Latina Opera Star in Madame Butterfly

Her elegant, powerful soprano voice first soared through the distinguished Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on December 18, 1970, as Gilda Cruz-Romo performed the title role in “Madame Butterfly”. Mexican-born Cruz-Romo sang in the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including La Scala in Milan, the Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome, the Vienna Staatsoper, the London Royal Opera, and Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera. After a lifetime of touring to cheering applause, Cruz-Romo taught at the University of Texas at Austin, her alma mater. For a sample aria of her crystal voice, please visit

Death of Three Good Men

The shots cracked through the hot dry summer air, and three men were killed, including Ruben Salazar, a noted Los Angeles Times columnist and local TV station manager.  An anti-war demonstration against the unpopular Vietnam War was raging in Laguna Park in East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970.  The protest organized by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee (NCMC) and Salazar, who was a lead reporter on Latino affairs, was covering the story.  Salazar was sipping a beer in the nearby Silver Dollar Café, when a Los Angeles County sheriff fired a tear gas canister into the restaurant. The Mexican-born Salazar was reporting on law enforcement abuses, and his death sparked outrage and condemnation among the Chicano and Anglo communities.  Salazar was later honored with a US postage stamp, among other commemorations.  (Please see December 19, 1969 for more on the NCMC.)

Misael Pastrana Borrero, President of Colombia

After a close election with a former military dictator, Misael Pastrana Borrero, a lawyer and former business executive, began his term as President of Colombia on August 7, 1970.  A lawyer and business executive, Borrero began his public service as a diplomat to the Vatican, and also served as Colombia’s Ambassador to the US and as Minister of several government agencies, including Development and Finance and Public Credit.  As expected, Colombia’s social and economic problems were a challenge for Borrero throughout his term.  As a conservative, he protected the rights of large landowners and commercial farms, and promoted the housing industry.  His reforms did not move rapidly enough for the disaffected workers, farmers, and students, who continued to call for stronger measures to transform the economy.

Gabriela Beatriz Sabatini, Star Athlete

Happy Birthday to Gabriela Beatriz Sabatini, born on May 16, 1970.  As amateur in 1984, Sabatini was youngest player ever to win a round at the US Open.  That same year, she was ranked as the top Junior player in the world.  She turned pro in 1985 at the age of 14, and set another record as the youngest player to reach semi-finals of the French Open.  Sabatini was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is regarded as a national treasure.  Argentina was undergoing tremendous political and economic turbulence during the 1980s.  In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 1988, her coach said, “Suddenly in the middle of all the depression and bad news, when everything seemed to be wrong in Argentina, there comes this little angel who makes only good news. I think that is what made her an idol.”

Ruben Quintero, PhD, a Soldier and a Scholar

“Had I been sprawled just a foot more to my left on the morning of March 7, 1970, while receiving hostile fire from somewhere within the canopied, high-land growth of Phuoc Long [Vietnam], my name would be black-marbled on … the Vietnam War Memorial, along with more than 58,000 other names.” This begins the account of Ruben Quintero, soldier turned scholar, of his service in Vietnam. Dr. Quintero’s harrowing and heroic account was published in the ‘Viet Nam War Generation Journal’ in April 2002. Dr. Quintero earned his BA at California State University Los Angeles and his PhD from Harvard University. He now teaches in the Department of English at his undergraduate alma mater in Los Angeles.