What does it mean to be “Latino”?

For some people, Latino is the one who dances salsa, merengue, tango or reggeaton. For others, Latino is the one who enjoys sexual, cultural and social life, takes tapitas or works little. Or the one who speaks Spanglish. Or the one who lives in the Mediterranean countries whose languages come from Latin. The possibilities of being Latin are, like colors and cultures, numerous.

“Belonging or relating to the Latin language”. “Natural of the peoples of Europe and America in which they speak languages derived from the Latin”. We are faced with two of the ten meanings that appear in the Dictionary of the Language of the Royal Spanish Academy. But what does Latin mean to Latin Americans?

A common history. “I believe that all Latinos mark the common history shared by the continent, a story that is too similar.” We share a collective imagination, mestizaje, conquest, colonization, the formation of states, “says Marilén Llancaqueo, a graduate of Psychology By the Pontifical University of Valparaíso (Chile) and Mapuche descendant. “As a member of the Mapuche community I feel a direct connection with the continent,” she clarifies.

“When I was exiled in Sweden with my family, because of the Pinochet dictatorship, there was a very powerful union among the Latino community,” he says. “Now it happens the same with the culture, mainly with the literature.” Julio Cortázar, Pablo Neruda, Vargas Llosa … Sometimes we do not know their nationality but they are Latin, “notes Buenos Aires. “The same thing happens with Latin music or cinema.”

Marilén believes that with the pass of the years there has been a folklore of the Latin American peoples. “For many the Latin word has become a registered product that designates a type of music, food, a lifestyle whose main activity is to have fun.”

But at the what being Latino really means is the complete understanding of our heritage, a heritage that doesn’t come from one place but from many, we are mix of cultures, traditions and languages, we as Latinos don’t have an unified identity more than this acceptance and respect of the difference between ourselves.

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