Latino businessmen from all over the United States on Wednesday asked for the Obama administration's support in developing their businesses via greater access to capital.
The Hispanic Business Leaders Forum gathered for the first time in the White House about 80 Latino businessmen from all economic sectors to meet with high-level officials to discuss ways to foster the development of their companies and the creation of jobs.
During a break, several of the businessmen said their aim is to convey the message that, after the Latino community's demonstration of its electoral clout last November, Latinos have won "a permanent seat at the table."
"We want to get to the point where, seated at the table, we're not seen as something separate but rather as part of the U.S. fabric because in the end the Latino story is the U.S. story," said Andres Lopez, the president and owner of a legal firm in Puerto Rico.
When asked by Efe about the importance of having a "place at the table," Linda Alvarado, the president of Alvarado Construction and owner of the Colorado Rockies major league baseball team, emphasized that the Hispanic businessmen already have that well-deserved place at the table but "not in an equitable way."
"We're good when we have the chance ... We want to come into the game, knowing that we have to work hard to be successful," she said.
According to U.S. Census data, there are more than 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the country.
Javier Palomarez, the president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that Latino businesses contribute to the economy through creating jobs, paying taxes and providing goods and services.
Palomarez complained that, up to now, a good part of the narrative of U.S. relations with Mexico and the rest of Latin America has focused on drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
"Rarely do you hear - rarely - that Mexico still is the No. 2 trading partner to the United States, has been for decades and will likely continue to be," he said.
Representing the administration were long-time Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett, top economic adviser Gene Sperling and the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz.