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Saturday 22 June 2019


Los Americanos

Latinos, the biggest ethnic minority in the US, still face discrimination


Immigration has been propelled to the top of the political agenda in the United States with the arrival of a strident nationalist, Donald Trump, in the White House.  With his promise to build a wall along the 1,900-mile border with Mexico and the imposition of import tariffs on its neighbour unless it stops the flow of Latin American migrants into the US, the Trump administration has singled out Latinos in its drive to control immigration.

Yet amid this hostile political climate in the country, the Latino community is flourishing. The term Latino refers to people with cultural ties to Latin America. At 57.4 million, or 18 per cent of the population, they now constitute the biggest ethnic minority in the US, having increased sixfold since 1970. Panos photographers Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet, based in Los Angeles after living in Ecuador for a number of years, worked with veteran journalist Hector Tobar, himself of Guatemalan Mayan Indian descent, to document and celebrate the diversity of “Latino power” in all its incarnations.

In the course of their work on the Latino community they witnessed the daily struggle of many to make themselves visible and demand their rights in a country that has discriminated against them for most of its history. Perpetuating their culture and their parents’ culture, Latinos have become an integral part of US society.

Kashinsky and Gachet worked in three locations – Los Angeles, Whittier, California, and Wilder, Idaho. Los Angeles is 45 per cent Latino and the largest Latino community in the country. Whittier is an affluent suburb of Los Angeles which has become a magnet for upwardly mobile Latinos and is now 66 per cent Latino. Wilder, on the other hand, received media attention when its citizens voted for an all-Latino city council in 2015. Latinos came to Wilder as migrant farm workers in the second half of the 20th Century and now make up 76 per cent of the city’s population.

The Castillo family attends the Annual Dia de Los Muertos – Day of the Dead – Art and Music Festival in Whittier. Veronica is with her two boys, Aiden and Samson


Miguel Arredondo arrived from Mexico in 1972 and still has his first American car, the old Chevy in the background. His grandchildren also live in Wilder and the bouncy castle is for their baptism celebration.

Mario Lundes in his bedroom in Los Angeles with his four-month-old daughter, Alexa Sky. Mario has a troubled past, having joined a gang at the age of 13, but sees himself as having a second chance: “I had my little girl and I got married. All that trust, I built it little by little with my family members. I made some really bad decisions in my past. But it’s never too late.”

The Wildcats pose before their homecoming football game at Wilder High School. The team, from Idaho’s poorest school district, is almost entirely Latino.

The interior of a low rider parked outside the Colibri Boutique and Tonalli Studio for an event in Los Angeles.

Jesse Von Borstel, right, cuts hair at Jesse’s Barber Shop on East Cesar E Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. He has been working at the shop for forty years and now owns it.  

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez reaches out to his daughter, Brenda Avelica, after being released from the Adelanto Detention Facility. He had been there for six months after being arrested by immigration officers. His daughter had campaigned for his release.

Antonio Villaraigosa, who was running for Governor of California, at a fundraising dinner in Fullerton. Villaraigosa was the the mayor of LA from 2005 to 2013.

Raul Luna, 61, harvests sweet peas on the Takasugi Seed Farm, where he is manager. He came to the US from Jalisco, Mexico, as a young man with nothing. 

Mariachi Negrete perform at a birthday party in Compton, Los Angeles. The group, founded by Guillermo Negrete from Mexico, and now led by his son Rodrigo, has been playing together for 20 years.

Elvis Navarrete looks for weeds in an onion field in Wilder, wearing a hat that his father brought back from Nayarit, Mexico. These children of migrant farmworkers work the same fields as their parents as a summer job.

Models prepare for a vintage fashion show outside the Eastside Luv bar in Boyle Heights. It is part of a ‘pachuco-boogie’ event, a tribute to 1940s Latino music and culture, at a time when Latinos were routinely excluded from many venues and professions.

Members of the United Methodist Church in Wilder on a Sunday. 

After sitting through a long Mass for their first Communion, a group of girls in La Puente, Los Angeles County, play outside in a garden.

Sandy Ramos, in white,  visits her brother’s grave in Rowland Heights, Los Angeles County. Marco was killed by gang members in 2016. Her other brother, Edgar, is in jail. 

Laura Sermeño and her baby boy celebrate the end of her cuarentena. This tradition, common throughout Latin America, requires new mothers to rest under the care of their relatives for some 40 days after childbirth. The period ends with a mother/child herbal bath and a massage. This ceremony was prepared and guided by her doula Jenny Silva.

Drag queen Valentina, in Boyle Heights, prepares to record ‘Hoy Quiero Confesar’ by Isabel Pantoja as a music video.

The wedding of Joseph and Rachel Porras at the Pacific Palms Resort, east of Los Angeles

People dancing at a quinceanera – or 15-year-old birthday celebration – organised by the Children’s Hospital in Anaheim, LA. Every year the hospital chooses two recipients from their cancer patients and throws a party for them.

Jose Guevara  with his mother at her apartment in East LA. Jose was born in El Salvador and diagnosed with leukemia at 15. At age 21 he received a transplant with bone marrow from his mother. 

Ian Calderon, majority leader for District 57,  and attorney general Xavier Becerra, both Latinos and Democrats, at a public meeting at Whittier College. Trump supporters heckled repeatedly, eventually cutting the event short.  

Jenny Silva at Jo Anna Mixpe Ley’s home for her  traditional ‘cuarentena’ in East LA, a ceremony at the end of her birth cycle. 

Cecilia Valencia, known as The Mamacita, at a Halloween party. Valencia is a host at the KDAY hip-hop radio station. 

Behind the scenes at the GARRAS 2017 fashion show and fundraiser at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, LA, organised by the transgender latino coalition.

Jose Guevara spends time at his boyfriend’s house in Los Angeles. Jose is a DACA recipient, a “dreamer”, who was born in El Salvador and diagnosed with Lukemia at age 15. He is an activist for Healthcare for everyone amongst other causes. 

The Wildcats football team from Wilder High School change in the locker room after practice.  ”Most of our kids live extremely tough lives,” says athletics director Kyle DalSoglio.

A Oaxacan family in Wilmington prepare for a People’s Climate March.  Their traditional costume is from San Bartolome Quialana in the Mexican province of Oaxaca.

Fans gather to see the ceremony to unveil singer Selena’s star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. Selena’s father is of Mexican descent.

Television host Viviana Vigil on the red carpet at a movie premier for the entertainment celebrity page Voto Latino, a non-profit organisation that encourages Latinos to vote.

Latino graduates pose for photos after receiving their diplomas during the Whittier College Commencement ceremony.

Preparations for Cecilia Gomez’s quinceanera at the Whittier Community Centre.

Cecilia Gomez practises the violin the night before her quinceanera at the Whittier Community Centre.

Graduation day at Semillas School, Anahuacalmecac. They regard the term Latino as “pejorative and subordinating” when referring to indigenous peoples.

The Bravo/Ruiz family in their kitchen. Alejandro Bravo is a pastor at the United Methodist Church and came from Michoacan, Mexico, in 1997. He and his wife work on local farms.

Cecilia Gomez during her quinceanera at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Whittier.

Aztec dancers dance from Mariachi Plaza to Gonzalo Mendez High School at the  annual Dia de los Muertos Festival in Boyle Heights.

Family photographs, awards and trophies displayed in the Gomez family home.



Ivan Kashinsky first fell for photography after picking up his father’s Nikon, and eventually went on to obtain a Masters in Mass Communication at San Jose State University. Born in 1977,  he relocated to South America in 2004. In 2009 Ivan set off with his wife and fellow photojournalist, Karla Gachet, on a journey from the equator to Tierra del Fuego, producing together a rolling blog, the book Historias Minimas, and an exhibition which showed at the Centro Cultural Metropolitano in Quito. They now live and work on the West Coast of the US.

Karla Gachet was born in Quito, Ecuador. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and The New York Times.  Her photographs have been exhibited in Ecuador, Guatemala, London, India, Peru, Uruguay, China and the US. Together with Kashinsky, she created the collective Runa Photos (2011), a platform for documentary photography. She currently lives near the City of Angels where she works freelance.