The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today inaugurated the symposium "The Futuro: Talks on the Road Ahead," an event taking place in the framework of various activities surrounding the celebrations to mark the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The meeting brought together at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution leaders of influential Latino organizations in the United States to discuss how Hispanics can increase their participation in civic life, and translate that engagement into policy outcomes.
The Secretary General welcomed the participants expressing the conviction that "this event will serve to strengthen the voice of the Latino community in the public arena in the United States and beyond." Midy Aponte, Executive Director of the American Latino Heritage Fund, Henry Muñoz, Executive Producer 2013 Latino Inaugural, and David Simas, of the White House, also took part in the opening of the symposium, held in the context of the celebrations for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The leader of the hemispheric organization recalled that the United States is the third country in the world in terms of the size of its Latino population, after Brazil and Mexico, and said there are many reasons for good relations between the United States and Latin America. "We have a balanced trade, much of U.S. investment goes to Latin America and, despite the problems that exist, the region has never had more democratic governments in all its history," he said.
"There are many factors that unite us," stressed the Secretary General. "The OAS is focused on democracy, human rights, development, and public safety, all issues important to the United States, and we want to work together to build this Latino community that will become more important every year," he concluded.
The Executive Director of the American Latino Heritage Fund, sponsor of the event, explained that her organization was created a year ago as part of the National Park Service of the United States in order to "immediately and strategically integrate and celebrate the cultural, economic and civic contributions of Latino communities in our American story."
For his part, Henry Muñoz stressed that the central message of the event is that "the election is over, it's time to get to work," referring to the November elections in which the President of the United States was re-elected. He explained that the objective of the symposium is to discuss issues of importance to the future of the country, including barriers and opportunities for the Latino community in the economy, Latinos and the media, immigration reform, education, and Latinos in positions of influence. All with the central aim of creating "a real conversation that leads to a call for action on behalf of our community," he added.
David Simas, who researches public opinion for the White House, said the recent re-election of Obama as President of the United States showed that "the Hispanic community is central to the aspirations of all future candidates." He explained that during his research for the campaign, he realized that what Latinos in the United States want is generally the same thing all citizens are looking for, and warned: “Don´t let anyone ever categorize the hispanic community as something other than an integral part of the long and fine tradition of the American dream.”
Various leaders of the Latino community in the United States took part in the event, including Congressmen Raul Ruiz, from California; Joe Garcia, from Florida; Luis Gutierrez from Illinois; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and the Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS, Ambassador Carmen Lomellin.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.