Taking a Look at America's 101 Most Influential Latinos

Alejandro Chafuen | October 30, 2014 | 1:24pm EDT
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Latino Leaders magazine hosted an event in Washington D.C. this week, launching their ranking of the 101 most influential Latinos in the United States. Since the year 2000, the magazine has had as its mission to promote and publish “stories of Latino success…stories often missed by the mainstream media.”

Among the 101 Latinos and Latinas highlighted, we find familiar faces from show business, such as Eva Longoria, Jennifer López, Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Estéfan and Shakira. Unlike other efforts with Latinos, however, this one does not discriminate against conservatives. It would be hard to hide the accomplishments of Texas’ Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio or New Mexico Governor Susana Martínez. The publication also highlights the up and coming George P. Bush. As expected, politicians and partisans aligned with the Democratic Party, such as Congressman Luís Gutiérrez and Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar, also figure prominently on the list.

Accomplished business leaders such as Sol Trujillo and Linda Alvarado (co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team) attended the event. César Conde (Executive Vice President of NBCUniversal) and Mario Longhi, now CEO at U.S. Steel, but with a long and highly successful career at Gerdau Group in Brazil, also made the list.

The presentations during the event, held at The Willard Hotel, focused mostly on the strength and size of the Hispanic community in the U.S. Trujillo pointed to numbers which put Latinos in the U.S. as one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic and demographic groups. The U.S. Hispanic population is growing faster than the population of any of the BRIC (Brazil, Russian India and China) countries.

As a business leader, Trujillo recommended that for external communication, the strategy of Latinos should focus on branding and focusing on the positive. Granted. But what was missing at this event, for internal communication, is any acknowledgement of what Latinos can do to become better integrated. Most of the focus was on the barriers that still prevent people with funny accents like me, to rise to even higher positions. I grant that there are still barriers, I previously wrote a related piece “Latinos want Salsa and we give them Ketchup” recommending better efforts to reach Latinos. But I do not think it was positive that during the Latino Leaders event not a single word was devoted to some of the current weaknesses of the very diverse Latino community.

Although I was never a Mexican, given my role as president of the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research during the presidency of Vicente Fox, I had the privilege of being appointed a member of the Instituto de Mexicanos en el Exterior (Institute of Mexicans Abroad). I wish someone could prove me wrong, but during my tenure I received almost daily emails with calls for action. I do not recall a single email encouraging Mexican immigrants to learn from the Founding Fathers of the United States the great traditions that made possible the American dream. They focused instead on making demands of the state, rather than responsibility from below.

The future success of the Latino community in the United States will depend significantly on the extent to which Latinos cultivate the virtues and practices of many who made the Latino Leaders’ list. But it will also depend on the extent to which this growing segment of the country’s population fully understands and promotes the principles of a free society which undergird the nation which has been such a powerful magnet - and become such a welcome home - to so many of us.

Dr. Alejandro Chafuen is President of the Atlas Network, and President and Founder of the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research (

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