Obama acknowledges Hispanic electoral and political influence in inauguration speech
President Barack Obama's inauguration on Monday had a marked Hispanic accent with the prominent participation of speakers and personalities from the country's biggest minority group, and a pledge to overcome the on-going immigration controversy.
The only Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, swore in Vice President Joe Biden, the poet Richard Blanco delivered the inaugural poem and Episcopal priest Luis Leon gave the sermon complete with a blessing in Spanish.
Likewise Obama spoke in his second inaugural address of the need to find a better way to welcome immigrants and make them a part of US society.
The high-profile Hispanic presence is a reflection of the growing political clout of the country's 52 million Hispanics, who voted in unprecedented numbers in November presidential election, 71% of them for Obama.
Hispanics have had visible roles in many of the events surrounding the inauguration, including Sunday night's gala at the Kennedy Centre with celebrities like Jose Feliciano, Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria, co-chair of the inauguration organizing committee.
Mana, the veteran Mexican rock group, will be joining other top flight musicians to entertain Monday night at the inaugural ball at the Washington convention centre.
Mr President and Vice President, may God bless you all your days said in Spanish Episcopalian priest Luis Leon moments after the two leaders had taken the oath of office, the first words ever uttered in Spanish in a US presidential inauguration.
Reverend Leon, known as the president's pastor, repeated the same words in English, the language he used to deliver the inaugural sermon.
Richard Blanco, a Spanish-born gay poet of Cuban descent, recited a poem written especially for the occasion. Blanco, 44, who was chosen by Obama, is the youngest poet -- and the first Hispanic or homosexual -- to be given the honour of being selected Inaugural Poet.
In his inaugural address, which sets the tone for his next four years in office, Obama touched on one of the issues of greatest importance to Hispanics in the United States -- immigration.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.
Citing his attempt to pass reforms to shorten the route for undocumented migrants to gain US residency, he called for young students and engineers to be enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
Even though he did not fulfil his promise of immigration reform during his first term, Obama ordered the deferral of deportations of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, and gave priority to expulsions of those with criminal records.
Monday’s celebration took place on a national holiday which remebers the birth of of Martin Luther King, the great pacificst leader, world famous for his 1963 massive rally in Washington demanding civil rights for all citizens, an event which changed US modern history.
Obama and Biden repeated the oath at Capitol Hill steps in an open ceremony as tradition indicates, but they were already in exercise of their second mandate since on Sunday they had complied privately with the Constitution which indicates January 20.