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If Latin America had not been pillaged by the U.S. capital since its independence, millions of desperate workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of that wealth; and if the United States is today the world’s richest nation, it is in part because of the sweat and blood of the copper workers of Chile, the tin miners of Bolivia, the fruit pickers of Guatemala and Honduras, the cane cutters of Cuba, the oil workers of Venezuela and Mexico, the pharmaceutical workers of Puerto Rico, the ranch hands of Costa Rica and Argentina, the West Indians who died building the Panama Canal, and the Panamanians who maintained it.
—  Juan Gonzalez - Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

Latino: the Manufactured Super Consumer

How corporations and government use consumerism and false identities to subvert Mexicans

by Ricardo Lezama

I. Who promotes the term ‘Latino’ and why?

'Latino' is a marketing term used to subsume Mexicans into other Spanish speaking identities in the United States. While individuals may have their own intuitions about its use, beliefs about empowerment and potential arguments for needing the term, from a marketing perspective, the term 'Latino' is a way for corporations to simplify their relationship with a demographic of consumers. Thus, adopting 'Latino' uncritically as an identity is inherently questionable when so many marketers and corporations have been involved in defining the culture and ideology entailed by the term.

The U.S. media use the term ‘Latino’ to dissociate individuals from their national and ethnic identity and connect them to the consumer market. This allows the U.S. to intervene in these countries without suffering the consequences of domestic protest. They drive them away from political interests and into frivolous consumerist goals.

From an economic standpoint, this makes perfect sense. If you work at a large multi-national marketing firm, you want to reduce your target audience to as simple of an entity in order to hone your marketing and product development strategy. There is great incentive to do so, as this Forbes article notes:

"The emergence of Hispanics as a consumer force is growing rapidly, with a purchasing power expected to reach $1.5 trillion dollars in 2015. Dubbed ‘super consumers’ Latinos in the U.S. are blowing past the mainstream and other minority groups in this regard."


"Hispanic online and mobile usage is among the highest of any group and continues to increase faster than the general marketplace."

The term Latino implies dollar signs, not a political struggle. Marketers and businesses (an advertiser’s actual customer) use the term to reduce the various complex identities from Latin America in the United States to their most basic similarity: not white and Spanish speaking. The rest, from their perspective, is very irrelevant. If people believe they are ‘Latino,’ then the only problem left for advertisers is refining and expanding the definition so that it better resembles an actual cultural identity.

II. Passive Populations Make Military Intervention Easier for the U.S. Government

U.S. foreign policy in México depends on the Mexican community constantly being on the defensive, confused and complacent with whatever ill-will the government directly and indirectly expresses towards them. In order for U.S. foreign policy to work in México, Mexicans in the United States must dissociate themselves from the political process in México. ‘Latino’ becomes a very useful term in this context. Mexicans are encouraged to just shut up and work towards becoming passive ‘Latinos’ in the United States. This helps Chicanos avoid the ‘cognitive dissonance’ whenever they attempt to make sense of the hostility directed at them. It makes life easy for Mexicans who wish to ‘just get by,’ not think about complex things and make a little money.

For instance, we can view Hilary Clinton’s statement to Greta Van Susteren as a direct attack on our community: “just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay” is a very clear message of animosity towards the Mexican community. Why are we not all protesting her statements? What other community has had its history banned in an American state? Just Mexicans in recent memory.

Why is this policy of constant deportation so vehemently pursued by government officials? Perhaps, the government wishes to use the Mexican community as a scapegoat to explain the terrible state of the economy. This was partially made possible because there has been no significant pushback too. Chicanos, as a whole, have been very busy being neutral through being ‘Latino.’

My point is that while some Chicanos were busy being ‘Latino,’ the U.S. government was busy being itself and shipped weapons to undemocratic right wing paramilitary, gave training to the Mexican military and fixed the Caldéron and Peña Nieto elections in México.

The U.S. government would like to reassert territorial dominance over the U.S. southwest and northern México. That is basically what border enforcement and SB-1070 are about. The economic and social fragmentation of Mexican migrants in the United States is not an accident, and has real consequences. For example, most second generation Mexicans are completely ignorant of politics in México and embrace this ignorance as a sign of Americanism. These people often call themselves ‘Latino’ before they call themselves ‘Mexican’ in order to avoid conflict with non-Chicanos. Chicanos now have to deal with the psychological blow of our own people asserting their legal status, inability to speak Spanish and preference for American culture as symbols of their legitimacy. The fact that half of the United States was formerly México is lost in this confusion.

The fear created by the U.S. government’s divide and conquer strategy has served them well. Plan Merida has been virtually unopposed in the United States. Most Chicanos (even those who are educated) do not know the full scale of military intervention in México orchestrated by the United States. Many Chicanos still think Mexican cartels are the most guilty of the harm done to México during the peak years of the “Drug War.” What they do not know is that the United States sent military hardware, personnel and money to the Mexican government. These resources were then turned against activists, the EZLN and also found their ways into preferred drug traffickers.

In other words, the term ‘Latino’ not only turns Raza into consumers, but also into unwilling collaborators with the state. Our acquiescence and ignorance of U.S. foreign policy is a direct consequence with identifying with the word ‘Latino.’ When Chicanos don’t identify with the nationality of Mexican, we stop caring about the political processes that we could positively influence. We forget that we can have two countries instead of none.

The fact that the government and corporations benefit from Mexicans self-identifying with the term ‘Latino’ does not answer why ‘Latino’ is so constantly used by our people. At an emotional level, I think the term ‘Latino’ gives some of us a superficial sense of belonging to a larger community. Somehow people forget - or never learn - the specific history between them and the United States. The term ‘Latino’ helps solidify that ignorance, because it prevents us from grasping a historically grounded reality. The term ‘Latino’ unifies us in the wrong way; it unifies us through collective ignorance of our own individual history.

This article was originally published at La Cartita

Ricardo Lezama is a linguist from Santa Ana, California. He also works as a software engineer at a tech company, and is the founder of

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If Latinos Said the Stuff White People Say

The data show that Hispanics with darker skin were far more likely to vote Democrat than those with lighter skin. In the most dramatic of four cases presented, the analysis estimated that Latinos with the darkest skin showed a 98 percent chance of voting Democrat, while those with the lightest skin showed a 43 percent chance.

Despite the variation, Latinos of all skin tones tended to lean more strongly toward identifying as Democrats and voting Democrat in national elections, with the exception of the 2012 U.S. Senate election.

People who think having mixed babies will fix racism clearly haven’t been to Latin America. The treatment and representation of indigenous and black people is just as bad. Sorry to burst your bubble, but y’all really need to stop. What I really want is acknowledgement and the tearing down of oppressive power structures. Kthanks.


Latino Health Disparities Compared to non-Hispanic Whites

(From Families USA)

Latino Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites - See more at:

Latino Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites - See more at:

Latino Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites - See more at:

The mainstream media, even smaller progressive media, is always trying to make a buck off some shoddy, half-baked reporting. I take beef with the recent piece by ColorLines posted on Facebook with the title “Do Latinos care about Ferguson?”

This yes or no framing is a shitty false dichotomy. It’s not a yes or no question or answer, and framing it that way is really shitty for generating any sort of building between communities. Plenty of Latinos are following this story and are marching in solidarity with our black compas.

Stay focused. This is about Justice for Mike Brown, and getting Justice for Mike Brown is about dismantling an (in)justice system that doesn’t give a shit about black or brown people, whether it is ICE deporting families or Ferguson PD dropping black youth. 

Our struggles are interrelated, but right now, as full-fledged, complex human beings, Latinos can support Ferguson, push-back against our own anti-blackness, AND deal with white supremacy against Latinos too.

Intersectionality is not a zero-sum game. Much love. Keep fighting. September 15-October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

So, why September 15-October 15?

It seems a bit strange that in contrast to all the other “heritage” celebrations and recognitions, the one for Hispanic Americans starts in the middle of the month – September 15 to be exact. That selection, however, has profound roots in Hispanic history.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period. more from LOC