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Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of Nicaragua

Happy Birthday to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra, born in La Libertad, Nicaragua, on November 11, 1945. Ortega’s father was a citizen-soldier for of Augusto Cesar Sandino, after whom the Sandinistas are named. Ortega has a lengthy career in public service, starting as a citizen-soldier leader against the US-backed Somoza dictatorship.  He was a central Latin American protagonist in the Cold War who helped lead the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution.  Under Ortega’s leadership, the Nicaraguans fought a long civil war against the Contras, a rebel group funded by the US government during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. About 50,000 Nicaraguans died during this harsh, bloody civil war. Ortega was elected President of Nicaragua in 1984 and again in 2006, and he remains in office as of this digital copy. His recent years have been marked by serious political turmoil.

Happy Birthday to Frank Tejeda

US Marine Corps veteran and Congressman Frank Tejeda was born in San Antonio, Texas on October 2, 1945. After serving in the Marines and being wounded in action in the Vietnam War, Tejeda returned to school to earn a BA from St. Mary’s University, law degrees from the University of California and Yale, and an MA from Harvard’s Kennedy School.  He served in the Texas House of Representatives, and was elected to the US Congress in 1992.  In Congress, he worked to improve services for veterans and furthering rights for minorities, before his early death at age 51.

Happy Birthday to Rodney Cline Carew

Happy birthday to Rodney Cline Carew, considered one of modern baseball’s greatest hitters.  The Major League Player also excelled as a first baseman, second baseman and coach. Carew was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.  Carew’s mother was Panamanian, and he was born on a train traveling through the Panama Canal Zone.  During the racial segregation of the 1940’s that was implemented in the Canal Zone, his mother was in the rear car when she went into labor.  A physician on the train, Dr. Rodney Cline, delivered Carew, and the famous MLB player is his namesake.

Happy Birthday to Rodrigo Reyes

Rodrigo Reyes was a journalist and social activist during the enlightening and tumultuous 60s and 70s in San Francisco, California.  His parents were migrant farm workers from Mexico and he was born September 24, 1945 in Weslaco, Texas.  Reyes was one of the founders of the Gay Latino Alliance (GALA), which became an important organization in addressing racism in the gay movement and homophobia in the Latino community.  In 1981, he authored the article “Latino Gays: Coming Out and Coming Home” which was published in the national Latino Nuestro magazine, inspiring a nationwide discussion on the issue of acceptance in the Hispanic American community.

Happy Birthday to Jose Feliciano, Award Winning Musician

If you’re sufficiently ‘mature’ (read, old enough) your first introduction as a norteamericano to Latino music may have been the Christmas carol “Felize Navidade” by Puerto Rican singer Jose Feliciano.  Born in Puerto Rico on September 10, 1945, Feliciano was a trail blazer for Latinx music.  In 1968, he won Grammy awards for best new artist and best contemporary male pop vocal performance for an original version of “Light My Fire”, which he performed with a smoldering Latin rhythm.  Visually impaired since birth, Feliciano was a master of the acoustic guitar, and a virtuoso of the bass, banjo, mandolin, and various keyboard instruments.  Felize cumpleaños, Jose!

Silvestre Santana Herrera, War Hero

On August 23, 1945, Medal of Honor winner Silvestre Santana Herrera rolled his wheelchair across the White House lawn to receive his award from President Harry Truman.  Herrera was a soldier in the US Army, and received the medal for his heroic actions during World War II, in France. He charged an enemy position and was badly wounded by mine explosions. He continued fighting, allowing his fellow soldiers to take cover. Herrera was born in Camargo, Mexico, and was brought to the US by his uncle when he was 18 months old.

Why We Love New York!

On March 12, 1945, the state governor of New York signed in to law the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill.  New York became the first state to enact legislation prohibiting the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, religion, or creed.  This law was modeled on the policies of the Fair Employment Practices Commission, created by President Roosevelt on June 25, 1941.

“La Casa de Bernarda Alba”

On March 6, 1945, Federico Garcia Lorca’s play “La Casa de Bernarda Albapremiered in Argentina.  Lorca was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director who traveled in the US and South America.  His book of poetry, ”Gypsy Ballads”, was selected by Le Monde, a leading French newspaper, as one of the 100 books of the 20th Century.  Lorca was murdered in circumstances that are still disputed; one conjecture is that he was shot by the anti-communist death squads during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939).