Hard Times For Latinos in Colorado After 50 Years of Struggle

Published January 08, 2013


Almost half a century after beginning the struggle for their rights and despite some notable successes, Hispanics in this state are still facing serious difficulties, according to the leadership of the Colorado Latino Forum.

"We must continue with the process of assuring ourselves that Latinos have a voice in Colorado," Polly Baca, the first Hispanic woman elected to the state Senate and a member of the CLF board of directors, told Efe.

"The work today is a continuation of the work begun in 1964 by LARASA (Latin American Research and Service Agency) to develop an agenda that includes all the issues important not only for us, but also for all other groups in Colorado, because we're concerned about everyone," she added.

Baca and 200 other Hispanic leaders met on the weekend at Metropolitan State University of Denver to participate in the CLF annual convention.

One of the main achievements of the Latino community in 2012 is the fact that in last November's presidential election more than 338,000 Hispanic voters in Colorado went to the polls, a record number that represents 14 percent of the total ballots cast.

The state legislature now has 12 Latinos, four in the Senate and eight in the House of Representatives, the highest number in the last 25 years.

"The giant has awakened," said businessman and CLF co-founder Gene Lucero. "Colorado is a model for the rest of the country."

However, Hispanics still are facing numerous problems in different areas, including justice, economic development, education, health and immigration, according to the 2012 Snapshot of Colorado Latinos, prepared by the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization.

The report indicates that the rate of imprisonment for Latinos is almost double that for whites and that poverty affects Latinos 2.5 times more than other groups.

"Our challenge is to eliminate all those disparities," Lucero said. 

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