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Latinx Power

The subject of immigration has been propelled to the top of the political agenda in the United States with the arrival of Donald Trump, a strident nationalist, in the White House. His campaign slogans of "America First" and "Make America Great Again" set the tone for his presidency and he has vowed to clamp down on new arrivals from Latin America. With a promise to 'build a wall' along the 1,900 mile US border with Mexico and the imposition of import tariffs on Mexico unless it stops the flow of Latin American migrants into the US, the Trump administration has singled out Latinos in its drive to control immigration into the United States.

Yet amidst this hostile political climate in the country, the Latino community is flourishing in all fields and aspects of American society. From politics to business, Latinos are making their mark on US society where they now number around 57.4 million, or 18 percent of the population, having increased sixfold since 1970. Panos photographers Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet, based in Los Angeles after living in Ecuador for a number of years, worked with veteran journalist Héctor Tobar, himself of Guatemalan Mayan Indian descent, to document and celebrate the diversity of 'Latino Power' in all its incarnations.

In the course of their work on the Latino community they witnessed the daily struggle of many to make themselves visible and demand their rights in a county that has discriminated against them for most of its history. The counterweight to this narrative, however, is a sense of empowerment as America is changing, with current projections predicting a Latino majority by the middle of the century. Perpetuating their culture and their parents' culture while adapting to their surrounding and contributing to society, Latinos have become an integral part of US society. The term Latino can mean a person from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, countries, races, social classes and religions. They now constitute the biggest ethnic minority in the US and are set to consolidate this status.

They worked in three locations - Los Angles, Whittier (California) and Wilder (Idaho). Los Angeles is 45% Latino and the largest Latino community in the United States. Whittier is an affluent suburb of Los Angeles which has become a magnet for upwardly mobile Latinos and is now 66% Latino. Wilder in Idaho, on the other hand, has received media attention when its citizens voted for an all-Latino city council in 2015. Latinos came to Wilder as migrant farm workers in the second half of the 20th century and now make up 76% of the city's population.

A full text by Héctor Tobar is available on request.
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