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Manny Espinoza Headshot

The Voice of Latinos -- Who's Really Listening?

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2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION COST
AP
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Since the election, there has been much said about the influence of Latinos. Once again, we have been "discovered" but this time, instead of being a passing fad, there is more discussion on how to reach and connect with this increasingly growing political, economic and educated demographic. As a leader in business, a Mexican-American raised in the border town of Nogales, Arizona and CEO of the largest professional association for Latinos in the U.S., I believe I can add some insight into my community.

First, go beyond the generalizations. Many think our community is largely undocumented, do not vote because they can't, or add to the bottom line of this economy. The fact is, in 2012 Latinos saw their highest voter turnout ever and according to the National Exit Poll represented 10 percent of the electorate. Second, while immigration is a huge factor for many Latinos, job creation, healthcare and education are just as critical. Third, we have many Latino leaders in our midst, and the fact many are not known is that they have not been given the opportunity or recognition they deserve to share their insight and solutions.

Take the economy. Did you know that Latin America is America's third largest trade partner? As a retired partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers, I worked as an ex-pat in the firm's Mexico City office and traveled throughout Latin America for roughly 10 years. I witnessed firsthand the growth of the middle class in several of the countries I visited. I can speak to the viability of the region and the potential for investment opportunities and so can thousands of Latino business leaders like me.

As 2012 was an election year, many organizations including ours invited the candidates to come speak to their membership. We wanted the opportunity to listen to their ideas and solutions and share how we fit into the bigger picture of moving this country forward, but also for them to see the leadership within ALPFA and engage us in creating solutions. It was great to see the candidates attend some of these events and start recognizing our impact and voice. Although they could not make it to ours, our convention will be in D.C in 2013 and we will again extend an invitation to come to our event and have a dialogue of working together.

The smart player in the political arena, like the savvy business leader, knows he/she needs to surround him/herself with individuals who add something new to the discussion and be open to a dialogue that might even challenge the status quo. And think of how much further we'll get if we approach each other from a place of working toward each other's success versus just trying to get a quick win.