Costa Rica's Independence Day Celebration

Costa Rica’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 15th.  It commemorates the independence of the entire Central America from Spain, which took place in 1821.  The news of the country’s independence reached the nation’s people about a month after the declaration of independence that occurred in Guatemala.

Following the independence, the first constitution of the country was soon embraced.  The celebration of the first elections in Costa Rica was held in December, 1821.  The first elected Chief of State was Juan Mora Fernández, whom did much for the advancement of his country and people, as well as promoted industrial and commercial development.

The Independence Day of Costa Rica has been declared an official national holiday in the country and is celebrated with much joy and cheerfulness.  The national holiday is marked by raising the National Flag, patriotic parades and the singing of the National Anthem. Even though September 15th is Costa Rica’s official Independence Day, festivities begin on the 14th, with the reenactment of the notification of Costa Rica’s liberation carrying the ‘freedom torch’.  At precisely 6:00 p.m., national TV and radio stations broadcast Costa Rica’s National Anthem, as the entire country sings along in a burst of patriotism.  Following the anthem, the popular ‘faroles’ parade begins – homemade lanterns symbolizing the original freedom torch.  Children in traditional costumes perform typical dances and then the fireworks begin.

Another important parade takes place on the morning of the 15th.  School bands march along with children wearing traditional dresses, dancing at the beat of drums and lyres.  During the vibrant and colorful processions, Costa Ricans, young and old alike, sit on sidewalks and enjoy the parade in a peaceful, friendly and family oriented environment.

There is typical Costa Rica food for sale in stands along the roads, such as arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), tamales,  fried yucca,  black beans and rice, fried plantains, rice pudding, coconut flan, and tres leches (three milk cake.)

Independence Day activities at commercial centers and other communal places are also very popular and free to the public, offering folkloric shows, typical dancing, great music and more.


National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month

(Sept. 15-Oct. 15)

National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the culture, heritage, and contributions of Hispanic Americans each year. The event began in 1968 when Congress deemed the week including September 15 and 16 National Hispanic Heritage Week to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community.

The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historic events: Independence Day, honoring the formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15, 1821), and Mexico’s Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control (September 16, 1810). It was not until 1988 that the event was expanded to month-long period, which includes El Dia de la Raza on October 12, which celebrates the influences of the people who came after Christopher Columbus and the multicultural, multiethnic society that evolved as a result; Chile’s Independence Day on September 18 (El Dieciocho); and Belize’s Independence Day on September 21.

Each year a different theme for the month is selected and a poster is created to reflect that theme.


More Latinos Are Going to College, But In Small Number of Schools

While more Latinos are heading to college than ever before, that trend is not increasing uniformly throughout all U.S. colleges, according to a study released Wednesday. In fact, more than six in 10 Latino students attend a small percentage of schools with large Hispanic populations.

A majority of Latinos attended Hispanic-Serving Institutions in 2014-2015 academic year, according to a study by Excelencia in Education, an organization which has been tracking Latino college enrollment since 2004. The number of HSIs increased by 7 percent in the same year and are concentrated in 18 states.

"I think the highlight here is that Latino enrollment in higher education is increasing, but so is the concentration of Latino students on campuses," said Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia.

Out of all colleges and universities in the U.S., 13 percent are classified as HSI and 62 percent of Latino college students attend these schools.

To qualify as an HSI, at least 25 percent of the student body must be Hispanic or Latino. There are 435 institutions in the U.S. that fall into that category. Santiago said when you include "emerging HSIs", which have 15-24 percent Latino enrollment rates, another 310 schools qualify.

California’s growing Latino college population

When Roxana Arguelles transferred last year from a local community college to Cal State Northridge, she did not know that she was benefitting from that university’s identification as an Hispanic Serving Institution. All she knew was that she had received special help in choosing courses for her accounting major, was mentored into a financial industry internship and borrowed some expensive textbooks for free from a special lending library.

Those benefits, she later learned, resulted from a $3 million U.S. Department of Education grant to a new program that seeks to bolster transfers of low-income and Latino students from two community colleges — Pierce College in Los Angeles and College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita — into Cal State Northridge. The effort focuses on getting those students into majors for which there are many unfilled job opportunities after graduation, including accounting, animation, nursing and manufacturing systems engineering.

“If it hadn’t been for the program, I wouldn’t have known what to do when I got to CSUN,” said Arguelles, a Pierce College graduate who is 28 and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. “Having that extra guidance gave me the extra edge and a boost in confidence.”

The schools Arguelles attended are among the rapidly rising numbers of colleges and universities in California and across the nation enrolling enough Latino students to be listed as Hispanic Serving Institutions by two major organizations representing Hispanics in higher education. In general, that means that at least 25 percent of the schools’ full-time undergraduates describe themselves as Hispanic, Latino or other related terms.


Cal State Northridge student Roxana Arguelles

California has the most such schools by far of any state: 163 of California’s two- and four-year, public and private colleges and universities meet that guideline based on 2016-17 figures and are included in the list compiled by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and by Excelenciain Education. That list includes 21 of the 23 California State University campuses and five of the nine undergraduate University of California campuses. That is up from just 91 HSI schools in California in 2008. The state with the next highest number is Texas, with 90 of the 492 such schools nationwide, followed by New York’s 26.

UC Davis in May announced that it expects to be added to the list next spring and 57 more colleges in California are getting close, with at least 15 percent Hispanic enrollment, officials say.

That designation is an important qualification that allows colleges to compete for a variety of limited federal funds, such as the Title V money that is helping transfer students at Cal State Northridge and encouraging more Latinos and low-income students at Cal State Long Beach to enter teaching careers.

Just as important as funding, backers say, the Hispanic designation gives colleges a recruiting tool at a time when 51 percent of California high school graduates are Hispanic and their enrollments in higher education are increasing rapidly. Many Latino families have said that they feel more comfortable sending their children to schools with a substantial Latino population. And some colleges, facing an overall declining population pool, want to tap into the growing Latino market.

The U.S. Department of Education does not publish its own formal list of the schools. And while most colleges with large Hispanic populations are eligible for the extra federal funding, not all are since some grants additionally require that at least half of the overall student body is low-income enough to qualify for such aid as Pell Grants. (Usually that means a family income of less than $50,000 a year.) Similar programs exist for colleges with substantial enrollments of other minority groups, such as blacks, Native Americans and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, although the required enrollment levels and possible funding vary widely.

The Hispanic serving schools gained positive attention earlier this month from a new report by the American Council on Education, an organization that represents about 1,800 colleges and universities. It found that low-income students who enrolled in them and other minority-serving colleges moved further up into the middle class than other similar students elsewhere by age 30. The study tracked incomes but did not specify reasons for those gains, suggesting that further study was needed.

Other research, focused on only Texas, did not find such dramatic gains but also challenged any assumptions that students might be handicapped by attending an Hispanic serving school. That Texas-focused study led by Florida State Universityresearchers found no difference in earnings into their late 20s between Latinos who graduated from a college with the Hispanic-serving designation and those who graduated from a similarly selective college without it.

UC Davis last month announced that it had reached the enrollment threshold to be eligible for the HSI designation, making it likely to be the sixth UC campus to make the list. Officials there said they worked toward that goal by, among other things, recruiting at high schools and community colleges with substantial Latino numbers; colleges insist that urging those students to apply does not violate the state’s ban on racial affirmative action or quotas in admissions decisions.

“Our mission as both a public institution of higher learning and a research institution is to create access for as many students as possible,” said Raquel Aldana, UC Davis’ associate vice chancellor for academic diversity. “Being an HSI helps us signal that we are an inclusive institution that is also excellent.”

The rising number of HSI colleges reflects population and education trends. According to federal figures, 71 percent of Latinos nationwide who graduated high school in 2016 enrolled by the fall in college compared to just 49 percent in 2000; that 71 percent now matches that of whites. The Latino share of undergraduates in the Cal State system rose from 24 percent to 40 percent in the decade ending in 2016.


UC Davis campus

Luis Maldonado, the chief advocacy officer for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, an organization that represents Hispanic serving campuses, said more colleges are embracing that status as a marketing brand to attract, retain and graduate more Latino and low-incomestudents as well as those of various ethnicities who are first in their families in higher education. Beyond a sense that the students would feel welcome there, the emphasis is increasingly on “serving” students, with extra counseling, faculty training, curriculum reform and other efforts.

“It signifies a shift not only with their enrollment but also with the culture of the campuses,” Maldonado said.

While more Latino students are entering college, gaps remain in how many graduate. Among students who entered Cal State as full-time freshman, the four-year graduation rate for Latinos is 16 percent compared to 36 percent for whites; the six-year rate is 54 percent for Latinos and 67 percent for whites.

Federal funding targeted at Hispanic serving campuses totals about $272 million nationwide a year from various sources, such as the U.S. Departments of Educationand Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.

That funding has not kept up with the increase in the number of HSI schools. “There’s not enough money in that pot,” Maldonado said.

At Cal State Northridge, which is located 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the $3 million federal grant to enhance transfers began in fall 2016 and will be spent over five years, expecting to help a total of about 300 students. Beyond the tutoring and mentoring, the lending library for some textbooks helps students financially without violating rules barring direct grants to them.

Juana Mora, the Cal State Northridge professor who is the project’s director, said it is too soon to tout solid statistics but that transfer, retention and graduation rates appear to be improving among participants. “I think it’s paying off,” said Mora, who is also a professor of Chicana/o Studies. (About 48 percent of CSU Northridge undergraduates are Hispanic).

Cal State Long Beach, where 41 percent of students are Hispanic, received a five-year $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education last year to enroll more Latino and low-income students in majors and programs leading to teaching careers. It includes outreach to high school students as well as counseling and recruiting for about 100 university students in the fall.

That and several other HSI-related grants in the past are “enormously beneficial, not only to Hispanic students but enormously beneficial to all our students,” said campus provost Brian Jersky.

The federal grants typically fund pilot programs and innovations that can be shared around campus and with other schools, according to Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education, an organization that researches and promotes Latino achievement in higher education.

Santiago noted that emphasis is increasingly on retention and graduation rates, efforts that dovetail with reforms at California’s community colleges and the Cal State system’s program to dramatically raise graduation rates. “In many ways, I see California leading the way,” she said.

At Cal State Northridge, Alondra Chavarria is studying marketing and management with the help of a peer mentor, early registration and the lending library offered by the HSI-related transfer program. Chavarria, who is 25, took six years to earn an associate’s degree at Pierce College because she was working full-time and is the mother of an 8-year-old son. She was the first in her Mexican immigrant family to graduate from high school and now expects to be the first to earn a bachelor’s degree next spring.

She said she particularly appreciated the advice about which classes to take so she graduates quickly. “I’m a first generation student. So it was great to have someone with experience at CSUN to help me avoid mistakes you can make when you don’t know any better,” she said. “I couldn’t be thankful enough.”



latino food

IRI Examines New Product Purchasing Habits of U.S. Hispanic Shoppers

The Hispanic community is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the nation and spends more than $94.7 billion on CPG products annually. Because Hispanics are one of the most sought-after ethnic groups in the retail grocery market, IRI is diving deeper into last year’s most successful CPG launches to better understand Hispanics and New Product Pacesetters. CPG marketers have a great opportunity to capture more shopping dollars from Hispanic consumers, especially if they understand some key nuances in their attitudes and preferences regarding new products, compared to those of the general consumer population.

“By 2020, Hispanics will account for over half of the population growth in the United States, and their spending power will also increase significantly”

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“By 2020, Hispanics will account for over half of the population growth in the United States, and their spending power will also increase significantly,” said Susan Viamari, vice president of Thought Leadership for IRI. “Unfortunately, most marketers don’t have easy access to detailed information on what Hispanic shoppers are buying, including in key CPG categories. This significantly limits new growth opportunities for brands, so we examined what Hispanics are buying, and even why they are buying products, to help marketers engage with these very important consumers.”

While Hispanic buying power is concentrated in select markets, including New Mexico, Texas, California, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Illinois, their interest in new products is spread across retail departments. Among those consumers who consider themselves avid new product adopters, there is a particular interest in the following departments (English-speaking Hispanics, bilingual Hispanics, Spanish-speaking Hispanics and non-Hispanics):



26%, 29%, 25%, 23%


19%, 20%, 13%, 16%

Beauty/Personal Care:

19%, 24%, 29%, 12%

Home Care:

13%, 20%, 29%, 11%

Health Care:

10%, 13%, 20%, 9%

Pet Care:

9%, 8%, 9%, 6%

Top-Selling Food and Beverage Launches

Based on the most successful CPG launches in the 2017 New Product Pacesetters report, IRI uncovered the top-selling food and beverage products for Hispanic consumers:

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Hispanic Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands
Dollars per Buyer Index: Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic Consumers
(Average = 100)
1. Halo Top® 93
2. Hillshire® Snacking 117
3. Chobani® Drinks 102
4. GOOD THiNS® 111
5. Oscar Mayer® Natural 116
6. Dunkin' Donuts® Iced Coffee 72
7. Cracker Barrel® Macaroni & Cheese 143
8. Birds Eye® Steamfresh® Veggie Made 97
9. SMARTMADE by Smart Ones® 119
10. POWERADE® X ION4® 83

Source: IRI Consumer and Shopper Insights Advantage/Hispanic Specialty Panel

The mix of healthy and indulgent products found in the top-10 ranking truly reflects Hispanics’ attitudes toward eating. For instance, 36 percent of Hispanics say they eat healthy half of the time and eat whatever they want the other half. An additional 36 percent of Hispanic consumers say they eat healthy 80 percent of the time and allow for indulgences 20 percent of the time. So, moderation is the key for most Hispanics.

The top healthy eating considerations vary significantly across Hispanic sectors (English-speaking Hispanics, bilingual Hispanics, Spanish-speaking Hispanics and non-Hispanics):


Avoiding processed foods:

58%, 54%, 31%, 56%

The right mix of different types of food:

44%, 36%, 36%, 42%

Natural foods:

30%, 41%, 24%, 23%

Organic foods:

20%, 19%, 40%, 15%

Include higher-calorie treats in moderation:

10%, 6%, 21%, 11%

Top-Selling Non-Food Launches

Forty percent of Pacesetter brands that hit the mark with Hispanics tout “more natural,” “organic,” “herbal,” or “holistic” attributes, which also helped shape the top-10 non-food ranking:

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Hispanic Top 10 Non-Food Brands
Dollars per Buyer Index: Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic Consumers
(Average = 100)
1. Fancy Feast® Medleys® 149
2. Garnier® Whole Blends 104
3. Carol’s Daughter® 164
4. Herbal Essences® Bio:Renew 100
5. Copper Chef® 95
6. GLISS® Hair Repair® 96
7. Dove® Nutritive Solutions 116
8. Dentalife® 87
9. Red Copper® 105
10. OxiClean HD 140

Source: IRI Consumer and Shopper Insights Advantage™/Hispanic Specialty Panel

Hispanics are looking for new non-food products that provide new health benefits and faster results. Key considerations for new products include (English-speaking Hispanics, bilingual Hispanics, Spanish-speaking Hispanics and non-Hispanics):


Offers longer-lasting relief compared to existing alternatives:

31%, 28%, 32%, 32%

Offers faster relief than existing products:

30%, 25%, 14%, 30%

Treats multiple symptoms:

32%, 33%, 29%, 27%

Appeals to many people in my household:

27%, 28%, 25%, 21%

Offers new health benefits:

26%, 28%, 35%, 21%

“Hispanics are a highly diverse group, based on factors such as age, income, media preferences and language preference — English-preferred, bilingual or Spanish-preferred,” said Staci Covkin, principal of Consumer and Shopper Marketing for IRI. “Attracting Hispanics requires an understanding of these language preferences, along with their digital and social preferences, to quickly see a huge opportunity for CPG across food, beauty, home and health care brands. Aligning a new product launch with the needs of Hispanic shoppers is rapidly becoming a critical success factor for sustained CPG and retail growth, so improved insights and activation of these shoppers can result in significant sales and market share uplift.”

For the complete analysis on Hispanics and New Product Trends, click here. For more information, contact IRI at




Brands that Score Big Reaching Hispanics During the World Cup

Organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the month-long event occurs every four years as 32 national soccer teams contend for the world champion title. As one of the world’s largest sporting events, the World Cup serves as an incredibly effective communications platform spanning across all languages, socioeconomic backgrounds and countries of origin to deliver an intense and emotional affair for soccer fanatics and non-sports viewers alike.

Although the U.S. will not be competing this year, there’s still a great opportunity to connect with an important and growing demographic — Hispanics. U.S. Hispanics, who make up nearly 18 percent of the population, feel tremendous excitement, and passion for the sport and are ready to follow this quadrennial tournament from beginning to end. According to a recent ThinkNow study, nine of ten Hispanics in the U.S. plan to watch the World Cup. The World Cup triggers two core values in the U.S. Hispanic culture: collectiveness and patriotism. Each soccer match gives Hispanics an opportunity to share a communal experience with their loved ones and friends while expressing their national pride.

These three brands that are doing an excellent job reaching the U.S. Hispanic audience through the World Cup.

1. Telemundo: Este mundial lo vivimos juntos por Telemundo (We live this world cup together on Telemundo)

Back in 2011, the Telemundo network bought the exclusive Spanish-language rights to broadcast the 2018 World Cup. As the title suggests, Telemundo is engaging with their viewers by relating to the collective nature of the World Cup. The video’s message is that even though it is a competition and there is rivalry between teams, the event unifies people. The brand also appeals to various segments of the U.S. Hispanic population by showing characters of different ages, genders and ethnicities.

2. Sprint: Sprint gets you in Fútbol Mode

Instead of going for “Soccer Mode,” telecommunications company Sprint aptly named this campaign “Fútbol Mode,” as the game is generally known as “football” in most of the world. Still, given that in the U.S. “football” is associated with American football, they opted for the Spanish spelling of the word. The brand is also engaging in Spanish and English. This is a smart move because a high percentage of U.S. Hispanic consumers are bilingual. In addition, Sprint is targeting their customers’ heritage by holding a contest that gives participants a chance to meet some of the most famous Hispanic soccer players in history, including Colombian Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama and Mexicans Jorge Campos and Claudio "El Emperador" Suárez.

3. Coca-Cola: ¿Listos para el Mundial? (Ready for the World Cup?)

In this ad, Coca-Cola is targeting a specific segment of the Hispanic population. The last time the Peru national football team played in a World Cup was in 1982. After 36 years, the team nicknamed La Blanquirroja (The White and Red) finally qualified and Peruvians could not be more proud. Coca-Cola digs deeper and goes beyond just showing a Hispanic family on a couch watching a soccer match. The brand demonstrates that they understand the nuances of being a fan and what is important for a team like Peru.

The World Cup not only transcends sports, it allows brands the opportunity to reach a massive, diverse audience and connect with them on a deep, emotional level. If you’d like ideas about how to reach the multicultural consumers, we are here to help.


When It Comes To The Language Of Fútbol, Hispanic Americans Know It Best

Around the globe, few things are as ubiquitous as the sport of fútbol, le foot, calcio, or, as it’s called in the U.S., soccer.

While Americans have their own special moniker for it, the sport has certainly made its own imprint in the U.S. Soccer’s influence and power in the world of televised sports is no exception.  Behind this driving force are U.S. Hispanic viewers, whose consumption habits give televised soccer a unique and powerful profile.

So what does that profile look like?

Sports viewership typically varies by race and ethnicity, and for soccer, U.S. Hispanic viewers accounted for the vast majority of viewership in 2017. In fact, Hispanics accounted for an overwhelming 68% of soccer’s viewership during the year, compared to about 12% of viewership to all sports. Over 97 million people watched at least six minutes of a soccer match last year, and over 32 million of them were Hispanic.

When looking at Hispanic TV homes in the U.S. exclusively, about 61% of their residents have watched at least six minutes of a soccer game—more than any other race or ethnicity.

The 61% reach percentage is nearly double that of the U.S. overall percentage. But soccer doesn’t just appeal to Hispanic viewers. In 2017, at least a quarter of all measured races/ethnicities watched soccer, including 30% of African-American viewers and 25% of Asian-American viewers.

Looking deeper into the Hispanic soccer viewer reveals a unique profile—they’re younger than non-Hispanic viewers and Spanish-language dominant.

The compositional breakdown of soccer’s audience reveals that 42% of Hispanic soccer viewers are under the age of 35, compared to 31% of non-Hispanic viewers. Of these young viewers, over a quarter of them are within the key buying demographic (18-34). Moreover, 16% of them are in the 2-17 demo—a group vital to growth and long-term sustainability. For non-Hispanics, about 10% of viewership stemmed from the 2-17 demo.

While soccer attracts a growing and increasingly influential demographic in Hispanics, what may be most intriguing about its viewership is its ability to attract a specific, yet sizeable subset of the demo: Spanish-language dominant Hispanics.

Within the Hispanic homes that watch soccer matches, a whopping 82% of the audience speaks Spanish as their dominant language, whereas only 13% speak English as their main language.

Notably, Spanish-dominant viewers have seemingly had a large impact on how and where soccer matches are viewed. Of all persons watching the matches, one-third of its gross minutes are viewed on English-language networks, whereas the other two-thirds are spent on Spanish-language networks.

While a large audience of Spanish-speaking viewers may evidently correlate with increased viewing to Spanish-language networks, what might easily be overlooked is the contribution from English-speaking viewers. Hispanic viewers who speak only English spent a majority of their soccer viewing time via English-language networks—but not by much.

About 40% of their soccer viewing was done on Spanish language networks, a sizeable portion considering the language difference. When looking at Hispanic viewers who speak mostly English, the share of their soccer viewing on Spanish-language networks ballooned to 83%. In essence, Spanish-language networks reached their main audience by televising soccer matches, but with the added benefit of bringing in adjacent English-speaking crowds as well.

Soccer, as it seems, successfully crosses language barriers in U.S. television programming and can bring advertisers closer to the booming Hispanic demographic, no matter what their language preference.


Universe Estimates (000): Composite: 304,500. Hispanic: 53,159. Non-Hisp White: 190,838. Non-Hisp Black: 38,639. Non-Hisp Asian (Non-Black, Non-White): 13,271. Non-Hisp Other (Non-Asian): 5,694.

The insights in this article were derived from the following source:

  • Nielsen NPower Program Report, Dec. 26, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2017. Based on live soccer games live+7. Repeats, programs <10 minutes and sustainers have been excluded. All programs based on sports event summary type codes. Reach and frequency based on 6+ minute qualifier.


Source: Nielsen

US Hispanics

Let's talk about US Hispanics

About US Hispanics

The demographics of Hispanic and Latino Americans depict a population that is the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, 52 million people or 16.7% of the national population, of them, 47 Million are American citizens.

We found this interesting video about US Hispanics and we would like to share it with you.

if you want to watch more videos like this one:

Poet's Pacific paradise: Pablo Neruda’s homes in Chile

"If we walk up and down all the stairs of Valparaíso we’ll have walked all round the world.” Poet Pablo Neruda was alluding to the cosmopolitan vitality of Chile’s second city, chief port and most romantic – and likeable – metropolis. He might also have been referring to the workout you get hiking around “Valpo” – as locals dub it. Spread over 42 hills, its mansions, houses, shanties and steep, cobbled roads are a sea-facing sprawl. When you get lost and hot, it’s a relief to stumble on one of the four ascensores – funicular lifts – which cut out some of the climbing.

I’d been to Valpo before, to eat ceviche and enjoy fine wines from the nearby Casablanca valley, but this time I mainly wanted to explore the relationship between the city and Chile’s Nobel prize-winning poet. A new film, Neruda, starring Luis Gnecco and Gael García Bernal, goes on general UK release on 7 April. That and a new direct flight this year from Heathrow to Santiago international airport (an hour or so from Valparaíso) is bound to revive interest in Chile’s second city.

I began my mini-pilgrimage 84km south of Valparaíso, at Isla Negra. This is not an island at all, but a gorgeous beach spot where, in 1944, Neruda started building a house where he could work on his masterpiece, Canto General, and throw parties. It took two architects, with their demanding client advising, around 20 years to complete the house. Neruda travelled around Chile and overseas as senator and leading communist party member. He was also exiled for several years in Buenos Aires and Mexico. But, as Neruda put it: “The house kept growing, like people, like trees.”

La Casa de Isla Negra, the poet’s beachside home.
 La Casa de Isla Negra, the poet’s beachside home. Photograph: Alamy

Every 10 minutes, up to 14 people are allowed into his Casa de Isla Negra, which they tour with an audioguide. The commentary is academic in detail and, if inevitably positive about Neruda, still enlightening. The house is a marvel, with rooms decorated according to the writer’s passions. One living room is shaped like a ship, another like a train carriage. Huge figureheads jut out at every turn, and ships in bottles fill windowsills. Neruda was an avid collector, of bottles, shells, insects, butterflies and, from the looks of his wardrobe, tweed jackets, ponchos and hats.

With its ship-like narrow corridors and steep staircases, vivid paintwork, and mismatched and modernist furniture, the house doesn’t look dated at all. It evokes a Neruda who was playful, whimsical and – for a communist – a lover of luxuries. To entertain friends, he had a large bar built, and he liked his guests to come in fancy dress, on themes he dictated.

Immature? Maybe, but as Neruda said: “The man who does not play has lost the child within him.”

Luis Gnecco as Pablo Neruda in a still from the film.
 Luis Gnecco as Pablo Neruda in a still from the film.

Outside the house is Neruda’s tomb, and below it a stunning rocky beach. Even on a day of low wind, surf was crashing, turquoise with frothing white tops, and the light magical. I asked a Brazilian woman to take my photo and, unbidden, she poured forth her feelings for Neruda. “I’ve been in tears. This is such a magical place. I’ve been wanting to come here for years.”

I’m not sure any European poet has quite this effect on people. Nor can her passion be written off as typical of Latin Americans. A little later, at the cafe (where Neruda-label wine was on offer), a local woman, when I mentioned my Brazilian friend, witheringly exclaimed, “Que tontita!” “How silly!” Neruda divides opinion, especially in his home nation. One local told me at least a third of Chileans are pro-Pinochet, which makes them anti-Neruda.

After lunch at a roadside restaurant, it was on to Valparaíso to visit Neruda’s hilltop house, La Sebastiana (named after its original owner, Sebastián Collado) where he held a big housewarming party in September 1961. Neruda liked to celebrate New Year’s Eve there and, taking in the view from the top floor, I could understand why. By day, you see Valpo’s colourful wooden houses and shacks tumbling down to the port; by night, they become a host of tiny lights, mirroring the Milky Way above.

Pablo Neruda in 1952
 Pablo Neruda in 1952. Photograph: Allstar Picture Library

This less cluttered, more sophisticated house (another good audioguide was provided) suggests further sides of Neruda’s personality. Antique maps and art, and screens from Asia, tell of his exotic travels. A large portrait of Walt Whitman honours a major influence. Another, of Lord Cochrane, reminds us of Scotland’s links with Chile’s independence wars. An antique merry-go-round horse evokes the child again, or the nostalgist. The walls are painted in lively blues and pinks, to “make them dance”, according to a poem about La Sebastiana.

Sunshine pours into the higher floors, and the eyrie-like feel of his working space – his chair stained with green ink – reminded me of Dylan Thomas’s shed in Laugharne. Both men were hedonists, womanisers, socially extrovert; both needed hideaways to get down to writing.

“I feel the tiredness of Santiago,” he wrote. “I want to find in Valparaíso a little house to live and write quietly. It must meet certain conditions. It can’t be located too high or too low. It should be solitary but not excessively so.”

La Sebastiana, Neruda’s house in Valparaiso.
 La Sebastiana, Neruda’s house in Valparaiso. Photograph: Alamy

His builders nailed it. La Sebastiana is the ultimate city home: peaceful and aloof, but boasting a view of Valparaíso. And it’s a convivial, colourful place, too. But, as anyone will tell you, Valpo lacks major museums and other attractions. As well as being great fun and quite inspiring, Neruda’s poetic pads are obligatory stops for anyone keen to understand Chile and its recent history. It was at Isla Negra that his poetry and politics came together. It was in La Sebastiana that he came to global prominence. The houses speak to their settings, merge with them, reshape them in their window frames.

“I love Valparaíso,” wrote Neruda. “Queen of all the world’s coasts,/True head office of waves and ships,… I love your criminal alleyways.”

I loved it too. From La Sebastiana, I made my way back to my hotel on foot – downhill – via lanes and staircases, past walls bursting with street art, via tiny bars and shadow-filled plazas. The “crazy port” made more sense now; Neruda did too.

Isla Negra and La Sebastiana are not the only Neruda-linked sites in Chile. Santiago’s Bellavista neighbourhood boasts a third house, La Chascona, also worth a visit. Neruda was born in Parral, in the wine-growing Maule region, and brought up in the southern city of Temuco (which has a dedicated walk). As a diplomat, he spent time in Mexico, Catalonia, British-ruled Burma (“I still hate the English,” he wrote), Ceylon, Java and Singapore. The ultimate globetrotting troubadour, Neruda exerts a powerful appeal for travellers. But do go and visit his two favourite seaside houses, and his beloved Valpo. Even if you don’t feel you’ve quite circled the globe, you’ll have seen something of his poetry-filled world.

 Ch$7,000 (£8.65) per person per house; audioguides in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. More info at

 Neruda is released in UK cinemas on 7 April

Source: Announces Launch of Financial Platform for Latinos in the United States

Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1, 2018 – launched as an educational personal finance resource for the Latino community in the United States. The website exposes day-to-day banking issues, such as the complex world of credit cards, the comparison of banking services and credit unions, explained in Spanish in a simple way so that users understand the “fine print” of bank contracts.

Established in the growing technology region of Silicon Slopes, south of Salt Lake City, Utah, Banqos unveiled its financial web platform on May 1st of this year. is an initiative of Juan Carlos Pinto, previously in private banking with the financial giant JP Morgan Chase in Silicon Valley, California. Mr. Pinto, with more than 10 years of experience in the financial industry, decided to break into the digital world by educating Latinos about U.S. banking institutions, with meticulously selected information in Spanish.

“Having many financial sources in English is great, but a large segment of the Hispanic community prefers information in Spanish. We are still behind in being financially informed compared to the rest of the population. With, we want to help close that gap, “explains Mr. Pinto.

The platform offers verified articles from financial institutions, government agencies and banking agents, in which they not only provide an objective perspective of the information but also include personal experiences of their collaborators and users to give them a more personal touch.

At this time, reliable resources to compare and choose banks, credit cards, prepaid cards, and credit unions are mostly available in English only. The Hispanic community is often ignored, which is unfortunate because the purchasing power of this sector is almost $ 2 billion.

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