A coalition of activists, leaders and artists launched Momento Latino on Monday to address issues facing the Latino community in the U.S., particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democratic National Committee former finance chairman Henry R. Muñoz III was joined by Eva Longoria Baston and Rep. Joaquin Castro to announce the new organization during a Zoom press conference. Other participants included restauranteur José Andrés, and “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” stars Jessica Garza and Jonathan Nieves.
“We are launching Momento Latino now because we are at a moment in time that the country is listening and engaging in social activism. We want to capitalize on that momentum,” Baston said. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we could really use that energy and momentum to speak up for our community because we felt like nobody was really doing that, nobody was speaking to us. We think … this is a time to unite and if we could unite and move forward together, we can amplify the issues, not only amplify the issues, but amplify the solutions that are positively going to affect our community.”
Momento Latino will focus on issues pertaining to education, health care and the economy, as well as voting rights and immigration reform.
“They’re not new issues and also these issues are not caused by COVID-19,” Baston said. “They have just been exacerbated by the pandemic. It took a global pandemic to tell us that farm workers were essential. They’ve always been essential. They’ve always been essential to the food chain.”
Muñoz, who co-founded Latino Victory Project with Baston in 2014, said the impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community calls for “unprecedented unity of voice and a lifting of our voice.”
He said, “Momento Latino is a group, an historic gathering of many of the thought leaders, the advocacy organizations around the country, the people who have been elected from our community to hold office at the local, state and national level, not only to speak truth to power, but to speak to ourselves, to have an opportunity to lead ourselves and create cultural understating. If there is ever a moment in the history of our country where cultural understanding and the healing and the recovery that could come out of cultural understanding, if there’s ever a moment when that is needed, it’s this moment.”
In California alone, Latinos comprise 39% of the state’s population, but make up 55% of all people infected with COVID-19, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The number of infections could be even higher because testing information regarding undocumented immigrants may not be accurate.
“We need an organization like Momento Latino because we can’t wait for other people to fix the issues facing the Latinx community,” Garza said. “We need to secure our own futures. We need to be advocates.”