He’s dressed in an elegant black tuxedo, projecting the refined charisma expected of a Hollywood leading man. Underneath the glamour, one can still discern the picaresque smile of his other self, the one that millions in Mexico and Latin America have come to know so well; the everyday man of the pueblo; the underdog who at the end of the story prevails over the powerful; the fast-talking pelado who could talk his way out of any kerfuffle by saying a lot without saying anything: Cantinflas.
As this nostalgic video clip of the 1956 “Around the World in 80 Days” premiere attests, Cantinflas shone among Hollywood’s top stars in a luxurious soirée fit for a film that became a box-office hit and received eight Academy Awards. If you’re a Mexican Golden Age film connoisseur, you will immediately spot Fortino Mario Moreno Reyes in two or three shots. These seconds of film captured more than a historic moment. They captured a powerful statement quietly made by the movie star on behalf of the Mexican-American community, one that resonates today.
Billed as one of the top actors in the all-star “Around the World” ensemble that included David Niven and Marlene Dietrich (and a spectacular cameo by Frank Sinatra), Cantinflas stepped back into the spotlight at the 1957 Golden Globe Awards. Of note, the Mexico City native nabbed the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy. Loved by millions of fans in Mexico and Latin America who loved him for iconic films such as “Ahí está el detalle” and the political satire “Si yo fuera diputado,” Cantinflas became the first Mexican to win a Golden Globe years before the Del Toros, Iñárritus and Hayeks graced Hollywood with their talent. His victory was a significant step that carved a pathway for generations of Latino film and television artists in Hollywood.
If we broaden the scope of his accomplishment to include the historical context during which it happened, his victory is transformed from a milestone into a powerful symbol of pride for a community that suffered civil rights violations for decades. The Mexican-American community was also under direct attack in 1954 by politicians who decided to execute the infamous ‘Operation Wetback’ to deport millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. During his big night at the 1957 Golden Globe Awards, Cantinflas, the activist, the philanthropist, the satirist, and defender of the downtrodden, outwitted those who sought to oppress his people. Those who erroneously believed that Mexicans and Hispanics were second-class citizens who did not deserve to stay in this country, scapegoats for imagined fears, likely witnessed Fortino Mario Moreno Reyes, who was born and raised in Mexico City, receive a top Hollywood award for his talent and genius.
Cantinflas’ triumph in the United States is an inspiration that transcends time. We are still fighting against anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric and against policies that oust us from a nation to which we have contributed our work, our talent, and our dreams. The beauty of this historical parallel is that we are all Cantinflas. Every day with our hard work we outsmart those who seek to marginalize us. ¿Cómo la ven desde ahi?
Washington, D.C. – Latino Victory today announced its new Board of Directors and National Committee, which will guide the organization through the 2018 election cycle. This is the first leadership class since the organization announced it would exclusively focus on progressive candidates. To that end, Latino Victory has assembled a team of experienced leaders and activists to push back against the Trump Administration and mobilize voters behind Latino candidates.
New York political consultant Luis A. Miranda, Jr. and philanthropist Kyle Ferari were elected to serve on the board for the first time. New members of the National Committee include political commentator and author Julissa Arce, actress and activist Ana Ortiz, California political operative Cecilia Cabello, and prominent attorney Regina Montoya.
“These men and women embody the values of Latino Victory and will be partners in our mission to grow our community’s political power,” said Leopoldo Martínez, Chairman of Latino Victory. “Together, we will work to support progressive Latino candidates across the country and change the future of government in America.”
“At this pivotal moment, Latinos must lead the charge of protecting our democracy and hard-fought rights from the Trump Administration’s constant attacks,” said veteran political strategist Luis A. Miranda, Jr. “By developing and electing a new generation of Latino leaders, we can build our community’s political power and safeguard against the dangerous, anti-Latino agenda that has plagued American politics. I look forward to working with my fellow board members, the national committee, and staff of Latino Victory to strengthen our representation at all levels of government.”
“The Latinx community makes up nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population, yet it remains underrepresented in elected offices. This means Latinxs are often left out of the political decisions that affect their lives,” said philanthropist Kyle Ferari. “I’m proud to join Latino Victory’s efforts to ensure that the community always has a seat at the table.”
A former special advisor and chairman under three New York City mayors, Luis A. Miranda, Jr. brings nearly four decades of leadership experience in the public and private sectors. In 2000, Miranda co-founded the MirRam Group, which played a key role in the successful Senate campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. He currently serves as the Chairman of ¡Viva Broadway!, which aims to increase awareness of Broadway theatre in the Latino community.
Kyle Ferari is a millennial philanthropist and activist based in San Antonio, Texas. Informed by his experience growing up as the only openly gay individual in his rural Pennsylvania hometown, Ferari is deeply passionate about social justice, minority representation, and LGBTQ rights. He credits his years working in outward-facing roles in the beauty and wine industries for helping him navigate politics and relationship building. In the last election, Ferari was a member of the National Finance Committee for Hillary for America and the Democratic National Committee’s Texas Victory Leaders Council.
Latino Victory’s Board of Directors are thought partners who steer the organization towards its mission of building Latino political power. During their three-year terms, board members play a key role in Latino Victory’s candidate endorsement selection process. A full list of the Board of Directors is available here.
“Progressive Latinos are on the front lines of the resistance against President Trump’s dangerous policies and rhetoric,” said activist Julissa Arce. “We must continue to increase our representation to ensure our interests – and those of other vulnerable groups – are respected and prioritized. I’m honored to join Latino Victory in this endeavor.”
“When I was twelve years old, my father became the first Latino elected to the Philadelphia City Council. We’ve had significant gains since then, but Latinos are still underrepresented in local, state, and federal government,” actress and activist Ana Ortiz said. “I’m honored to help continue the work that trailblazers like my father began decades ago.”
“As we prepare to grow Latino political power in 2018 and 2020, we must invest in a bench of Latino progressives to run for elected office,” said Cecilia Cabello, Chief of Staff to the Los Angeles’ City Controller. “I’m excited to work with my fellow committee members to identify and develop this new candidate class.”
“Over a decade ago, Latinos became the largest minority in the United States. Yet, our community continues to experience high rates of poverty and significant barriers to access health care and higher education. Trump or no Trump, Latinos need advocates across our government,” said attorney Regina Montoya. “As a member of Latino Victory’s national committee, I will help make sure we elect candidates committed to breaking down these barriers and leveling the playing field for all Americans.”
Julissa Arce is a political commentator, immigration activist, and author of My (Underground) American Dream. After a successful career on Wall Street, Arce garnered national attention when she came out as a formerly undocumented immigrant. Since then, she’s used her story to humanize the immigration debate and co-founded a scholarship fund for undocumented students.
Ana Ortiz is an actress and singer best known for playing Hilda Suarez in ABC’s groundbreaking comedy Ugly Betty. A dedicated activist, Ortiz uses her voice to raise awareness about domestic abuse and LGBT rights.
Cecilia Cabello serves as Chief of Staff to Los Angeles’ Controller Ron Galperin. She previously worked as California State Director for Hillary for America and Director of Intergovernmental Relations for Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti, where she played a key role in advancing critical legislation and securing billions of dollars in infrastructure funding.
Regina Montoya is a nationally-recognized attorney and former television commentator. Montoya serves as Chief Strategist for JMC Strategy Group, and she is writing a book about the importance of incorporating Latinos into America’s economic, political and social fabric.
Latino Victory relies on its National Committee to identify possible candidates, provide expertise on regional policy and electoral development, and amplify Latino Victory’s message and efforts. A full list of the National Committee is available here.
Washington, D.C.—Cristóbal J. Alex, presidente de Latino Victory Fund, hizo las siguientes declaraciones en respuesta al intento del supremacista blanco y ex Imperial Wizard del Ku Klux Klan David Duke de silenciar a nuestra comunidad:
“La contienda electoral en el distrito 34 de California para el Congreso representa el futuro por el que estamos trabajando: una contienda competitiva donde latinos progresistas estan trabajan para que nuestra comunidad salga a votar. La idea de incrementar la representación latina en el gobierno es la peor pesadilla de Steva Bannon, Steve King y David Duke.
“Mientras que hemos decidido no apoyar a ningún candidato en esta contienda, es importante que defendamos a nuestra comunidad cada vez que nos ataquen los supremacistas blancos. Sabemos que es difícil lanzar una candidatura siendo mujer, y sabemos que es aún más difícil siendo latina, siendo activista y siendo una persona que alguna vez fue indocumentada. Sigue compartiendo tu historia y sigue adelante sin complejo alguno. Estamos contigo, Wendy.”
Washington DC — Cristóbal J. Alex, President of the Latino Victory Fund, issued the following statement in response to white supremacist and former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke’s attempt to silence our community:
“The electoral race for California’s 34th congressional district represents the future that we are working towards: a competitive field of progressive Latinos working to get our communities to the polls. The idea of more Latinos in office representing our community is Steve Bannon, Steve King, and David Duke’s worst nightmare.
“While we have chosen not to endorse a candidate in this race, it’s important that we stand up for one of our own when they are attacked by white supremacists. We know that it is hard enough to run for office as a woman, and we know that it is even harder as a Latina, an activist, and a formerly undocumented person. Keep sharing your story and keep being unapologetic. We got your back, Wendy.”
Washington, D.C. — Cristóbal J. Alex, presidente de Latino Victory Fund, hizo las siguientes declaraciones en respondiendo al primer presupuesto de Trump:
“El presupuesto de Trump es inmoral. En lugar de invertir en soluciones de largo plazo para los retos más urgentes de nuestro país, su presupuesto da prioridad a contratistas militares millonarios y asigna $4.5 mil millones de dólares para su muro fronterizo y su fuerza de deportación. El presupuesto de Trump castiga a las familias latinas de bajos recursos alrededor del país quienes dependen de programas como el programa de fondos para desarrollo comunitario, programas de vivienda asequible, y asistencia para alquilar viviendas. Su plan también castiga a los latinos quienes buscan convertirse en dueños de su primera casa, previniendo que construyan vidas con sustentabilidad económica para sus familias.
“Hoy podemos confirmar que Trump mintió a sus seguidores cuando les prometió que reconstruiría la clase media. Su presupuesto elimina programas importantes diseñados para proveer movilidad y seguridad social como Meals on Wheels, LegalAid, asistencia de vivienda para veteranos, asistencia de calefacción en viviendas, programas para ayudar a estudiantes con sus gastos de inscripción por medio de empleos, y programas de entrenamientos de empleo diseñados para ayudar a familias, solo para nombrar a algunos. Le pedimos a nuestros representantes que luchen por las familas latinas y que nos defiendan frente al daño que Trump propone institucionalizar.”
Washington DC — Cristóbal J. Alex, President of the Latino Victory Fund, issued the following statement in response to Trump’s first budget proposal:
“Donald Trump’s proposed budget is immoral. Rather than investing in long-term solutions to take on our country’s most urgent challenges, his budget prioritizes wealthy military contractors and allocates $4.5 billion dollars for his infamous border wall and his deportation force. Trump’s budget proposal punishes low-income Latino families all across the country who rely on the Community Development Block Grant Program and affordable housing and rental assistance. His plan also punishes Latinos looking to become first-time home buyers, preventing them from building economically sustainable lives for their families.
“Now we can confirm that Trump vigorously lied to his supporters when he promised to help rebuild the middle class. His budget proposal cuts important programs designed to provide upward mobility and security like Meals on Wheels, LegalAid, housing assistance for veterans, heating assistance programs, work-study programs, and job training programs designed to help families, just to name a few. We urge our elected officials to stand up for Latino working families and defend us against the damage Trump is proposing to institutionalize.”