About one in eight people in Colorado Springs are Latino. But in a typical week, the community they comprise finds itself just a bit player in the local news. How come?
What's the central characteristic of the local Hispanic community? Everything they do centers around family, and it's not just mom and dad and the kids. It extends to uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents. They celebrate every holiday and occasion with the entire extended family.
Identify the biggest issue facing Hispanic culture. The same as with everyone everywhere else — taking care of yourself and your family, jobs, being able to pay your bills.
Can you name any local Latino leaders? In Pueblo I can name Anthony Nuñez and Gilbert Ortiz. We had a well-known Hispanic school principal for a while, but she's moving.
Will the Sonia Sotomayor nomination as Supreme Court justice impact Hispanic culture? She's a role model who demonstrates to Hispanics that they can be leaders in government and politics.
Why are the Hispanic communities in Denver and Pueblo more active and vocal than the one in Colorado Springs? I'd have to say apathy. The Hispanic community isn't as cohesive here. There are fewer events to bring them together.
What, locally, most characterizes the Hispanic community for you? Cinco de Mayo.
Name the biggest issue facing local Hispanics. Getting more involved, making their voices heard, being proud of their heritage.
Can you name any Latino civic leaders in Colorado Springs? Mayor Lionel Rivera. For a while, we had an Hispanic police chief, Lou Velez, and an Hispanic fire chief, Manuel Navarro.
Why are the Hispanic communities in Denver and Pueblo more active and vocal than the one in Colorado Springs? Denver and Pueblo have more community centers and organizations like [Servicios de] la Raza that support Latino activism.
What, to you, most exemplifies the Hispanic community? Family unity. No matter how things go economically or otherwise, they stick together and support each other.
What's the biggest issue facing local Hispanics? Education, especially for the [English as a Second Language] community. They need to up their graduation rates.
Will Sotomayor's nomination affect Hispanics? It will similarly to the way Barack Obama's candidacy provoked an outpouring of pride and activism in the black community.