Does a Politician Have to Speak Spanish To Be Latino?


San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was the first Latino to keynote the Democratic National Convention and generally received high marks for his words and delivery. Yet, some question his Latino credibility because he does not speak fluent Spanish.
Raul A. Reyes, writing an opinion column at, says ” … it is pointless and misguided to use language as a litmus test of whether Castro is “really” Latino. The truth is that he is fully emblematic of his generation of Hispanics.It is not unusual for a Latino politician to not speak Spanish. Like the rest of us, some do, some don’t. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) are bilingual. Texas Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz told Fox News “My Spanish is lousy.” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval does not speak Spanish either.
Reyes, who is an attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, said “No one – not a politician, not a celebrity, nor an average person – needs to be fully bilingual to be a “real” Latino. Language is only one aspect of our rich culture. Most Hispanics know this; it’s just going to take time before the media catches on. For now, Julian Castro is a political star on the rise – and that’s all that matters.”