This seems to be one of the worst episodes for the Latino community in the United States, and its leaders know it.
In the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affects Hispanics, a government that attacks them on all sides and an economic crisis that seems to be here to stay, Latinos in the country have two options: to grieve or to organize.
For Eva Longoria Bastón, the second option is the only way out.
At a press conference through Zoom, Longoria Bastón, former Democratic National Committee finance chairman Henry R. Muñoz III, Rep. Joaquin Castro and Chef
José Andrés announced their effort “to fix the issues facing the Latinx community.”
Under the name Momento Latino, the actress and philanthropist has organized a coalition of groups focused on health, education, economics and politics, and with the conviction that now is the time to recognize the strength of the country’s largest and most powerful ethnic demographics.
“We are launching Momento Latino now because we are at a moment in time that the country is listening and engaging in social activism. We want to capitalize on that momentum,” she said. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we could really use that energy and momentum to speak up for our community because we felt like nobody was really doing that, nobody was speaking to us. We think … this is a time to unite and if we could unite and move forward together, we can amplify the issues, not only amplify the issues, but amplify the solutions that are positively going to affect our community.”
The inequities that permeate the Latino population were not caused by COVID-19, Longoria Bastón said. “It took a pandemic to tell us that farmworkers were essential,” NBC quoted.
“This is not about setting up a single fundraiser and walking away. It’s a movement and we want it to become a movement for the Latinx community,” she said.
Her cofounder Henry Muñoz, a philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser and the co-founder of SOMOS Health care, a New York-based health care provider network for Medicaid enrollees, said the group hopes it can put itself out of work.
“We wish we could tell you that the impact of COVID-19 on our community was lessening but that is not the case,” Muñoz said. “It’s not going away any time soon.”
With a hospitalization rate five times higher than whites in the country and representing the largest but most vulnerable workforce, Latinos are tired of being the cannon fodder of a country that takes them into account only during election periods.
Muñoz, who also co-founded Latino Victory Project with Bastón in 2014, said the impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community calls for “unprecedented unity of voice and a lifting of our voice.”
He said, “Momento Latino is a group, an historic gathering of many of the thought leaders, the advocacy organizations around the country, the people who have been elected from our community to hold office at the local, state and national level, not only to speak truth to power, but to speak to ourselves, to have an opportunity to lead ourselves and create cultural understating. If there is ever a moment in the history of our country where cultural understanding and the healing and the recovery that could come out of cultural understanding, if there’s ever a moment when that is needed, it’s this moment.”
As NBC continues, Momento Latino declares on its website: “America can’t recover from COVID-19 until the Latino community recovers from COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on the Latino community’s health, education and economic stability, including a lack of Spanish-language resources. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated long-standing inequalities,” they add.