Miami, Fla., October 11th, 2016


Good evening,

Thank you, Javier, for the introduction. As many of you know, Mr. Palomarez is an Ohtli recipient himself.

Under his leadership, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has done extraordinary work in promoting Hispanic economic development, and hence, prosperity for American society as a whole.

And I believe this is the conversation we should be fostering to counteract the denigrating lies that are being told persistently about our communities.

A conversation about the true value of Hispanic-Americans and their contributions toward the fulfillment of the potential of this great nation. And Javier, along with other outstanding people, has contributed greatly to this goal.

In this spirit, I invite you all to join him in that effort, to become active agents of change, to disseminate information about who we are: facts about our businesses and entrepreneurship, about our talented and creative youth, about our music. About every single aspect in which Hispanics have enriched and continue to enrich the United States of America.

The truth is that more than 17% of the total population of this country is of Hispanic origin:  55 million people, 36 million of whom are of Mexican origin. It is hard to imagine what that represents in terms of purchasing power, media consumer power, taxes, enrichment of perspectives and ideas. We contribute with almost 10 percent of this nation’s GDP.

Whether others like it or not, part of this country’s success is built upon the Hispanic communities’ accomplishments. Upon achievements of people like Emilio Estefan, who came to this land searching an opportunity for a brighter future; who came to this country to work hard.  

As we all know, Emilio emigrated to the United States from Cuba as a teenager. 

I am certain his journey was not easy, he had to endure the difficult task of leaving behind his country and his family and he had to deal with the cultural and racial differences that have been a part of Latino integration into the U.S.

But in adversity, Emilio grew stronger.

In spite of the challenge, he never lost his sense of humor, humbleness, charisma and transformational qualities, critical elements of Emilio’s success.

He has worked tirelessly to narrow the gap between both cultures with creativity and leadership.

He has paved the way towards a common purpose of what it means to be American. Showing, through his music, that being and becoming an American, is about more than just the way people look, where they come from or the language they speak.

It is about the commitment to a shared goal of a dignified life. As President Obama has aptly put it: “… a higher purpose”.

When Emilio arrived to this country, he fully embraced the responsibilities that come along with this commitment.

For over 30 years, he has proven, for example, that the Latin community is vital for the evolution of pop music.  He has been instrumental in breaking down barriers that were limiting its exposure and acceptance around the world.

An icon in both the music industry and the Hispanic community, Emilio has helped shape the careers of superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ricky Martin and Pitbull, among others, and of course, his wife, Gloria Estefan.

He has also helped empower those whose voices might otherwise remain silent. He has remained committed to the empowerment of Hispanics in the U.S. and when the circumstances demanded it, he stood with the Mexican community and expressed his support without hesitation.

Emilio, you embody the best qualities of our people: hard work, entrepreneurship, leadership and solidarity.

Your career is truly inspirational for all immigrants, from communities that have arrived from all over the world.   For that, it is my true honor to recognize you on behalf of the Government of Mexico, with the Ohtli Award.

The word Ohtli in Nahuatl means “path”, and signifies not only the path to progress, but the perseverance of the traveler. This award serves to honor outstanding individuals who have opened roads for others.

Just the same way you have done and continue to do so with many in need.

A remarkable traveler who has forged a solid path with strength and tenacity. A path that will guide generations to come.

Established almost 20 years ago, the Ohtli Award has become an important symbol of the ties between the Government of Mexico and the Mexican and Hispanic communities abroad. Its core values are altruism and solidarity and it recognizes the efforts to promote the well-being of the communities abroad.

Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate you and celebrate everyone willing to forge a path like yours.

Congratulations on this well-deserved award.


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