From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is commemorated, celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose
ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period, renamed National Hispanic Heritage Month.
As we honor Latino culture this month, we should reflect on what makes Latinos such a strong contributing force in America. Latinos across America have made countless positive contributions to our military, education, the arts, the economy, and the social fabric which makes our nation unique.
With over 50 million Latinos across the United States, Latinos now make up the largest minority group and represent more than $1 trillion in buying power. Latinos also represent the fastest growing segment of the American electorate.
In Arizona, Raul Castro served as our first Latino governor in the 1970s. In 1991, Ed
Pastor was the first Latino elected to represent Arizona in the U.S. Congress; today
there are two Latinos in Congress: Pastor and Raul Grijalva. In a few years we have an
opportunity to send our first Latino U.S. Senator to Washington.
In Tucson and Pima County, Latinos have sent a strong message by turning out to vote
and leading the state in the number of Latinos that have been elected to governing
bodies such as the state Legislature, Pima County government, Tucson city government, local school districts and Pima Community College’s Governing Board.
The U.S. Census showed the Latino community grew by four times the national
average, accounting for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four
times the nation’s 9.7 percent growth rate.
As we increase our population, we need to continue to increase our participation at
the polls. In Tucson, during the 2013 election, which was conducted in an all vote-bymail process, turnout still continued to increase in the South and West sides, where a majority of the Latino community resides.
According to the most recent DATOS report, Arizona foreign exports in 2013 totaled $19.4 billion. The state’s largest trading partner was Mexico – $7.1 billion, representing 36.6 percent of the total.
During this Hispanic Heritage Month, let us reflect on where we have been but not lose sight on where we still need to go. President John F. Kennedy stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. The best thing we can do for our country is to register and vote. In Arizona, the deadline to register to vote for the 2014 General Election is Monday, October 6. For more information, go online to azsos.gov.
Richard G. Fimbres
Councilmember – Tucson (Ward 5)