Geopolitics Is In Play in U.S. Politics, Especially in Florida

by Bobby Reyes

| Photo by Army Sgt. Nina Ramon via Wikimedia Commons

Part LV of the “EDEN America” Series

Geopolitics studies the effects of Earth’s geography on politics and international relations. Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish political scientist, about the turn of the 20th century, originally coined the word “geopolitics. Its use spread throughout Europe between World Wars I and II (1918–1939). Then it came into worldwide use after 1945.

The United States population exceeds 330 million and is the world’s biggest melting pot. These answers will pop out in several seconds if you Google what American urban centers are its biggest “melting-pot” cities.

The top seven cities on the list:

New York City – 99,153 (14.3 percent of total)
Los Angeles – 62,373 (9 percent)
Miami – 55,560 (8 percent)
Chicago – 27,670 (4 percent)
San Francisco – 22,046 (3.2 percent)
Washington, D.C. – 20,591 (3 percent)
Boston – 18,834 (2.7 percent)

The top five metropolitan areas with the most significant Hispano/Latino (combined) population:

New York, N.Y. – Hispanic Population: 2.27 million.
Los Angeles, Calif. – Hispanic Population: 1.8 million.
Houston, Texas – Hispanic Population: 908,000.
San Antonio, Texas – Hispanic Population: 807,000.
Chicago, Ill. – Hispanic Population: 774,000.

On the other hand, among the most prominent American cities with a Hispanic/Latino (combined) majority in 2020, the top five are San Antonio, Texas (population 1.43 Million), El Paso, Texas (pop. 679 Thousand), Fresno, California (pop. 542 Thousand), Miami, Florida (pop. 442 thousand), and Bakersfield, California (pop. 403 thousand).

Are Latin Americans and Hispanics the same thing? The online site “Courageous Conversations” says, “Hispanic and Latino are often used interchangeably though they actually mean two different things. Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations, while Latino refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America.”

“Hispanic” is generally accepted as a narrower term that includes people only from Spanish-speaking Latin America, including those countries/territories of the Caribbean or from Spain itself.

Some online sites answer the question, “Who is considered Hispanic American?” The sites generally say “that they may be of African, Native American, or European ancestry or a combination of those ancestries. Hispanic Americans trace their origins to more than 20 countries. The two largest groups of Hispanics are Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans. More than half of all Hispanic Americans are of Mexican ancestry.”

In 1962 while this writer was a freshman in the Liberal Arts Department of a Benedictine-run college in Manila, Philippines, the same question (“who was Hispanic, who was Latino”) was asked by our professor, a Benedictine monk who was teaching the “Spanish I” subject. The professor told us almost the same reply as “Courageous Conversations‘.” I wanted to disagree with him, but the bell rang to end the class period.

“Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations, while Latino refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America.”

But nearly 60 years ago, this would-be journalist came up with a plausible answer why people from South America are called “Latinos.”

Here’s why. I followed the monk-professor to the faculty lounge and discussed in private my “research” about the “Latinos.” I explained to him that I first learned the meaning of “Latinos” from my high-school Latin teacher, Rev. Fr. Panfilo Gianan, SVD, (now deceased), who was also our high-school rector and history tutor.

According to Fr. Gianan, “Latin America” was coined because of two primary factors: First, Brazil was originally a Portuguese colony. Remember that Brazil was a colony and part of the Portuguese Empire from the 16th to the early 19th century. Hence, Brazilians eventually spoke not Spanish but, of course, Portuguese. And second, so many immigrants from Italy (the seat of the Roman Empire) settled in Argentina, and many of them spoke three-to-four languages: Italian, Latin, and Spanish, if not also Portuguese. But of course, all of the three tongues started as dialects supposedly of the Latin language.

The Benedictine professor was impressed with the hypothesis that I learned in high school. But he cautioned me not to tell, oops, “lecture” other Spanish-language professors. Why? Because he said that I was just starting college and I was not (yet) a linguist and, or a historian but an aspiring journalist. In short, it was a piece of good advice: “Not included in your pay grade. “

But the said Spanish monk-professor and I became good friends. Because he originally hailed from Samar Island, just across the San Bernardino Strait, and it faces my home province of Sorsogon, the southern end of the big island of Luzon. The professor, Rev. Fr. John Garduce, OSB (now deceased), was always thrilled when I called him “the Samaritan monk.” Yes, instead of “Samarnon” (as the people of Samar are called). He would tease me, “You’re not a biblical scholar either.”

Remember the 1989 alleged media joke about Dan Quayle and his trip to Latin America? And how he allegedly said it made him wish he had studied his Latin seriously in high school so he could have communicated better with the people down there? When I first heard it, I literally jumped with joy. And I wanted to apply as Vice President Quayle’s speech writer, Because I could have explained better (than Mr. Quayle’s writers) what Fr. Gianan’s told his students that Latin Americans spoke Latin (or Italian or Portuguese) or some variations of the Roman Empire’s language in South America. But not Spanish (as the primary language).

By next Wednesday, we will discuss how the 2022 gubernatorial race in Florida may be decided by the geopolitical profiles of the leading candidate of both major political parties. This columnist thinks that the Hispanic-American population, especially its women voters and their family members, may deliver the swing votes for the eventual winner because of geopolitical considerations.

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