cristina announced her intentions to run for the Illinois State Senate as a Senator for the 22nd District which serves Elgin, Carpentersville, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, and part of Schaumburg.

Fernando Diaz | Director of College Savings | Illinois State Treasurer

Fernando Diaz currently serves as Director of College Savings for Illinois State Treasurer. Under this role, he leads the state’s efforts to help families save for their kids’ college education; responsible for managing two college savings programs currently valued over $7.5 billion and over 400,000 accounts. He has been key in shaping policy that provides access to higher education, having helped tens of thousands of students. Fernando began his professional career as the outreach coordinator for the Office of Latino Affairs at Chicago State University, where he helped the University raise and award over $500,000 in scholarship support. Born and raised in Chicago, he is a proud product of the public schools system, having completed a Bachelor’s in Political Science at Chicago State University, going on to earn an MA in Educational Leadership and Administration: Higher Education Administration, from Chicago State University and an MBA, from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In 2010 he created FC Republic, a youth soccer club in the Southeast Side of Chicago. He currently volunteers for both, the Chicago Park District and Catholic Charities, and is a current board member of the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (NSHMBA) Chicago Chapter. Diaz was recently named to Diversity MBA’s list of “Top 100 under 50 Diverse Emerging Leaders” for 2015. Fernando shares his life with his wife Amalia and two beautiful children, Morelia (13) and Leo (9)

Ivan Lopez | Co-Founder | Elemento L2

Ivan is the co-founder and Managing Director at Elemento L2, leading operations for the company. Ivan has been instrumental in driving the profitability and client retention, while providing leadership amongst the several teams serving the Elemento accounts. Previous to Elemento, Ivan functioned as Account Director for Relay Worldwide leading top accounts of the likes of Coca-Cola, AT&T and Beam Global. Pre-Relay, Ivan was Marketing Director for a start-up music venue with gaming targeting the thriving Hispanic market in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ivan got his break in the Hispanic music scene while working for VIVA and V5 Entertainment in Chicago. There he learned the ins and outs of successfully producing and marketing concerts and nightlife events around the country. A Finance and Marketing graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, allowed Ivan the opportunity to stay close to friends and family and find his calling in the event marketing industry.



Johanna Barsotti Marketing Analyst HOY Multi-Media Solutions

Johanna Barsotti is a highly versatile resource with more than 10 years of marketing experience and currently the marketing analyst at Hoy; a Spanish-language media brand that is part of the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Throughout her career, Johanna has held a number of positions as a professional and volunteer, serving diverse populations. Johanna’s background includes experience in market research, project management and relationship building. She has also served as a professional mentor and provided consultation on effective marketing practices. As an active volunteer in the Chicagoland community, Johanna leads a committee for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and volunteers for Purple Asparagus and The Cradle. Previously, she has taught Mexican folklore dance to children, taught English, prepared immigrant students with assimilation process, sat on the Latino Council at Dominican University, served on the board for both This Is ME and Student Resource Network. Her passion for enriching the lives of others, especially those from diverse backgrounds, is observed in everything she achieves. This attribute comes from her parent’s upbringing as they both migrated from Mexico to the U.S. and know firsthand the importance of accepting people and their cultural differences. Johanna obtained a bachelor’s degree with a double major in international business and Italian from Dominican University, and a certification in multicultural marketing from DePaul University.

Solskin Gomez-Krogh | Chief of Staff | The United Neighborhood Organization

Ms. Solskin Gómez-Krogh serves as The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) Chief of Staff, where she is responsible for assisting the CEO in executing a strategic plan to ensure the success of UNO and its subsidiary organizations. Prior to joining UNO, Solskin was an Executive Director at ALPFA, a national professional association focused on empowering Latinos and expanding opportunities for Latino leadership in the global market. As Executive Director of the Chicago Chapter, she led the operations, events and activities of the Chicago Chapter; managed relationships with nearly 100 major corporate partners and organizations; and consulted on strategies in talent management, talent development and recruitment and retention. Ms. Gómez-Krogh earned an MBA in International Business Management from DePaul University and was named one of the 2011 Top 100 Under 50 Emerging Leaders by Diversity MBA Magazine. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and International Studies with a focus on Latin America from Iowa State University.

Manuel Perez Chief of Staff | Cook County Clerk

Manuel Pérez currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Cook County Clerk, whose office serves the city of Chicago and suburban Cook County in Illinois. On August 1, 2015, Pérez became the first Latino to hold the position of Chief of Staff in the nearly 300-person office. Prior to joining the County Clerk, Pérez worked as Chief of Staff to Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” García. When García ran for Mayor of Chicago in 2015, Pérez served as campaign manager. Prior to joining Commissioner García, Pérez directed pharmacy and laboratory services at Access Community Health Network. He worked on President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in New Mexico after serving as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense. Born in Chicago to Mexican immigrants, Pérez grew up in neighboring Cicero, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and now resides in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.




Jose Duarte | Founder | Blackwood Group, LLC

Jose, a lifelong Chicagoan, founded Blackwood Group LLC, a complete service general contracting and design build firm, in 2006. Jose has over twenty years’ experience in engineering, program management, and construction management. Despite the economic downturn starting in 2008, Jose has delivered consistent revenue and capacity growth, currently oversees multi-million dollar commercial, mixed use, and residential projects throughout the Chicagoland area. Jose currently serves as Board Vice President for the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA), Co-Chair of the HACIA’s Scholarship Foundation, and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as a Board Member for the City of Chicago Building Board of Appeals. Jose holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science degree in Project Management from Northwestern University. Jose is also a LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Accredited Professional, and a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois. During Jose’s downtime, Jose enjoys traveling with his wife, Grace, and his two children; Elysia and Daniel.

Luis Cortez | Sr. Analyst Task Implementation & Analysis | United Airlines

He has more than 24 years of experience as an aviation professional in project management, strategic planning, quality assurance, operations, and aircraft maintenance. Is a respected leader, and entrepreneur who works with diverse organizations to help empower tomorrow’s leaders, today. Earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from National-Louis University, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame. Luis donates his time to education, youth, and several nonprofit organizations that serve children, teens and adults with serious and profound developmental disabilities, terminally ill children program, as well as fostering minority business initiatives. Serves as Vice President of Corporate Relations for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Committee member for the Business Resource Group at United Airlines, is PR Co-Chair for the United Speech and development club, and served on the Advisory Board for the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Harper College.

Richie Marrero Managing Associate | Mass Mutual

Richie specializes in helping executives and corporate clients create financial security for themselves, their families, and businesses. He leads a team of associates that provide innovative recommendations in managing risk, accumulating sufficient assets for retirement, and providing solutions for all areas of employee benefit needs. In Richie’s role as Managing Associate he also shares in responsibility for talent acquisition, Associates development, and leadership development within the firm. His professional associations include being a member of NAIFA Chicago Region, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) Chicago Chapter, Hispanic Dental Association, Alumni of University of Wisconsin, Church Council and Launch Team. At the forefront of Richie’s personal life are his wife, Kathryn, and two dogs, Paulie and Sophie. They live in Northbrook, IL, where they share a passion for community involvement. They maintain a commitment to Concordia Place, Gads Hill Center, Junior Achievement, Concordia Lutheran Church, and POSSE Chicago

Sure everybody remembers Jacob Vargas for his classic role as A.B. Quintanilla in Selena, but the veteran actor has a long, storied career in Hollywood. Originally from Michoacán, México, Vargas grew up in Pacoima, California. He started in television in the late 1980’s and has kept on From Sons of Anarchy to starring in cool movies like Devil, Vargas continues to improve his craft. This month we can all see him in The 33.

Your idea of Happiness? Being with my family. You cannot put a price tag on it. In my house we have a thing called “Huggie Time” where we all drop what were doing and cuddle for ten minutes. It’s the best therapy. Your favorite virtue? My favorite virtue is honesty. Your favorite qualities in a Latino? The strong sense of Loyalty to your family and friends. Plus Latinos love to party and have a good time. Your favorite qualities in a Latina? Is the same as my favorite virtue in a Latino... It’s also a virtue I would respect from anyone regardless of ethnic make up. Your chief characteristic? I can be a perfectionist at times. Especially when it comes to my work. I’m realizing that there is no perfection in art so I need to just trust the process and let go. What you appreciate the most in your friends? I have a great circle of supportive and caring friends but what I love most is their sense of humor. When we get together we laugh our asses off! Your main flaw? I think my main flaw is that I can be impatient. Your favorite hobby? I don’t have a real hobby. I have many interests though. I love watching movies and documentaries, I love urban street art and collecting mid century modern furniture. Your idea of unhappiness? My idea of unhappiness is living with regret. Taking the safe and comfortable road and never taking risks. You have to take risks. If not yourself, who would you be? I would love to be a musician or an artist. I am in awe of people that can create something out of nothing. Where would you like to live? I always thought I wanted to live on the beach but I don’t like how sand winds up in the crack of my ass so now I may want to live in a woodsy area near a lake. Your favorite color and flower? Your favorite bird? I’m not a huge fan of colors. I like black, white, and grey...and blue denim. I don’t think I have a favorite bird. The Eagle maybe? Your favorite Latino authors, poets? My favorite Latino authors are Victor Villaseñor, Oscar Zeta Acosta and Luis J Rodríguez . Favorite Latino poets are Pablo Neruda, Reinaldo Arenas and Octavio Paz. Your favorite fictional Latino heroes, be it in books, movies. I don’t have any favorite fictional heroes. My favorite heroes are all real people.


Jacob Vargas Your favorite Latino painters and composers. My favorite Latino painters are Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. My favorite Latino composer is Augustín Laura Your Latino heroes in real life? My favorite Latino heroes in real life are César Chávez who fought for the rights of farm workers and WW2 Army Hero Roy Benavidez. Your favorite Latina heroines in real life? My favorite Latina heroines in real life are Dolores Huerta who cofounded the UFW with César Chávez and Frida Kahlo What Latino characters in history do you most dislike? Latino characters in history that most dislike are dictators, warlords or anyone that has murdered in the name of religion. Your Latina heroines in World history? My favorite Latinas in world history are the Soldaderas that fought along with men during the Mexican Revolution. Adelita is the most famous. Sadly more people know Adelitas as a brothel in Tijuana. Your favorite Latino food and drink? My favorite Latino food believe it or not are Tacos de Lengua or cow tongue tacos. They are delicious. Don’t knock them till you tried them. And who doesn’t love good ole orchata. The restaurants always make them crazy sweet so I dilute it with a lot of water. Your favorite Latino names? My favorite Latino name? That’s just a weird question. What I hate the most… I hate the abuse of power. Especially directors or actors who yell at crew members or extras. That shit just burns me up. The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with The natural talent I wish I was gifted with is the ability to sing or play music. It’s truly a gift. How I wish to die I’ve always had this fantasy of dying on a Broadway stage after giving the performance of a lifetime during a 10 minute standing ovation curtain call at 95 years old. That would be epic. What is your present state of mind. My current state of mind is overwhelmed. But in a good way. I’m juggling recurring characters on three different TV shows that shoot in three different states. For what weakness have you most toleration? The Weakness I most tolerate is insecurity because we have all been there at some point in our lives. Your favorite motto? As an actor you deal with rejection constantly. You put blood sweat and tears into an audition just to be told you don’t fit their idea of the character and they are going a different way. To that I say my favorite motto “Fuck em. Move on!” latinoleaders.com

Story by: Cesar Arredondo Courtesy Photo: Delta




unning is a passion for airline executive Jose Zapata. With seven

marathons under his belt, he still trains as often as he can, on weekdays and on weekends. “Running clears your mind and helps you come up with new ideas,” Zapata states apparently suggesting a connection between the sport and his personal success in business. Maybe, just maybe, all that long-distance running helped thrust him to his new, higher position in the flight business. Zapata is Delta Airlines’ new general manager for Central America and the Caribbean. The appointment announced in September is the latest of several promotions he has earned since his arrival at the major U.S. carrier six-and-a-half years ago. Zapata joined Delta’s Specialty Sales Development Department in 2009 and moved relatively quickly up the ranks spending little over a year in each post, including his previous job in district sales for the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Zapata, who has a 30-year-long career in the airline industry, is based in Dallas, Texas. Central America figures prominently in Delta’s recent global expansion. The airline, among the top three largest in the U.S., has served that region of Latin America for about a decade and a half, with a sizeable growth in the past few years that now connects ten Central American cities with the rest of the world, according to Zapata. That includes direct weekly flights between Los Angeles and four national capitals, Guatemala City, Managua, San Jose and San Salvador, he says. It also connects those major Central American cities and others with Atlanta. “We have weekend flights between the region and Detroit and Minneapolis, too,” adds Zapata. That expansion is a response to the travel needs of the increasing immigrant population living in the U.S. “There’s been an increase in (flights) demand and we have capitalized on it,” explains Zapata, who added that Los Angeles has long been a destination by Latin American clients, especially from Central America, who come to the United States for business and pleasure, and to visit family and friends. “L.A. is a very important port of entry,” he notes. Los Angeles County is the county with the largest concentration of Central Americans in the nation and almost 30 percent of Central Americans have settled in California, according to Census figures. Furthermore, L.A. offers many Delta connections to other American cities like Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, San Diego and San Francisco and Honolulu as well as international destinations such as Vancouver, Canada and Tokyo, Japan, says Zapata. Part of Delta’s success, according to Zapata, is the airline’s commitment to hire Spanish-speaking personnel (like Zapata), offer menus inspired in Latin America and also provide entertainment that caters to their clients’ language and tastes.

Aggressive, focused marketing in Central America is another factor for his company’s success, he says. Zapata recently came back from Honduras to see the progress of Delta’s new sponsorship of Real Club Deportivo España, one of Honduras’s four major soccer teams, started early this year. The club’s jerseys now bear Delta’s logo. The airlines efforts seem to have paid off. In October Delta received three World Travel Awards for its services to Latin America–including United States’ Leading Airline to Central America. The awards are considered among the industry’s top recognitions. Zapata is also proud of other recent accomplishments related to the region he now oversees at Delta. “For three months this summer, from June to August, we had zero flight cancellations,” he boasts.


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Delta’s new head for Central America and the Caribbean acknowledges the challenge of not only repeating such feats but also improving on them. But Zapata says he is up to the task. “Our main goal is to remain the best North American carrier in Central America,” he declares. The veteran marathon runner says he is ready to hit the ground running.




Susana Siman Product Manager | Spatially

Susana Siman is a product manager at Spatially, a location analytics company in Miami. With a background in urban planning and graphic design, Susana brings a humancentered approach to designing strategies and products that better engage audiences and bridge gaps within urban development. Susana has a deep appreciation for Miami and it’s diverse communities and has worked on a range of local planning projects, from designing a solution to stolen appliances in rehabbed homes to facilitating workshops between community members and real estate developers. She is Miami’s Strategic Designer for 3x3 Design and on the advisory council for Urban Impact Lab, both innovative planning firms working to create smarter services and programs for more livable cities. She holds an MS in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a BA in Fine Arts / Design and International Development Studies from The George Washington University.

Ric Herrero | Executive Director | #CubaNow

Ric Herrero is the Executive Director of #CubaNow, a non-partisan, national campaign credited with developing the messaging and advocacy platform that helped shape public opinion in advance of President Obama’s December 17th announcement on U.S.-Cuba relations. Previously he served as Deputy Executive Director of the Cuba Study Group, a non-partisan, non-profit organization comprised of Cuban-American business and professional leaders dedicated to promoting civil society development in Cuba. His views and articles on U.S.-Cuba policy have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, El Pais. USA Today, and The Miami Herald. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on NPR, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN en Español, Noticias Univision, Telemundo, and AlJazeera America. Mr. Herrero has a J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a B.A. in Business Administration from Florida International University. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is the son of Cuban exiles.

Wifredo “Wifi” Fernandez Director | CREATE Miami

Wifredo Fernandez is a social entrepreneur based in Miami. He is a Founding Director of The Center for Research and Transformative Entrepreneurship (CREATE) at Miami Dade College, a venture incubator for students. He is also the Co-Founder of The LAB Miami, a 10,000 sq. ft. campus for creative entrepreneurs. Serves as a visiting fellow on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Miami School of Law, a guest lecturer in the City Sciences Master’s program at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and an adviser to the Urban.Usfund. Recently recognized by The Miami Herald as one of South Florida’s 20 under 40. Prior to starting The LAB, Wifi was a Teach For America corps member in Washington, D.C. and holds degrees from American University and the University of Pennsylvania. 70 • October-November 2015

Paula Celestino COO of Crea7ive Interactive Advertising (crea7ive.com) CEO of Kloset Karma

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Paula is the COO of Crea7ive.com, an award-winning branding agency, and founder and CEO of Kloset Karma, a people powered boutique app, winner of the 2014 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge and 2014 TECH Cocktail’s Hottest Startup in Miami. Paula’s startup journey during last year inspired her to create a woman in tech panel series called “A Conversation with Innovative Women” with the purpose to empower women to become innovators/entrepreneurs and to create an environment to foster mentorship and collaboration. She has also organized Startup Weekend Diversity Miami last May 2015 and is a Startup Weekend community leader.

Oscar Corral | CEO | Explica Media

Oscar Corral is a former award-winning journalist for the Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and Newsday, who traded in his pen for a video camera after more than a decade as a writer. Corral, who is the Director and Producer of

Exotic Invaders: Pythons in the Everglades,

scored a hit in 2012 with his first feature-length documentary, Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood. That film, which featured the iconic American author, ran on PBS nationally, was screened in more than 40 independent theaters nationwide, and received glowing reviews and press from media outlets such as Vanity Fair, Good Morning America, USA Today and The Miami Herald. Corral has also published a novel, Keep Her Contained, based on a true story about a Salvadoran immigrant whose mummified remains were found beneath a Long Island mansion. His next novel, Primary Sins, about a sex scandal in a presidential primary, is due out later in 2015. Corral is the founder and president of Explica Media Solutions, a video production company. The Miami native lives in his hometown with his wife and two daughters.

Andrea Prado | Owner/Chef The Wholly Kitchen

Andrea, her sister Francesca and her partner chef Loïc Hemery founded The Wholly Kitchen- a meal plan delivery service in Miami that is like no other. The Wholly Kitchen is true to the customer, to the food it serves and to the source that provides it. Through this genuine kitchen, chef Andrea Prado is likely to impress you with simplicity that doesn’t put health against pleasure and will have you feeling satisfied and alive after every meal. Her love affair with cooking began at the age of 12 and was mastered to perfection with proper training at CVCG School of Culinary in her native country of Venezuela. Through the years she developed skillful techniques in different areas of the kitchen, from Haute Cuisine working in worldrenowned restaurants in Miami and Latin America to Vegan and Raw as part of her own lifestyle. What made her evolve from a culinary graduate to a chef that INDULGES uniqueness, is her affinity to each ingredient and her understanding of their perfection. From this organic relationship the Wholly Kitchen was born offering daily meal plans for food lovers of any kind; vegans, vegetarians, and personalized diets. Her cooking is undoubtedly an art, without saturating the dishes in unnecessary fat, sugar or salt; it is Wholly, and Wholly is what the world needs.


Antonio Talledo Co-Founder | Waleteros After spending most of his childhood between Peru and Venezuela, Antonio earned his degree in Industrial Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. A summer internship after his first year in college at a bank in Caracas made him realize, however, that he had a passion for finance. After graduating, he started working in the trading floor of Goldman Sachs in New York, joining a group that advised Latin American corporations and governments on managing their exposures in currency, interest rate and commodities markets. After a couple of years, on a visit to Miami, Antonio saw a thriving and growing city. But he also saw a city with drastic contrasts, and discovered that more than 40% of households in the community were unbanked or under banked. Across the United States, that percentage is even higher for demographic groups such as Hispanics. Antonio decided to move to Miami and cofounded Waleteros, a socially oriented financial technology startup with a clear mission: to provide millions of underserved individuals access to world class banking services, via their smartphones.

Cecilia Gutierrez-Abety President/CEO Miami Children’s Initiative Cecilia Gutierrez is the CEO of Miami Children’s Initiative. The Miami Children’s Initiative is one of three large-scale social change efforts in the state of Florida with the vision of transforming our most challenging and promising communities. All three (Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville) efforts are modeled after the nationally known Harlem Children’s Zone. The vision for The Miami Children’s Initiative traces back to 2006, when a group of committed and passionate Liberty City community leaders, local politicians and residents came together to figure out what might truly work in our community. [creativemornings.com]

Marly Q. Casanova Founder & CEO | PARK Project Marlene de la Caridad Quincoces Casanova, better known simply as “MarlyQ”, is an award-winning Event Creator, Yoga Instructor, Speaker & Philanthropist on a mission to inspire people worldwide to PARK (Perform Acts of Random Kindness). MarlyQ is an effervescent free spirit with an unquenchable thirst for service and a natural talent for inspiring, energizing and uniting people for good. With over 15 years of professional experience producing large-scale community fundraising events, her servant leadership style, radiant energy and relentless passion has helped raised over $1M for dozens of nonprofit organizations in South Florida. As the Founder and CEO (Chief Events Officer) of PARK Project, MarlyQ creates one-of-a-kind events, like 5K PARK Fest, that inspire people to “PARKticipate” and make a difference in the community. Learn more at www.5KPARKFest.org “My mission is to inspire people to be the spark and PARK!” – Marly Q.

Maria Chicuen Assistant to the President Special Projects Miami Dade College

Born in Cuba, María Carla Chicuén moved to the United States in her last year of middle school and completed secondary studies in Miami, FL. She obtained her Bachelor´s Degree with High Honors in History from Harvard University in 2010, and a Master´s Degree in International Relations with Merit from the London School of Economics the following year. In the last decade, María Carla has actively pursued her passion to foster access to higher education among fellow Hispanics and low-income youth. At Harvard, she worked for over three years as a Latino Recruiter at the Admissions Office’s Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, informing prospective students and their families about the path to Harvard and other selective universities. She launched her full-time professional career as a consultant for the Education Sector of the World Bank in Washington D.C., focusing on the Latin America & Caribbean region. She later transitioned to the Panama office of the Inter-American Development Bank. Currently, María Carla serves the President of Miami Dade College, Eduardo Padrón, as Special Projects Assistant. Her first book, a guide for low-income students who aspire to enter the nation’s top colleges, will be published in the coming months.

Dan Grech VP of Marketing and Public Relations OfferCraft

Dan Grech is a digital marketing, strategic communications, and storytelling specialist who works with startups, nonprofits and universities craft their story for maximum impact. He is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at OfferCraft, a marketing technology company that uses behavioral economics and game theory to create offers customers can’t refuse. Dan has worked as an award-winning print, radio and digital journalist and university educator. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Spain, he was the Americas correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace and the Buenos Aires correspondent for The Miami Herald. He founded the MarketHack digital marketing training program at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest college. And he has taught dozens of courses, including at Columbia, Princeton, Florida International University and the University of Miami. He has Masters degrees in nonfiction storytelling and Spanish-language journalism and is a graduate of Princeton University. He is working on a memoir about the 18 months he spent rebuilding his South Beach after it was destroyed by a Hurricane. He is married to Gretchen Beesing and has a daughter.

Gabriela Guzman | Founder & Director | The Jupiter Circle Gaby Guzman is a Miami-based Digital Strategist. Raised in Dominican Republic, she moved to the U.S. 16 years ago. As a passionate advocate of social justice, Gaby is driven by the power of communication and sharing ideas to create brands and build movements. She lived in New York City for 8 years where she worked in digital advertising agencies. Her expertise is in using the power of social media to bring together engaged online communities. Her client experience ranges from: Planned Parenthood Federation of America to Tiffany & Co. Since moving to Miami in 2012, she founded The Jupiter Circle - a social media agency committed to heart, awesomeness, authenticity and results. She empowers businesses to find and engage their tribe with an exciting online presence. Gaby has also happily dived in to a thriving and exciting scene in Miami – dedicated to improving the city for all and creating a genuine sense of community – through the New Leaders Council Miami and Engage Miami. Gaby sits on the board of the Social Media Club of South Florida and the New Leaders Council in Miami. Her speaking experiences include: South by Southwest Interactive and Voto Latino Power Summit.




September 23, 2015 Millennium Biltmore

Leadership: Alex Nogales Entrepreneurship: Hector Barreto Community Service: Castulo de la Rocha Maestro of Professional Achievement: Mónica Lozano

MAESTROS Presented with the support from:

OF LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Maestro Awards

IN THE LATINO COMMUNITY, like in the rest of the nation, there are maestros and then there are Maestros. Four of the latter were recognized by Latino Leaders Magazine on a recent September night at the Los Angeles’ historic Biltmore Hotel that very appropriately coincided with Hispanic Heritage Month. Mónica Lozano, Héctor Barreto, Cástulo de la Rocha and Alex Nogales are this year’s recipients of the second annual Maestro Awards bestowed by Latino Leaders to local pioneers who call L.A. and Southern California home. Latino winemaker of the night

72 • October / November 2015

MEDIA GIANT In his opening remarks, Latino Leaders Publisher Jorge Ferráez said that his passion was to tell and celebrate “the success stories and the


accomplishments and the triumphs of many leaders that have made history and are still making history for our community.” And arguably history has been made by the four Maestros whose contributions have gone well beyond their hometown. With a career spanning over three decades and regarded as one of the nation’s most powerful Latinas in media, U.S. Hispanic Media Inc. Chair Mónica Lozano received the Maestro of Professional Achievement. Lozano, 59, started out as a journalist working for a few publications. In 1985 she joined the management of La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper founded by her Mexican immigrant grandfather, Ignacio Lozano. At the paper she moved up the ranks to eventually become publisher in 2004 and years later was named CEO of ImpreMedia, a newly-formed newspaper conglomer-

ate. President Barack Obama appointed her to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2009. She retained her posts both at La Opinión and ImpreMedia for more than two years after the companies were acquired by U.S. Hispanic Media in 2012. Lozano said she was proud to be part of a family that has stayed in the media business for nearly 100 years, navigating many ups and downs along the way. La Opinión was established three years before the Great Depression; it has faced many recessions since. What does that success require? “It takes guts, determination, having a vision,” she said. Later, Lozano added, “You have to stay true to your passion (and) never let obstacles become barriers.” Lozano also spoke of social commitment. “Our job is



LOS ANGELES Jorge Ferraez, Publisher of Ferraez USA sharing good times with his guests, among them Jacqueline Cacho, Pilar Avila, CEO of the NAA, Jesus Monroy among others.

The Maestro recipients: Alex Nogales, President, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Monica Lozano, Chairman of US Hispanic Media, Castulo de la Rocha, President, CEO of Altamed Health Services Corporation, and Hector Barreto, Chairman of the Latino Coalition. Monica Lozano, Chairman of US Hispanic Media received the Maestro of Professional Achievement.

not to sell a newspaper everyday,” she stated. “Our job is to inform and empower communities.” BUSINESS OWNER, ADVOCATE Entrepreneurship seems to run in the family of Héctor Barreto, chairman of the nonprofit Latino Coalition. He was presented with the Maestro Entrepreneurship Award. Barreto, 61, worked in and co-managed a family restaurant and other ventures and later started his own employee benefits and securities firms. His father Hector V. Barreto founded the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in which Barreto Jr. served as vice chairman. When he moved to Southern California, Barreto was named chairman of the board for the Latin Business Association in L.A. Last year he formed the Washington, D.C.-based Hispanic Business Round Table to promote the advancement of small businesses. When asked about populist politicians who aspire to become U.S. presidents by blaming Mexican immigrants for the nation’s problems, Barreto responded, “we have always had populists who have tried to divide this country” without succeeding. He added, “This too shall pass.” He reminded the audience that Latinos are the largest minority and have a purchasing power of $1 trillion. “We are the fastest growing sector in small business, that is not going to change,” he added. Barreto Jr. also paid homage to his Mexican-born father whom he considered a business mentor and gave him some words of wisdom about heritage. “It’s very sad to see a person who forgets where he comes from,” he said in Spanish recalling his father’s advice. Barreto Jr.’s latest venture is a line of tequilas that honors his late father that is called “Tributo A Mi Padre.” MEDICAL SERVICES Healthcare is another sector where Latinos are leaving their mark. Four decades ago, Cástulo de la Rocha founded AltaMed Health Services to serve Hispanics and other underserved minorities. He was bestowed with Latino Leaders’ Maestro of Community Service Award. Inspired by the civil rights movement, de la Rocha applied for and got a job as a director of a small clinic in East Los Angeles–he says he was the only applicant for the job. That was the beginning of AltaMed.

74 • June 2013 74 • October / November 2015

Hector Barreto, Chairman of the Latino Coalition, recipient of the Maestro of Entrepreneurship.

Castulo de la Rocha, President, CEO of Altamed Health Services Corporation, awarded with the Maestro of Community Service.

This year’s LA Maestro awards were held at the elegant Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Today, the institution operates 43 sites in L.A. and Orange Counties with a half-a-billion-dollar budget and delivers nearly one million patient visits a year. In addition to offering basic services, AltaMed has joined campaigns against HIV/AIDS and obesity and also has been instrumental in enrolling Latinos under Obamacare in California. “Quite frankly… I’m just getting started,” he said jokingly before an eruption of applauses.

Alex Nogales, President, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition received the Maestro of Leadership.

Past Maestro recepient, Moctesuma Esparza and guests.

IMAGE OF LATINOS For his part, Alex Nogales has been at the forefront in the fight for an accurate portrayal of Latinos in media. The president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition was awarded with a Maestro of Leadership. Since its foundation, NHMC has filed more than 50 petitions to deny broadcast licenses to many television stations and launched campaigns against radio shock-jock Howard Stern and the Spanish-language TV show, José Luis Sin Censura for reportedly disparaging Latinos. “How we are perceived is always going to be the way that we’re treated,” he said echoing what film director Moctesuma Esparza and others have often stated in the past. Many polls indicate that non-Latinos believe that most Latinos are undocumented, lazy and unpatriotic, according to Nogales. He proposes a solution: enabling and empowering Latinos to enter the media industry on bigger numbers and have a say in the creative process in television programs, films, radio and other media. “We have to be the ones to tell our stories,” Nogales says.






“Código Latino”


creating a dialogue with the Atlanta leaders

here is a growing buzz in Atlanta this year. As we gathered back in June to meet the key people that have helped influence and build the Latino support in the community we heard the group speak about the “código latino” the Latino Code that needs to be in place, for everyone to connect and the topic was also raised on what needs to be done to elevate more Latinos into power positions. There was no better group to ask since among them we had the most powerful leadership from the corporate sector, both influential and actively, paving the way for the next wave. It is also noted that across the nation, in our interviews, Atlanta had one of the strongest representations of Latinas in leadership, including Coca-Cola’s own Vice President, Strategic

Partnership Marketing, Lourdes “Lou” Grill and attorney Brenda Lopez Romero also at that table, who is running for Georgia State House Legislation and if elected she would be the first Latina to ever hold that office. The Latinas of Atlanta were well represented! As the night carried on, there was a lot of love and laughter in the room, it felt like a family dinner, but as we listened it made sense why the group was so warm, more than simply southern hospitality, we must look at the makeup of Atlanta’s Latino community. This community was built on the unity of the families that came to the city in order to build a piece of history, Centennial Olympic Park. This is where the journey began for many of the leaders, with the 1996 Olympics, which gives this phenomenal group of leaders a unique and distinctive perspective on the current topic of immigration, a perspective we won’t find in other cities. As we head into 2016 and the current political climate continues to focus on the Latino vote, we look forward to revisiting the Atlanta group and meeting with the young rising leaders, as we continue to add to this growing “Código Latino.”

Brenda Lopez

Eric Richner

Brenda Lopez has been a very proud Gwinnettian for the last ten years. She is the Principal Attorney at The Lopez Firm, L.L.C. located in the heart of District 99 on Indian Trail Road. Brenda holds a law degree from Syracuse University with a National Security and Counterterrorism certificate and a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in Political Science and Sociology. While in law school, Brenda was a law clerk for Georgia Legal Services Program, American Civil Liberties Union and an extern for the Trial Judge Laura Galvan Salgado for the First District Court of Morelos in Mexico. In addition, she is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, and Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She also proudly serves as a Vice-Chair of the Latino Caucus for the Democratic Party of Georgia. Brenda works hard to promote the importance of education from speaking to middle and high school student to advocating for higher education access and opportunity for our youth. Brenda will continue to work hard to make sure we have a bright future in our District, county, and great State of Georgia. Brenda believes we need a Leader for District 99, one who is ready to put in the work necessary to move the District forward.

Eric Richner is an Assistant Vice President in Compliance for Voya® Investment Management. Eric assists with the implementation and testing of the firm’s compliance and portfolio management systems, in addition to creating new processes utilizing technology to improve efficiencies. Before joining Compliance in 2008, Eric worked as a Team Leader in the IT department of ING Investment Management. Prior to joining ING Investment Management in 2003, he was with MetLife where he worked in the information technology area supporting investments and financial reporting as a Project Manager / Senior Consultant. Eric received his Masters in Project Management and MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management and his BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. .Eric is the current Co-Chair of the Atlanta Latino Employee Resource Group and has been actively involved in the Voya Community Partners volunteer projects for many years. Eric is a Dominican raised in Puerto Rico and went to high school in the Dominican Republic.

76 • October-November 2015


Federico Lander Federico Lander is a dual JD, fully bilingual in English and Spanish. He has significant international corporate and transactional practice experience with focus in Latin America and the U.S. Federico is an Assistant General Counsel for a supply chain consulting, engineering and implementation company with global operations. Responsible for drafting, reviewing and negotiating complex agreements including: supply chain system implementation and retrofit agreements; professional services agreements and statements of work; system support/ service level agreements and maintenance agreements; software license and escrow agreements; procurement agreements and VAR agreements; intellectual property; NDAs, other commercial agreements for the company’s domestic and foreign operations. Also responsible for providing general business and legal counsel, compliance support, and advice related to the company’s risk management and strategic initiatives.

Lourdes “Lou” Grill Lourdes Grill is Vice President, Strategic Partnership Marketing, Coca-Cola Refreshments at The Coca-Cola Company. She currently leads the global relationships with Hilton Hotels and Delta Airlines, is accountable for the Company’s global cinema channel strategy and leads the relationships with Carmike Theatres and Six Flags Theme Parks. Prior to her role in Strategic Partnerhsip Marketing, Lou was a Director in Business Affairs, leading a team of Business Affairs experts to oversee the structure and economics of sponsorship deals and advise on marketing asset strategy and intellectual property transactions. Lou began her career at The Coca-Cola Company in Finance, providing North America P&L forecasting, management and oversight. Before joining The Coca-Cola Company, Lou had roles in International Pricing and Business Planning at Federal Express Corporation. Lou is on the board of the United Way of Greater Atlanta serving as the Marketing Committee Chair. She served the board of Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta for seven years including two years as the Chair of the Board. She received an MBA from the University of Georgia and a BA in Anthropology from Duke University. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two daughters.

Melissa Palacios

Melissa Palacios is a dynamic, resourceful, bilingual MPA with proven experience in multinational corporations as well as in the non-profit sector. She has a diverse background with progressive experience in fundraising, business development, project management and marketing. Melissa has exceptional interpersonal, networking and negotiation skills with proven success in building business within diverse and multicultural communities. Melissa has a proven track record in forging successful relationships with industry leading corporate brands and prominent community leaders.

Santiago Marquez Santiago Marquez was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 1971. He lived in Portland, Oregon until 1982 when his parents were transferred with Georgia-Pacific to Atlanta, GA. He is a graduate of Georgia State University; alumnus of the Buckhead Business Leadership Class; alumnus of Leadership Atlanta, best class ever-2013; and a member of the Gwinnett Rotary, and in 2015 he served on the Gwinnett Citizens Review Board. He also serves on multiple boards including the Aurora Theatre, Ferst Foundation and the advisory board of the Alliance Theater. Mr. Marquez joined GHCC in September 2008. His main functions include financial management, fundraising, membership development and partnership development. Mr. Marquez has been working in the nonprofit sector since 1998, cutting his teeth with Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Inc., while attending graduate school at Georgia State University. After CCCS, Marquez served as the Director of Employment and Housing for the Latin American Association, starting the first housing department to focus on Hispanics in Atlanta. In 2004, Marquez joined Boys & Girls Clubs of America where he worked for four years as the Director of Latino Outreach. During this tenure his duties included implementing a Latino outreach strategy in multiple Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. The Latino outreach initiative focused on outreach to Latino youth and families, while helping Clubs increase the number of Latino staff and board members. Most recently, Mr. Marquez served as the Director of Development, NE region where his duties included fundraising and corporate relations in the northeast region of the United States. In 2014, Mr. Marquez received an award from the National Diversity Council. He has also received numerous certificates from the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business. He is the proud husband of a beautiful wife and very proud father of two beautiful daughters.

Daneyni Sanguinetti Daneyni Sanguinetti is Senior Manager Multicultural Marketing Center of Excellence for The Coca-Cola Company’s North America Group. In her current role, she leverages consumer insights to help develop and implement strategic marketing initiatives. She also serves as the Multicultural (MC) subjectmatter expert (SME) liaison to the North America Brand portfolio strategy teams, driving the integration of MC consumer insights into their marketing strategies. Born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Daneyni joined the company in 2012 and has held roles of increasing responsibility in both Marketing Innovation with the Global Freestyle Team and Marketing Strategy with the Multicultural Marketing Center of Excellence Team. Before joining Coca-Cola, Daneyni spent over ten years in consumer market research in various industries, including Banking, Construction and Telecommunications (global). Sanguinetti holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where she graduated Cum Laude, and a Master of Science in International Business from the University of The West Indies, Jamaica. Daneyni is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mazda’s new fun crossover Story by Joseph Treviño Photos courtesy of Mazda

The 2016 CX-3 is a practical hatchback with the soul of a sports car

For decades, wagons have gotten a bad rap.

With its terse, 146-horsepowered 2.0 SKYACTIV-G engine, the CX-3 Call it a backlash against traditional domesticity, an aversion propels its 2809 lbs. (2,952 lbs. if you get the AWD version I tested for a for the vehicles our parents drove or we simply do not think week) with the maneuverability of a stray cat. On the congested streets they are that aesthetically pleasing (never mind that in trendy of Dallas or on the freeways in an almost one-hour drive to my home in Europe they are still the rage). Wagons are passé. Fort Worth, the CX-3 would pass cars with ease, purring nicely. Well, not quite. Crossovers and to some extent some SUVs Not as tall as other crossover vehicles, say like the Jeep Patriot, are really tall wagons, without the classic 1970s family vehicle the CX-3 has a lower center of gravity that helps it move like a look we tend to disdain in America. dancer with a darty feel that makes you feel, well, alive. The 6-speed The answer could lie in Crossover Utility Vehicles, which automatic transmission works wonderfully, as well as the rack and combine the roomy space of SUVs with the gas-sipping thriftipinion steering system, the Macpherson struts and torsion beam ness of small, economic vehicles. At last, automobiles that are axle balances the suspension system marvelously, straddling the line compact, roomy and perfect for the whole family, without the between soaking bumps and enough road feel to make you believe looks of a domestic vehicle (as if there is anything wrong with you are part of the car. that). A crossover or a hatchback –you be the judge- the CX-3 has enough Here’s the point: we want a proficient household car that touches that it will not leave you wanting for a more expensive can do it all but feels like a sedan. Wait a minute! How about European car. Starting at $19,960 the CX-3 looks dashing, has brushed making it fun? aluminum and suede door panels (if you opt Enter the Mazda CX-3, which is as for the Grand Touring version) and gives you a Looks: Good looking. And not only for a talented as any small family would want James Bond-styled, head-up display that elevates crossover or hatchback. but with an attitude and fun factor that from the dashboard, just about the gauge hood. will give many sporty cars a run for their As a former MX-5 owner, I did not miss my Style: CUV or hatchback. money in that area. Remember, it’s made beloved roadster during the time I spent with Engine and transmission: SKYACTIV-G 2.0L by the same company that created the the CX-3. This crossover is proof that you do Engine, 146 horsepower. Front wheel best roadster in history: the Mazda Miata not need a sports car to have some real fun. or all wheel drive. Six-speed automatic MX-5. Yes, yes, yes. You might be searching for the transmission. No, it is not as fun as the MX-5, but then motorized version of a showgirl or a boy toy, but again no car can match the little roadster in this homely vehicle is the boy or girl next door Fuel: FWS: 29/35/31 MPG. AWD: that department. Still, it has a lot of the famwho ends up being better-looking, far more intel27/32/29 MPG/ ily DNA that ensures a vehicle of this nature ligent and with an uncanny substance that ends gets as fun as it can. up trumping a shallow pretty face in all areas. Price: The Sport version starts at It delivers. What more can you ask for? $19,960. The top of the line Grand Touring version starts at $24,990


Photo: Courtesy

Story by Joseph Treviño of the Cowtown Coliseum


Cowboy Country

The Cowtown Coliseum at the Fort Worth Stockyards may be just what you need to cure your corporate boredom malaise


t takes a lot to impress young people these days. Everything they see and hear has to be authentic. Even if it resembles something bogus, it is frowned upon. Still, when gazing upon the real article, millenials often have a sense of old-school wonder. Few sports or activities are as true as the rodeo and few of them are as original as the Stockyards Fort Worth Rodeo. A cement and concrete arena that can seat 3,418, the Cowtown Coliseum is a place that oozes charisma from every inch and was the first indoor venue of its kind to hold rodeo events since its launch in 1908. The strong smell of cows, the views of hundreds of real cowgirls and cowboys walking around in their bull-riding hats and the comings and goings of hipsters swigging blue bottles of Bud Light greet you just before the show begins. But wait, this is no show, this is as real as it gets and is far from your dreaded cubicle or your boring work meeting. The good times begin long before you step inside the coliseum, though. As soon as you walk on the cobblestone streets of the Forth Worth Stockyards, you get a feeling

that you are in another country; you quickly get used to the bovine scents. Here, in this 98-acre historical district is a real family-friendly place that also allows open containers. That means you can down your beer on the street as your boots thud sonorously on these historic sidewalks — how cool is that? The juggernaut of freedom that The Stockyards exudes becomes the antidote to boredom. The frenzied pace of corporate America is left behind as cowboy culture welcomes you with open arms. The citizens of the Stockyards know just how bad we are entangled by modern life and they have just the right potions to free us from our shackles. There is something magical about the Stockyards, like if you just entered Middle Earth and despite having a mythological mien all around you, it feels — just like the J.R.R. Tolkien novels- more real than the so-called real world; you are alive, happy and free. It’s full of shops, tourists, horse rides, cantinas photo ops, mechanical bulls, Longhorn cattle drives and restaurants with tasty Texan food. But unlike an amusement park, nothing here is contrived or fake. The participants are all what they are supposed to


be and not pretending what they are not; it’s Marlboro Country. If everything feels “real” that’s because it is. The Stockyards was the last outpost for Old West cattle drives to make a stop before they headed to Abilene, Kansas via the Chisholm Trail. The place was and still is the spot where cattle is placed, sold and moved all over the country. Businesses have been here since the days of the gunfighters (choreographed gunfights still happen here during the summer). Every day, tourists from all over the world — the other night, visitors from England, Germany and Japan sat next to me in my front-row box seats at the Coliseum — mingle organically with working cowgirls and cowboys from all parts of Texas, the rest of the U.S., Mexico, Australia, Canada and Brazil. They all have the trait that makes them cow folks: humility. At the Stockyards, you never feel like an outsider. You feel at home. Still, the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards is the rodeo that happens every Friday and Saturday night. For those of us who have never been to one, we are dazzled by the majesty of women barrel racers as they cut through the wind on their gorgeous horses at full speed —all of them are impressive but the one that steals your heart is 9-year-old prodigy Chayni Chamberlain — the audacity of the bronc riders and the fun and charms of the brave rodeo clowns as they go seamlessly from being matadors to playing sheep-chasing games with children from the crowd. But the ones who turn heretics into converts are the bull-riders. Their deathdefying stunts as they ride 1,800 pounds of muscle, fury and hell is why they call this the most dangerous sport on earth. Some months ago, my wife and I took our twenty-something daughters from that modern Babylon called L.A. –my hometown- to the Stockyards. Hardcore millenials, we were not sure how they would react, since they are so hard to impress. They were floored. They loved every inch of the Stockyards, but what turned them into true believers was the rodeo; they have been preaching the Cowtown gospel to their friends ever since. I can’t think of a better seal of approval than that. For more information, contact the rodeo at http://stockyardsrodeo.com/ or Toll-Free: 1-888-COWTOWN Metro: 817-625-1025 latinoleaders.com





MUST CONFESS that 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have even bothered to drink Mexican wine. The quality was bad, the offer was very limited and the blends and styles were non-existent. Today, the story is quite different. We have a wine industry that has improved greatly. Mexico has new entrepreneurs and winemakers venturing into different styles, new labels and new techniques. Currently there are big players that have greatly improved their wine production by investing in research. One can find little boutique-garage style wines that have demonstrated that there’s enough potential to produce first class wine. Some of my favorites are: Concierto from Concierto Enologico, Plata Pura, Boceto, Sierra Gorda from Vinedos La Redonda, Casa Madero, Casa Baloyan and of course the most iconic Icaro from the well known wine personality Jose Luis Duran and Duetto from the oldest winery in America: Vinedos Santo Tomas. These wines have great concentration and fruitiness, with elegant structures and powerful tannins. Unfortunately, all these are hard to find in the US, but look for them in your trips to Mexico.

“Today, the story is quite different. We have a wine industry that has improved greatly. Mexico has new entrepreneurs and winemakers venturing into different styles, new labels and new techniques.”

80 • October / November 2015


Voces 2009 Napa valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Sent by the winery for its review) Region: Napa Valley Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Price: $ 52. Aromas: Plum, currant, pepper Flavors: Cherry, tobacco, and cedar box Impression: Deep and Concentrated Structure: good body, firm tannins, powerful Drink with: Filet Mignon, New York Strip Why I loved this wine? Fantastic fruit and a hint of chocolate at the end My Rating: 93 pts.

Albert Mann Grand Cru Schlossberg Riesling 2011 (Got in a store in Bethesda, Maryland) Region: Alsace, France Varietal: Riesling Price: $ 49. Aromas: Mineral, flowers, crystalized fruit Flavors: Pear, buttery, pineapple Impression: Incredible flowery Structure: Medium body, round Drink with: Grilled Pork Chop, Veal Milanese Why I loved this wine? Beautifully crafted, silky and unforgettable My Rating: 97 pts.

Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Sauternes Grand Cru Classe 2011 (Brought by a friend to dinner) Region: Sauternes, Bordeaux, France Varietal: Semillon mainly Price: $ 39. (375 ml.) Aromas: Guava marmalade, peach, flowers Flavors: Orange caramel, honey Impression: Citric and delicious Structure: Great balance and body Drink with: Bleu Cheese, Meringue and red berries Napoleon Why I loved this wine? Golden perfect sweetness! My Rating: 92 pts.

Profile for Latino Leaders

Latino Leaders Magazine | Oct/Nov 2015  

Latino Leaders Magazine | Oct/Nov 2015