A sad, tragic end to the Year of the Latino

December 21, 2012

By Tony Castro

Noah Pozner, one of the children killed in the Connecticut school massacre, wanted to be the manager of a taco factory—that’s how much he loved tacos.

Maxilene Ramos, who runs the Newtown General Store, has been one of those volunteers helping raise money from around the world for the victims.

Lt. James Perez of the Fairfield Police Department was among the law enforcement officers who tracked down the telephone threat that attempted to disrupt Sunday’s services attended by President Barack Obama.

And of course, there were the two victims of Puerto Rican backgrounds—six-year-old Ana Marquez-Green and first-grade teacher Victoria Soto.

All in all, what many had called the Year of the Latino, beginning with Hispanics at the historic forefront of the presidential election campaign is coming to a close with Hispanics and the Latino cultural experience in the tragic fabric of one of the nation’s worst mass killings.

If the unprecedented turnout was the high of the Year of the Latino, then the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy is the low.

Connecticut is home to almost half a million Latinos

For so long Connecticut has been synonymous with being a virtual bedroom community for the upscale of nearby New York City that other aspects of the state have gone overlooked, such as being the home to almost half a million Latinos, with almost half of them eligible to vote.

Hispanics make up 13 percent of the state’s population—the 11th biggest Latino population in the country.

Connecticut is also a state that last month elected its first two Hispanics to the State Senate.

“We don’t go around with a Latino tag on our shirtsleeves, but there are a lot of us living here,” said Nancy Gutierrez, a nursing student in Bridgeport. “And we’re all torn and grieving over this horrific tragedy.”

The mourning continued Monday on a day when several of the victims were buried.

“I can’t even put words to the feelings that I felt in there,” Lt. Perez told reporters, describing a scene inside a funeral home. “To see it be a child, it’s just beyond… I didn’t have any words for the family.”

Among those children killed was Jack Pinto whose parents chose to have him buried in the jersey of his favorite NFL player—not Brady or Manning but New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

Cruz acknowledged Pinto by adorning his uniform with the child’s name in the Giants’ Sunday football game.

“Jack Pinto ‘My Hero,’” read one note on his uniform. “RIP Jack Pinto,” said another.

“I told them I was honored,” Cruz said about the Pinto family telling him of how their son would be laid to rest. “I couldn’t even express to them how great that made me feel, and how big of an honor that is.”

Los Angeles based writer Tony Castro is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America” and the best-selling “Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son.” Reprinted from VOXXI News ( )

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