Publisher’s note: Wendy Guerra is a French-Cuban writer and a contributor to CNN en Español. Her articles have appeared in media around the world, such as El País, The New York Times, the Miami Herald, El Mundo and La Vanguardia. Among her most outstanding literary works are “Underwear” (2007), “I was never the first lady” (2008), “Posing naked in Havana” (2010) and “Everyone leaves” (2014). Her work has been published in 23 languages. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at cnne.com/opinion
(CNN Spanish) — The United States of America is a fertile territory, forged and sweated by migrants settled in the northern part of the American continent, who, upon reaching these lands, found a true paradise inhabited by indigenous peoples of North America, belonging to dozens of native ethnic groups. like Apaches, Sioux or Cheyenne among others, with very different customs, languages and lifestyles. Each State is the reflection of its founders, for whom any sacrifice has been little in their efforts to restart their lives, descending from ships with different origins and a suitcase full of memories, without a clear ideal of a nation, but with the certainty that it grants have a great second chance to realize their dreams. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is issued, proclaiming the right to free self-determination, establishing a cooperative union, the starting point in the creation of this great nation.
If you walk through a populous city like Miami, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, you will not be able to avoid hearing Hispanic words, jokes and names everywhere. The United States Census Bureau announced in 2020 that Hispanics reached the attractive figure of 62.1 million people. This is a growth of 23% since 2010, when this segment of the population was 50.5 million, six times more than in 1970.
This country looks more and more like us. For this reason, if you enter a supermarket in the big cities, you will see that tacos, tortilla chips or avocados do not belong only to a small or isolated shelf or section, but to the general food offer that the chain offers to its consumers. If you walk through the busiest avenues, you will discover exposed dresses for quinceañeras, charro hats, Mexican boots or vessels to drink mate. Black eyes, wide hips, curly hair, brown skin, smaller and tighter sizes, northern and Brazilian music, paisa tray, bono bread, alfajores, guava pastries, chimichurri, aguardiente, guayaberas and liquiliqui are already integrated into the playful world of a country that opens its doors to those who come to enrich it culturally and economically. Hispanics are currently the largest racial or ethnic group, surpassed only by non-Hispanic whites. In the future, Hispanics will continue to play an essential role in the demographics of this country and it is projected that by 2060, we will be 27% of the US population. That is to say: one in four people in the US will have Hispanic heritage.
Some of us leave our countries escaping suffocating political systems, plagued by vices, corruption and degeneration. Others flee economic crises, insecurity… or all of that together. We reach this shore hopeful, disoriented, persecuted and marked by long dictatorships that seem to have no tangible solution, we leave behind our families, homes and finally! We found the great opportunity and started from scratch. Gone are our rituals, legends and strongest links, but also realities vitiated by gangs, cartels or sects that suffocate societies that are unsuitable for seeing the new generations of Latin Americans grow up.
We got here with a heavy load of past. Each one of us could write a novel with the argument that we tell in our interview with the immigration agent who receives us.
Latinos have changed this country for the better. Costa Rican astronaut and physicist Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz, a US national, has been one of the scientists with the most NASA space missions, reaching a true record in the number of trips to space aboard space shuttles.
The Argentine developer and philanthropist of Cuban parents, my dear Jorge Pérez, has definitively transformed the architectural landscape of the city of Miami, creating useful and fantastic social spaces. His Cuban art collection recovers and establishes our cultural heritage within contemporary art. The film director and screenwriter Alejandro González Iñárritu –and also my friend–, born in Mexico City, a pillar of the so-called independent Hollywood cinema and with five Oscars, tells our stories with a new and unique cinematographic language. The American magistrate, jurist, politician, and professor Sonia Sotomayor, who holds the position of associate judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents and a true example for the women who arrived with the hope of contributing to the social development of the land that one day welcomed us with open arms.
Exiles can be traumatic and complex, but they serve as an inspiration to train and contribute talents in the scientific, sports, artistic and academic spheres, wherever the displaced go, wherever the most virtuous exiles settle, with their motivation and abilities to leave ahead a great country is forged. As of September 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the US, a celebration and tribute to those who bring with them, in their customs and in their blood, their Latin origin and culture. The date of this celebration was established in 1968, when then President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in September, in honor of the Hispanic heritage and the many national holidays of the countries located in the American continent. In 1988, the celebration was extended from September 15 to October 15, and there will come a time when our heritage will be celebrated year-round as our lives quickly become fused into the DNA of this nation.
We came to change our lives, to create, work, contribute, prosper or simply to live in a world of order, tranquility and coherence, but memory can be very short for some who sometimes break the rules by confusing the place they we left with the place to which we emigrated. I am my own silent watchman and I try to make each of my daily actions consistent with the immense generosity of the country that opened its doors to me.
Traffic is an example of transpolation of our endemic chaos to the structured American universe. Here the disrespect of some Hispanics for traffic laws, violence and disorder in the face of roads, is all too visible, as it contrasts with the attitude of implementing order and accurate compliance with its laws. On the other hand, we need to display our vocation for service, kindness and empathy, because, although it would not be coherent to generalize, we agree that we Latin Americans distinguish ourselves by entertaining and showering our visitors with attention. Although consumer mistreatment is sometimes evident around us, the lack of attention in hotels, luxury stores or restaurants, the noise, the excessively loud music, the shouting and rudeness, none of this should touch us, nor transform us, much less define ourselves as a culture.
Some entertainment programs broadcast by television channels dedicated to the Latino public neglect the use of Spanish, allowing blunders in the mouths of their presenters, symbols of our community. Spanish is a Romance language derived from Latin, as beautiful as it is complex, dominated in an exceptional way by Colombian, Mexican, Venezuelan, Argentine, Cuban, Uruguayan and Spanish drivers, journalists, reporters, analysts, writers and actors, among other nationalities of exiles. , some of them newcomers, or simply, without media presence. It would then be prudent to hire for the media in Spanish those who truly dominate our language. Thus, the new generations will assimilate it correctly, without mistakes or barbarism. Let us remember that the media function as obvious or subliminal educational patterns. Therefore, we must be aware that, by mistreating your original language, you betray the fundamental bases of your identity.
Although social identity is not the same as personal identity, we must be aware that each gesture that we amplify on a daily basis labels us culturally, distinguishes us as a social group, and beyond our “I” is that “we” that touches us. defend as identity. We have before our eyes a new life, what you build on it will be your life’s work. Social inclusion is not only a right, it is also a duty, and it largely depends on our daily attitudes.
A nation that opens its doors to thousands of Latin American emigrants also does so with the hope that Hispanic pride flourishes in each one of us, that renewed and ingenious founder who continues to transform this great country for the better.
The question is obvious: Do we leave behind our hells to contribute with unwise actions to that place that one day we define as paradise?