This Hispanic community has slowly started becoming the largest minority race in the United States, but the influence of this demographic is felt the world over. The past few decades have brought us some amazing leaders that have helped others create or do amazing things for their community, their country, and the world at large. Here are some famous Latino leaders that you should know about.
1. Junipero Serra
Maybe the least known Latino leader on this list, Serra was a missionary to immigrated to California to serve as a Franciscan friar in the middle of the 18th century. From San Francisco to San Diego, he opened up over 20 missions and his architectural influences are still used today, even in modern buildings. His greatest achievement for the region, however, was to bring crops to the area that could thrive, including grapes, figs, and olives that are used as the backbone of the state’s industry today.
2. Nydia Velazquez
Velazquez came from a very active political family and the causes that her family fought for while growing up were immense. From working conditions to better wages for everyone, including those who were working in the sugar cane fields, she spent most of her teen years in the political arena than the high school classroom. She eventually earned a degree in political science from New York University in 1992 and became the first woman born in Puerto Rico to serve in the US Congress.
3. Maurice Ferre
Ferre became the first Hispanic mayor of a major city in the United States in 1973. This happened after a long career of preparation that included being a state representative and serving as the Commissioner of Miami. Ferre had always had a dream of becoming part of the political system because he knew that he needed to be the change that people saw in the world. He served as mayor of Miami until 1985 and was one of the region’s most prominent Democrats during that period of time.
4. Cesar Chavez
Chavez might just be the most known Latino leader in the world today. He supported the American labor movement, but he didn’t support a violent clash against employers to affect change. Taking inspiration from figures like Gandhi, he worked to create a union that would fight for better pay and working conditions through logic and knowledge instead of using guns. The efforts of Chavez and his supporters immediately improved the lives of those workers and his influence is still felt today.
5. Pablo Escobar
Even though he was a drug lord in Colombia, he was considered one of the richest men in the world. At one point, Forbes magazine named him the 7th richest man in the world. When his cartel was clicking on all cylinders, he was easily the most powerful man in his country. His empire was able to stretch around the world because of his direct support of his country’s poor. Escobar was often viewed as taking from the rich to provide for the poor, so many even today still consider him to be a modern day Robin Hood