People en Español's Festival Kicks Off With Maria Elena Salinas and a Powerful Reminder to Vote
People en Español kicked off the sixth edition of its Festival celebration on Friday afternoon with a media event featuring editor-in-chief Armando Correa, publisher Monique Manso, digital executive editor Shirley Velasquez and CBS News journalist Maria Elena Salinas. The event was a preview of what's come at this weekend's event, which will be held at the Armory in NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood. This is the first time Festival has been held in Washington Heights, which Manso described as “the heart of the Hispanic community here in New York.” The event will feature panel discussions, performances, autograph signings, food, and more, and feature stars like Amara La Negra, Jhay Cortez, Ivy Queen, Mariah, Melymel, William Levy, and Denise Bidot.
“This event is meant to shine a national spotlight on the importance of our community and our culture, and more importantly on the great contributions that Latinos have made across all industries and are continuing to make every day in this country,” Manso said on Friday. This year's Festival theme is Junto Somos Más, or Together We Are More, and many of the weekend's events will emphasize the importance of voting and participating in next year's census. “I am Cuban,” Correa said. “I grew up in a country without the right to vote. Since becoming a U.S. citizen, I'm proud to exercise my right to vote. Even my children come with me.”
Salinas, who will be hosting a panel on Saturday, spoke about the importance of using your voice by voting. In 2020, there will be 32 million Latinx voters in the U.S., making Latinxs the largest minority group. “Latinos are beginning to not only be treated as if they were foreigners, but beginning to feel as if they were foreigners in their own country,” Salinas said on Friday. “So we have to remind them that this is their country, too. That we are Americans, too. That they need to use their voice and use their power.”
Frankie Miranda, executive vice president of the Hispanic Federation, also emphasized that participating in the census is “critical and crucial,” and noted that his organization will be at Festival offering resources and information for people interested in becoming U.S. citizens. He was joined by Anne del Castillo, commissioner for the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, who pointed out that New York City has the largest Puerto Rican and Dominican populations in the world outside of their respective islands. “Our city is blessed to have New Yorkers from every corner of the Spanish-speaking world,” she said.
At Friday's event, Festival sponsors Macy's and Coca-Cola also presented two New York students with a total of $10,000 in scholarships for their academic achievements and commitment to service. “At a time when the division between us and them seems more profound, we have to realize that during election time, we need to erase that line between us and them, because we are the same,” said Salinas. “We are no less American. There's no better time to show that.”
Festival, happening Saturday and Sunday in NYC, is free to attend. If you haven't yet registered, you can do so here.