The U.S. Latino community is demanding a national leader to defend its interests, according to a recent poll, but in the opinion of experts consulted by Efe that search could be simply an impractical fantasy.

In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, almost three quarters of the Hispanic community said they felt a leader is needed, although a similar percentage of those surveyed said they couldn't name who the most important Hispanic leader is at this time.

Despite the fact that he died in 1993, civil rights activist and United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez continues to be selected by members of the Latino community as the most important Hispanic.

"We can hope for another Cesar Chavez, or the second coming of Jesus Christ, but I don't know who will come first because it's a dream that there might be someone of that quality," Juan Andrade, president of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, said he felt it was "a useless search."

"It would be better to seek a leader who exists within ourselves, or to look to the thousands of leaders we have on the local and state level without concerning ourselves with just one person," he added.

"The Anglos only had one George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. The African Americans had a Martin Luther King Jr.," Andrade said. "There were others before and after, people who rose in ... importance, but who didn't get to the level of these leaders because the mold was broken."

Vargas, for his part, said that the title of leader was given by the media, which does not place enough emphasis on the efforts of "many people who do very important work for the community."

Among the people he mentioned in that regard were Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Texas state Sen. Leticia R. San Miguel de Putte.

In the Pew survey, the best-known Latino leaders were Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez. EFE