January 13, 2001

The Most Influential Latinos Hispanic Trends, a polling firm owned by Hispanic Publishing Group-which also owns HISPANIC Magazine-interviewed 501 registered Hispanic voters representing 48 continental U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The participants were asked, "Who is the Hispanic personality or Latino leader that you consider the most important, the one that you would say has the most influence and credibility with you?" After their answer was recorded, they were read a list of 38 names, including television and Hollywood personalities, congressmen, mayors, and cabinet members, and again asked our original question. The results of both questions were tallied, and the top ten most influential Hispanics in the nation are:

1. Edward James Olmos

2. Henry G. Cisneros: recently formed a new joint venture, American CityVista, with Kaufman and Broad Home Corp., after resigning as president and CEO of Univision Communications, parent company of the nation's top Spanish-language network. (See story in Panorama). He is the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and, in 1981, became the first Hispanic mayor of a major U.S. city when he was elected mayor of San Antonio.

3. Jorge Ramos: He is best known for his journalistic work with the Univision Spanish-language TV network. He has interviewed personalities such as President Bill Clinton, Subcomandante Marcos in Chiapas, and President Ernesto Samper of Colombia. Ramos has a weekly column in 30 newspapers, and his radio commentaries are broadcast in 34 radio stations.

4. Gloria Molina: In her position as chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Gloria Molina regulates the largest U.S. county, with a population of nearly ten million. She is the first Latina in history to be elected to the California State Legislature, the Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Molina served in the Carter White House as a deputy for presidential personnel and later served in San Francisco as a deputy director for the Department of Health and Human Services.

5. Ricardo Montalbán: Ricardo Montalbán became Hollywood's original "Latin lover" in 1947, after which he broke free from these roles and went on to star in more than 80 films. Perhaps best known for playing Mr. Roarke, the mysterious host on the TV series Fantasy Island, Montalbán had one of his most notable big screen roles late in his career, as the villainous Khan in the second installment of the popular Star Trek series film, The Wrath of Khan.

6. Gloria Estefan: Gloria Estefan's music was topping the charts long before Latin music was popular in the United States. Her song Conga even made the Guinness Book of World Records when an estimated 119,000 people did the conga in Miami in 1988 to her song. Estefan has won several Grammy Awards for her best-selling English- and Spanish-language albums. She recently made her acting debut in the 1999 film Music of the Heart.

7. Bill Richardson: Bill Richardson, U.S. Secretary of Energy, is the highest-ranking Hispanic in the U.S. government. Prior to becoming Energy Secretary, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations between 1997 and 1998, following seven terms as a U.S. congressman from New Mexico.

8. Luis V. Gutiérrez: Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois' fourth district was elected to the U.S. House in 1992 and reelected in 1994, 1996 and 1998. He is well known for his unique approaches to getting feedback from his constituents, such as holding "office hours" in local grocery stores to meet with them at times that fit into their busy schedules. He has fought to protect legal immigrants, improve public transportation, and was an early and outspoken proponent of the earned income tax credit.

9. Cristina Saralegui: Although Saralegui is her last name, she is best known as simply Cristina. Her Emmy Award-winning, self-titled program addresses a wide range of issues and is telecast from Miami through the Univision network to an audience of more than 100 million. Once the editor of the Spanish-language version of Cosmopolitan, she launched her own publication, Cristina-The Magazine, in 1991.

10. Lincoln Díaz-Balart: Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart, of Florida's 21st district, had his first political win in 1986 when he was elected to the Florida legislature by the largest margin of victory of any state representative in Florida. In 1994, he became the first Hispanic in U.S. history to be named to the powerful Rules Committee. Lincoln Díaz-Balart drafted much of the legislation that came to be known as the Helms-Burton Law and was the prime author of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997.

For more information at http://www.HispanicTrends.com

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