Axios Latino

Red wooden block with Latino in colors engraved on it.

We hope you're not hungover on elections. Welcome back! 🎉

  • Puede leer este boletín en español aquí.

This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván and Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath, is 1,453 words, a 5.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Historic House gains

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona stands at a podium with the Arizona Democratic Party

Bold PAC chair and U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Congress is on track for its largest class of Latino and Hispanic members in history, with at least 42 wins by Democrats and Republicans combined, Russell writes.

Driving the news: With many races still too close to be called as of this morning, several Democratic candidates appeared to be outperforming GOP opponents.

  • Exit polling suggested Republicans had some continuing success eroding the Democratic Party's dominance with Latino voters by capturing 38% to 40% of the total Latino vote — although analysts say that's not a significant realignment.
  • Latinos in the 2014 midterms voted for Democrats in congressional races by a margin of 62% to 36%, according to the Pew Research Center.

The big picture: Currently, the U.S. House has 40 members who are Hispanic or Latino, according to an Axios review of bios, candidate statements and family histories.

Zoom in: Three Republican Latinas — Cassy Garcia and Mayra Flores of Texas and Virginia's Yesli Vega— lost to Democrats despite big pushes by the GOP.

  • Democrat Yadira Caraveo will be the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress.
  • Florida's Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old Democrat, became the first member of Generation Z to be elected to Congress. Frost identifies as Afro-Cuban.

What they're saying: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), chair of Bold PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, tells Axios that hype about Latina Republican candidates driving a "red wave" underestimated how voters would find some to be too extreme — including on abortion rights.

Yes, but: Republicans did well among Hispanic voters in Florida.

  • The state elected Republican Anna Paulina Luna, its first Mexican-American woman member of the U.S. House.
  • Freshman GOP Rep. María Elvira Salazar easily won another term despite an aggressive challenge from state Sen. Annette Taddeo.

The intrigue: Democrats appear to have outspent Republicans in Spanish-language ads.

  • In Pennsylvania, Democrats spent $500,000 in Spanish-language ads aimed at Latino voters for Democratic senatorial candidate John Fetterman.
  • Latinos supported John Fetterman by a 3-to-1 margin, Kenny Sandoval, vice president of campaigns and partnerships with Voto Latino, said during a press call yesterday.

Read more

2. Black Panther's Latino stories

The Latino stars of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sit on a couch and smile during a TV interview

Appearing on "Despierta América" in Florida are (from left) Alex Livinalli, Tenoch Huerta Mejía and Mabel Cadena. Photo: John Parra/Getty Images.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is the first Marvel movie with several top-billed Latino characters, prompting excitement in Latin America and beyond, Marina writes.

Why it matters: Until Black Panther, every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was led by a white man, according to an Axios analysis.

  • Overall, Latino characters represent only 5% of Hollywood roles on average since 2007, according to the most recent data from USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative.

Details: Mexican, Venezuelan and Guatemalan actors are among the leads in the new Black Panther movie.

  • It also has major set pieces inspired by Mesoamerican mythologies, and its soundtrack includes Mayan rappers.

The big picture: Fans say they're happy to see their Indigenous roots represented.

  • Others have said they were moved after Tenoch Huerta Mejía, the Mexican actor of Indigenous roots who plays Namor, one of the lead characters, delivered a speech this summer dedicating the movie to Latin American fans.

Created in 1939, Namor, also known as the Sub-Mariner, was one of the first comic book characters. He made his debut in issue #1 of "Marvel Comics."

  • The character's origins have been slightly reworked for the movie.

Yes, but: The character of Namor and his people have historically been antagonists in Black Panther comics, prompting criticism that the movie could negatively depict Latinos.

  • Huerta Mejía has said he hopes viewers will sympathize with his character.

What they're saying: "I hope and think many will identify with how Talokan as a community is forced to leave the place they live in, their lifestyle, everything they know, to embark at sea seeking a better life," Venezuelan-American actor Alex Livinalli, who portrays Talokanil lieutenant Attuma, told Noticias Telemundo.

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3. Luis Fonsi seeks to destigmatize Alzheimer's

Luis Fonsi sings with a microphone to his mouth with a black background

Luis Fonsi performing in Spain in August. Photo: Cristina Andina/Redferns via Getty Images

Singer Luis Fonsi is urging Latinos to join him in breaking down the community's stigma around Alzheimer’s, a disease that has hit close to home since his abuelita’s diagnosis, Axios' Sabrina Moreno writes.

Why it matters: Latinos are projected to have the steepest increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses over the next 40 years, but shame can keep many from seeking care, said Yarissa Reyes, who heads Latino outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.

  • The expectation to “keep everything inside in the Latino community” can often mean the caregiving falls on family members, Reyes tells Axios.
  • “So having someone like Luis lend his voice to the cause and tell people, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do this alone. There are resources available and here’s where you can find them?’ That’s huge for our community.”

Driving the news: Fonsi today released public service announcements in Spanish and English through his partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association.

  • In May, the Grammy Award-winning singer became the first Latino artist to join the health organization’s “Music Moments,” a storytelling series dedicated to raising awareness of the disease.

By the numbers: Roughly 1 in 8 Latinos ages 65 and older has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

  • The health organization estimates that Latinos are 1.5 times more likely than their white counterparts to have dementia.
  • Nearly 60% of Latinos in the U.S. also believe the significant loss of cognitive function — as seen in Alzheimer’s — is a normal part of aging. Reyes says it’s not.
  • But despite the disproportionate impact, Latinos are chronically absent from the clinical trials of drugs that could treat the disease, accounting for less than 1% of participants.

Read more

4. How to save — and be one — with nature

two people walk through a canyon in the wilderness in California

Two people walk through Painted Canyon in the Mecca Hills Wilderness in California. Photo: Watchara Phomicinda/MediaNews Group/The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

A Hispanic Access Foundation report released today at the UN climate summit says governments worldwide can protect biodiversity while also increasing access to nature for communities of color in several ways, Astrid writes.

Why it matters: People of color and low-income communities have less access to nature and are more likely to live in places that are being destroyed by development or because of climate change or structural racism, according to prior research by the group.

The big picture: Outdoor groups and governments have been working to make public areas more accessible and safe for people of color.

  • The National Park Service said it was focusing its efforts on appealing to more people of color when it turned 100 years old in 2016.
  • Data from a 10-year survey released in 2020 showed just 23% of visitors to U.S. National Parks were people of color, according to an ABC News report.

Details: Governments should look at the examples in the report to help their communities restore and conserve biodiversity while increasing equitable access, the Hispanic Access Foundation said.

Among a list of 10 key steps governments should take, the report recommends:

  • Recognizing and protecting Indigenous peoples and their land.
  • Adding more trees in urban spaces.
  • Prioritizing the use of natural systems for water conservation.
  • Increasing the number of parks and protected areas.

What they're saying: Vanessa Muñoz, a conservation program manager for the foundation, says part of the solution is to address cultural barriers to accessing nature, such as feelings of not belonging or lack of language access.

  • "I think that what this report really captures is how we can restore, regenerate and conserve biodiversity while also increasing equitable access to nature for communities of color," she says.

5. Stories we're watching

Former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli raises his fist as he walks during a protest

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (left) marches during a protest against the attorney general on Sep. 20. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images

1. Two of Panama's former presidents, Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) and Juan Carlos Varela (2014-2019), will be tried next year on corruption and money laundering charges.

  • Martinelli and Varela each received court summonses for the August 2023 trial this week. Authorities allege they received bribes from the same Brazilian company at different times. Both deny it.
  • Six former cabinet members will be tried on the same charges at the same time.
  • Martinelli's two sons are already behind bars after being sentenced this summer in the U.S. for receiving bribes. Both pleaded guilty.

2. Mexican women are calling for protests this week over the death of Ariadna López, a 27-year-old from Mexico City whose body was found last Thursday.

  • Authorities claimed López died of alcohol poisoning, but forensic analysis showed she suffered blunt force trauma.
  • Protesters say authorities are trying to cover up the case. Ten women are murdered every day in Mexico.

6.🪅Pachanga: Juan Peñalosa

Illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Juan Peñalosa

Give it up for Juan Peñalosa, who was recently chosen as the new chair of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund!

  • Juan takes over as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary. It's the oldest national LGBTQ human rights organization in the U.S.
  • Juan is a founding member and managing director of Amare Public Affairs.

Congrats!!

Thanks for reading. Thanks to managing editor extraordinaire Margaret Talev and copy editor Carlos Cunha for the help today.