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Nuestra Gente

Celebrating Hispanic culture and history September 15th through October 15th, 2023

María Elena Salinas

Place & Date of Birth: Los Angeles, CA | December 30, 1954

María Elena Salinas, is an American broadcast journalist, news anchor, and author. Called the “Voice of Hispanic America” by The New York Times, Salinas is one of the most recognized Hispanic female journalists in the United States. She was the co-anchor of Noticiero Univision, the primary evening news broadcast on Univision, and the co-host of the news magazine program Aquí y Ahora (Here and Now).

Salinas has been working for more than three decades in the U.S. and in 18 Latin American countries. She has interviewed Latin American heads of state, rebel leaders, dictators, and every United States president since Jimmy Carter.

Salinas began as a reporter, anchor and public-affairs host for KMEX-TV, the Univision affiliate in Los Angeles, in 1981. She became the anchor of the national Spanish-language news program Noticiero Univision in 1987.

She has interviewed figures such as former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama; Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega; and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation spokesman Subcomandante Marcos. She has also interviewed celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan.

Salinas was among the first female journalists in wartime Baghdad. She herself has been interviewed by Katie Couric, Bill Moyers, and others.

Pedro Pascal

Place & Date of Birth: Santiago, Chile | April 2, 1975

José Pedro Balmaceda Pascal is a Chilean and American actor. After nearly two decades of taking small roles in film and television, Pascal rose to prominence for portraying Oberyn Martell in the fourth season of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones and Javier Peña in the Netflix crime series Narcos.

Since 2019, Pascal has starred as the title character in the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian and again in The Book of Boba Fett (2022). Since 2023, he has played Joel Miller in the HBO drama series The Last of Us, for which he received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2023.

Juan Gabriel bio pic

Juan Gabriel

Place & Date of Birth: Parácuaro, Michoacán, Mexico | January 7, 1950

Colloquially nicknamed Juanga and El Divo de Juárez, Juan Gabriel was known for his flamboyant style, which broke barriers within the Latin music industry. Widely regarded as one of the best and most prolific Mexican composers and singers of all time, he is often been referred to as a pop icon.

Along with legends such as José Alfredo Jiménez, José José, Joan Sebastian, Juan Gabriel is considered as one of the composers who renewed the Mexican song in all its forms and styles (ranchera, corridos, bolero, balada, etc.)

Because of the difficult family situation, Gabriel from age five through 13 lived at a boarding school, which to him was little more than an orphanage, and he turned to his music to elevate his spirits and to temper his loneliness.

Through his career he made 32 records, sold over 30 million albums, and wrote over 1,800 songs. Gabriel produced other artists and many artists covered his songs. He was a tremendously influential Latin artist across the Americas.

Diego Luna

Diego Luna

Place & Date of Birth: Toluca, Mexico | December 29, 1979

Diego is a successful Mexican actor, singer, director, and producer. Early in his career, he made several appearances in telenovelas and has earned many accolades along his career. He is now more recently known for starring in films such as Star Wars: Rogue One and being the main star of his own Star Wars spin-off series, Andor. 

Gloria Estefan Portrait

Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García

Place & Date of Birth: Havana, Cuba |  September 1,1957 

Gloria Estefan is a Cuban American singer, actress, and businesswoman. In March 1990, Estefan sustained a life-threatening cervical vertebrae fracture when her tour bus was involved in a serious accident near Scranton, Pennsylvania. She underwent an emergency surgical stabilization of her cervical spine and post-surgical rehabilitation that lasted almost a year but made a full recovery. Estefan is now a seven-time Grammy Award winner, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and has been named one of the Top 100 greatest artists of all time by both VH1 and Billboard. Estefan’s record sales exceed 75 million worldwide, making her the second best-selling female Latin artist in history and one of the best-selling female singers of all-time.

Desi Arnaz Hispanic Heritage Spotlight

Desi Arnaz

Place & Date of Birth: Santiago, Cuba |  March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986 

Desi Arnaz (Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y De Acha) was a Cuban-born actor and musician who is remembered for his marriage to Lucille Ball and their TV show, ‘I Love Lucy.’ 

Born to a wealthy family, the Arnazes fled Cuba for Miami after a revolution in 1933. After working several odd jobs to help support his family, Arnaz debuted his own band in Miami Beach in December 1937. 

The young orchestra leader then landed a part in the movie Too Many Girls where he met acress Lucille Ball.  In 1940, the two married, and in 1948 formed Desilu Productions to coordinate their various stage, screen, and radio activities.   

The first episode of I Love Lucy aired on October 15, 1951.  There are 181 episodes total.  The show was nominated for 21 Emmy Awards and won 5 times. 

Arnaz passed away from cancer in 1986 at the age of 69. 


Sonia Maria Sotomayor 

Place & Date of Birth: New York City, New York – June 25, 1954 

Sonia Sotomayor became the youngest judge in the Southern District and the first Hispanic federal judge in New York State. She became the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in a U.S. federal court. She has been identified with concern for the rights of defendants, calls for reform of the criminal justice system, and making impassioned dissents on issues of race, gender, and ethnic identity. 

Benito Juarez 

Place & Date of birth: San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca in March 21, 1806 

Benito Pablo Juárez García was a Mexican liberal politician and lawyer who served as the 26th president of Mexico from 1858 until his death in office in 1872. A Zapotec, he was the first indigenous president of Mexico, and the first indigenous head of state in the postcolonial Americas. Juárez was seen as “a preeminent symbol of Mexican nationalism and resistance to foreign intervention.” He is the only individual whose birthday (21 March) is celebrated as a national public and patriotic holiday in Mexico. 

Celia Cruz

Date of Birth:  Havana, Cuba | October 21, 1925

Celia Cruz was a Cuban American singer, best known as one of the most popular salsa performers of all time. 

Before Celia Cruz became known for her signature catchphrase, “Azucar,” she was just a young girl in Cuba absorbing the rich musical diversity in Havana.   She attended a school for teachers after high school before music called to her and she started studying at Havana’s National Conservatory of Music in 1947. 

 In 1960, she left her homeland for the United States where she recorded several albums with Tito Puente, and together they sparked an international interest in salsa.  Cruz’s music and style constantly evolved. While her salsa music was prolific, she also performed rumba and reggaeton, and starred in films.   

Always singing in her native Spanish, she recorded seventy-five records, twenty-three of which went gold, and received a host of honors and awards including the National Medal of Arts and a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy. 

Celia Cruz passed away from brain cancer in 2003 at the age of 77.

Carlos Augusto Santana Alves

Date of Birth:  July 20, 1947 

Carlos Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, México on July 20, 1947, learning to play the violin at the age of five and the guitar at the age of 8.  His family moved to Tijuana, Mexico where he began to play in clubs and bars.  In the early 1960’s his family then moved to San Francisco, CA where his musical career gained momentum. 

He formed the Santana Blues Band which quickly gained popularity and ultimately performed at the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969. 

Santana has sold more than 100 million records to date, and his works have works have entered the Grammy Hall of Fame and Latin Grammy Hall of Fame. 

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