In Search of Paradise (Opinion by Wendy Guerra)

Editor’s note: Wendy Guerra is a Franco-Cuban writer and contributor to CNN en Español. His 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 his most notable literary works are “Underwear” (2007), “I was never the first lady” (2008), “Posing naked in Havana” (2010) and “Everyone leaves” (2014). His work has been published in 23 languages. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at cnne.com/opinion

(Spanish CNN) — The United States of America is a fertile territory, forged and transpired by migrants who settled in the northern part of the American continent, who, on reaching these lands, found a real paradise inhabited by indigenous peoples of North America, belonging to dozens of indigenous ethnic groups. like the Apaches, the Sioux or the Cheyenne among others, with very different customs, languages ​​and ways of life. Each state is a reflection of its founders, for whom little sacrifice was made in their efforts to restart their lives, descending from ships of different origins and a suitcase full of memories, without a clear ideal of a nation, but with the certainty that he grants a great second chance to make their dreams come true. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was published, proclaiming the right to free self-determination, establishing a cooperative union, the starting point for the creation of this great nation.

If you walk around a populated city like Miami, New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, you won’t be able to avoid hearing Hispanic words, jokes, and names everywhere. The United States Census Bureau announced in 2020 that Hispanics had 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 walk into a supermarket in large cities, you will see that tacos, tortilla chips or avocados do not just belong on a small shelf or in an isolated section, but in the general food offer that the chain offers to its consumers. . If you walk along the busiest avenues, you will discover dresses on display for quinceañeras, charro hats, Mexican boots or mate drinking vases. Dark eyes, wide hips, curly hair, brown skin, smaller and tighter waists, Nordic and Brazilian music, paisa platter, bono bread, alfajores, guava pastries, chimichurri, aguardiente, guayaberas and liquili which are already integrated into the playful universe of a country which 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. Going forward, Hispanics will continue to play a vital role in the demographics of this country and it is predicted that by 2060 we will be 27% of the American population. That is, one in four people in the United States will have Hispanic heritage.

Some of us leave our countries fleeing stifling political systems, plagued by vices, corruption and degeneration. Others are fleeing economic crises, insecurity… or all of that together. We arrive on this shore full of hope, disoriented, persecuted and or marked by long dictatorships that seem to have no tangible solution, we leave behind our families, our homes and finally! We found the great opportunity and started from scratch. Gone are our rituals, our legends and our strongest ties, but also realities vitiated by gangs, cartels or sects that suffocate societies unable to see new generations of Latin Americans grow.

We came here with a heavy load of history. Each of us could write a novel with the argument that we relate in our interview with the immigration officer who receives us.

Latinos have changed this country for the better. Costa Rican astronaut and physicist Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz, an American national, was one of the scientists who carried out the most NASA space missions, reaching a real record for the number of space trips on board shuttles spatial.

Argentinian developer and philanthropist of Cuban parents, my dear Jorge Pérez, has forever transformed the architectural landscape of the city of Miami, creating useful and fantastic social spaces. Its Cuban art collection recovers and establishes our cultural heritage in contemporary art. Director and screenwriter Alejandro González Iñárritu –and also my friend–, born in Mexico City, pillar of so-called independent Hollywood cinema and with five Oscars, tells our stories with a new and unique cinematic language. American magistrate, jurist, politician and professor Sonia Sotomayor, who serves as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents and a true role model for women who have come to contribute to the social development of the territory which one day welcomed us with open arms.

Exiles can be traumatic and complex, but they serve as an inspiration to train and bring talents in the scientific, sporting, artistic and academic fields, wherever the displaced go, wherever the most virtuous exiles settle, with their motivation and their ability to leave behind a great country is forged. Beginning September 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, a celebration and tribute to those who bring with them, in their customs and blood, their Latin origin and culture. The date of this celebration was established in 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in September, in honor of Hispanic heritage and the many national holidays of countries located on 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 merge with the DNA of this nation.

We have come to change our lives, to create, to work, to contribute, to prosper or to simply 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 that ‘we left with the place where we emigrated. I am my own silent watcher and I try to put each of my daily actions in line with the immense generosity of the country which opened its doors to me.

Traffic is an example of transpolation from our endemic chaos to the structured American universe. Here, the lack of respect of some Hispanics for the rules of the road, the violence and the disorder facing the roads, is only too visible, as it contrasts with the attitude of execution of order and scrupulous respect of its laws. On the other hand, we must display our vocation of service, kindness and empathy, because, although it would not be consistent to generalize, we agree that we Latin Americans distinguish ourselves by entertaining and by showering our visitors with attention. Although consumer abuse is sometimes evident around us, lack of attention in hotels, luxury stores or restaurants, noise, loud music, shouting and rudeness, none of this must touch us, nor transform us, much less define us 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, exceptionally dominated by presenters, journalists, reporters, analysts, writers and actors from Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay and Spain, among other nationalities. . of exiles. , some of them newcomers, or quite simply, without media presence. It would then be prudent to hire for the media in Spanish those who really dominate our language. Thus, the new generations will assimilate it correctly, without error or barbarism. Let us remember that the media function as obvious or subliminal educational schemas. Therefore, we must be aware that by mistreating your native language, you are betraying the fundamental bases of your identity.

Although social identity is not the same thing as personal identity, we must be aware that each gesture that we amplify on a daily basis marks us culturally, distinguishes us as a social group, and beyond our “I “, it is this “we” that touches us. to defend as an identity. We have before our eyes a new life, what you will build there will be your life’s work. Social inclusion is not only a right, it is also a duty, and much of this 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 will flourish in all of us, that renewed and resourceful founder who continues to transform this great country for the better.

The question is obvious: do some leave our hells to contribute evil deeds to what we will one day define as paradise?

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