A quarter-century after leaving her native Mexico, entrepreneur Paloma Silvestre has found success in New Hampshire with a restaurant evoking her Mexican husband's home state of Zacatecas.

Silvestre, a 36-year-old mother of four, and her spouse are the owners of Manchester's El Rincon Zacatecano (The Zacatecan Corner), said by food critics to offer the best authentic Mexican food in all of New England.

"New Hampshire has offered us what we couldn't have obtained in other states. The opportunities have not been easy, but the state gave us help to open this business," Silvestre said in an interview with Efe.

"I've lived in other states and New Hampshire gave us tranquility, it's very peaceful, everyone is very friendly and they make you feel welcomed," Silvestre added.

The businesswomen did not participate in the Republican presidential primaries on Tuesday because, in her opinion, "right now they're promising everything, but nothing's actually been seen," but she closely followed the election contest that made her a profit.

Teams of reporters from around the world came to her restaurant, surprised at finding a Mexican eatery in a state where Latinos comprise barely 2.8 percent of the total population of just over 1.3 million.

"Oh, yes. Definitely, people have come from different parts of the world, from China, from Japan, from Australia, and thank God we help them get to know our Mexican culture. Not just the Mexican culture, but the Latino, which we're happy about, and it makes them want to get to know our culture even though it's just a little piece, a little corner of our country," she said.

Silvestre came to New Hampshire to escape the "hustle and bustle" of New Jersey.

The noteworthy thing about New Hampshire is that its Latino community quadrupled in size between 1980 and 2000 and the state is one of the new destinations for Hispanic immigrants.

Although the majority of the Latinos in New Hampshire work in construction, in the agricultural sector or in textile factories, there is also an emerging middle class.

Such is her assimilation that Silvestre no longer thinks about returning to Mexico because, she emphasized, New Hampshire "is part of our life, of our home and you go to see (your) families but our house is here."

"New Hampshire has offered us another type of life; we're a small but united community. The church where we get closer to God has five different languages, there are people from different cultures ... It's like enriching yourself," she said.

However, Silvestre complained that, just like in other places where the battle over illegal immigration has intensified, in New Hampshire the police also arrest people who look like foreigners and turn them over to the immigration authorities.

"The boys go walking along the street or are going to work and they stop them simply because of their looks, for being Latinos. We have to do more so that this stops and not just for Latinos, but because this state has many different communities" of immigrants, she said. 

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