Letter to City of Gaithersburg

I am humbled by your invitation and designation as one of three Hispanics to be honored on September 7th, 2010 at Gaithersburg’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration along with Justice Sonia Sotomayor and NASA Astronaut Jose M. Hernandez for such a historic celebration.

As a member of the Hispanic Community, I congratulate Mayor Sydney A. Katz for proclaiming the Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th through October 15th: “Walk down memory lane, Hispanics making History”

America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their origins to many Spanish-speaking nations. We celebrate that our Nation is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. We celebrate the numerous achievements and contributions of Hispanics in the U. S.

The Hispanic Ethnic Group concept was created on May, 1977 and was defined as a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, and who share a common “Spanish Culture”.

Hispanics derive from twenty-six nations that differ in linguistic expressions, economic resources, educational systems and customs. Hispanics are culturally diverse. Although Latinos may hold much in common, common traits are rarely universal, yet a Spanish accent would be a sufficient social marker.  All too often, Latinos have had to confront stereotyping, discrimination and oppression from the moment they first step on US soil.

When we take a look at the Hispanic population in the US, we should be aware that 45.5 million are Hispanics, the largest ethnic or race minority in the Nation. Only Mexico, with 108.7 million, had a larger Hispanic population than did the United States in 2007.  It has been projected that the Hispanic population of the US in 2050 will be 102 million, 24% of the nation’s population.

Education is crucial for everyone in our Nation. In 2007, 60% of Hispanics 25 years old and older had at least a high school education, and 3.3 million attained a Bachelor’s degree or higher education. It is significant that 811,000 Hispanics 25 and older have advanced degrees, like Masters’, Professional, or Doctorates.

Hispanics owned 2.3 million non-farm U.S. businesses in 2007, an increase of 43.6 percent from 2002 in 2007, including over 25,000 Hispanic owned businesses in Maryland. Hispanic-owned businesses accounted for 10.4 percent of all U.S. businesses. Wholesale trade, retail trade and construction accounted for 50.7 percent of Hispanic-owned business revenue.

However, unemployment among Hispanics in the U.S. has soared since the recession hit because those workers are disproportionately employed in industries and regions hardest hit by the downturn, according to a congressional report. It is not a surprise that Latinos account for about one-seventh of the U.S. labor force, but comprise nearly one-fifth of the unemployed.

As far as Puerto Ricans are concerned, allow me a very personal opinion about our role and our future.  Puerto Ricans are US Citizens and Puerto Rico is a US territory where the US Constitution and all federal laws apply as if Puerto Rico were a State. However, Puerto Rico can not elect a Congressional representation and can not vote for the US President. It is my hope, that some day, soon, they may have the same rights that other American citizens do. Puerto Rico should become the 51st State of the Union.

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