Journalist Diego Graglia has been documenting the lives of Latinos during this presidential election year. He recently traveled from New York City to Mexico City, stopping along the way to talk to Latinos in small towns and big cities about the issues that matter to them. For more on La Ruta del Voto Latino/The Road to the Latino Vote visit www.newyorktomexico.com.
New Orleans was Hispanic before being American, as street signs remind you in the French Quarter. Bourbon Street, no less, was named over two centuries ago after the royal family -last name Borbón- that still reigns over Spain.
Three years ago, after Hurricane Katrina, Latino workers poured into the city to help with clean up and rebuilding. But Hispanic Americans were in New Orleans long before that demographic explosion. The sense I got from talking to Latinos who’ve been there for many years, though, was that there was no real Latino community to speak of: no civic or cultural organizations, no newspapers, only one store where you could buy Latin American groceries!
“Before, we used to have one supermarket, two restaurants, the Honduran consulate, and that’s it,” says American-born Diane Schnell, the daughter of Honduran parents, who grew up in the city. “Now there’s ten or twelve supermarkets and the stores have tripled and quadrupled. There’s a Mexican consulate too.”