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Obama acknowledges Hispanic electoral and political influence in inauguration speech

Tuesday, January 22nd 2013 - 01:35 UTC
Full article 27 comments
The president emphasized the need to find a “better way” to welcome immigrants The president emphasized the need to find a “better way” to welcome immigrants
Reverend Luis Leon congratulated Obama and Biden in Spanish and English, first time ever in an inauguration Reverend Luis Leon congratulated Obama and Biden in Spanish and English, first time ever in an inauguration

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.

Top Comments

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  • you are not first

    Hey Britts, This is called democracy. Grow without little princes, waxed queen, and stolen territories around the world. This is the 21 century. Yeap. I am sorry if for a second I expect too much from you...

    Jan 22nd, 2013 - 02:26 am 0
  • Hepatia

    All of this sticks in the GOP's and Tea Party's craw.

    Jan 22nd, 2013 - 03:59 am 0
  • screenname

    @1 you are not first: i can't help but laugh everytime one of you numptys mentions stolen territories. I have more faith in the inteligence of America's hispanic population than you, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

    By the way, have you ever seen an Episcopalian flag? Luis Leon may be more of an Anglophile than you think.

    Jan 22nd, 2013 - 05:56 am 0
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