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YEAR IN REVIEW: Myriam Silva-Warren says taunts can't diminish Hispanics' growing role

The numbers do not lie.

Although the statistics always have a margin of error, there is a fact that is true. Hispanics have gone from being a silent minority in the country and even more so in Florida.

One third of Hillsborough residents are Hispanic and one in five households are Spanish-speaking. Yes, that language that many boo when they hear it in public, the language that sometimes is a kind of "Scarlet Letter" for Hispanic immigrants is the same language that brings food to the table because the majority of our farm-workers are Hispanics.

In social media, the abuse of several Hispanics has been reported when they speak their native language. Phrases like "deport it" or "return to your country" are more familiar in recent years. Many of the victims of these insults are not even undocumented. But the stigma exists. And even more so in our political climate.

Regardless, the Hispanic community is diverse and ready to obtain true inclusion in our society and fight for equal opportunity.

An important fact was revealed this 2018, a decisive election year in Florida. The number of registered Hispanic voters reached 2.2 million this year, an increase of 8.4 percent compared to 2016. This is almost double the increase of the last midterm elections.

In 2014, when the registry of Hispanic voters increased 4.6 percent with respect to 2012, according to Pew Research Center.

Even more significant, more than 11 percent of all voters throughout the country are Hispanic.

MORE YEAR IN REVIEW: William March chronicles how Hillsborough turned blue in 2018

Still, there is a need to educate Hispanics about the importance of voting. It's a community that feels underrepresented in political positions, but does not get involved to achieve it.

Hispanics do not vote en masse, at least in the national elections of their adopted home, a land of freedom. However, some Hispanics are allowed to vote in elections of their natives countries and they vote with passion. Examples were the turnouts of area Colombians and Peruvians. Thousands of them went to vote in their respective consulates.

And if you talk about festivities, Hispanics also go en masse, even more so if it's about sports and their favorite, soccer. This year area Hispanics showed that they can fill Raymond James Stadium. The friendly game between USA and Colombia was a record for a U.S. men's team game in Tampa: 38,631 fans, the yellow jersey of the Colombian national team in command.

In contrast, the number of immigrants, especially Venezuelans, has increased in Florida. In July of 2017, the Venezuelan referendum, which was an act to highlight the dictatorship and lack of human rights in the South American country, bought 7,526 Venezuelans, of which 3,424 voted in Tampa and 1,538 in Clearwater, among other points in Tampa Bay.

As we move forward in 2019, let's remember Hispanics are more than a color of skin. They are so diverse and they are here to stay.

Contact Myriam Silva-Warren at mwarren@tampabay.com.

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