The first thing that I did when I arrived to Saint Paul on Friday August 8th for attending to the WPI Fellowship was turning on the TV to see what was on the news. I spent almost a day travelling from Caracas to Minnesota through the border with Colombia and had no clue about what had happened in my country and around the world in those long hours.
ISIS and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians were breaking news at the moment while thousands of young boys from Central America were trying to cross the US border alone, pulled by the trigger of death threat imposed by violent urban gangs. I didn’t find an anchor that mentioned the event for at least 30 seconds. The child-migrant crisis was not news for the US broadcasting media. The day after, on Saturday 9th, Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson so the Central American kids’ drama faded from written media outlets as well.
In Miami the fellows achieved to have a quick overview on how significant the Latin community is in the US. During the visit to Univision headquarter we found out that the Spanish-language network set a milestone last year by having the largest audience in the country with 1.8 million viewers, topping the biggest English speaking clusters such as Fox, NBC and CBS.
In politics, for instance, Hispanic vote is critical in swing states such as Ohio and Florida, where candidates should address the specific interests of Mexican or Cuban communities on issues such as the immigration reform or the embargo against Fidel and Raúl Castro regime. The Pew Research Center, the most renowned “fact tank” that tracks trends shaping the US, developed a Hispanic branch especially focused on analyzing Latinos’ needs, values and interests. It forecasts that Hispanic electorate will double in size by 2030, accounting for 40% of the growth in the eligible electorate in the U.S. In 2030, 40 million Latinos will be eligible to vote, up from 23.7 million in 2012. Aging, naturalization and immigration head the list of reasons that explain this growth.
Moreover, the Pew Hispanic Center points out that for the first time in 20 years immigrants do not account for the majority of Hispanic workers in the US because most of the job gains made by Latinos during the economic recovery from the recession of 2007-09 have gone to U.S.-born workers.
If Pulitzer prize co-winner Andrés Oppenheimer, who we met in the Miami Herald newsroom, turns out to be right and Democrats and Republicans postulate Hispanic candidates for becoming Vice President, Latinos might not only be the muscle but also the head that promotes structural changes in the future of the US.