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Hispanic Heritage Awards Turn 25

Juanes, Chespirito, Hugo Sánchez, Rubén Blades among trailblazers honored for achievements

Hispanic Heritage Awards 2011

— Illustration: Marisa Zanganeh

En español | Latin America’s biggest rock star. A comedian loved by generations. A soccer legend who tallied more than 400 goals over his career. The Hispanic Heritage Awards celebrated their 25th anniversary September 15 by honoring Latino luminaries at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

See also: Hispanic Heritage Month.

My legacy [to you] is what I’ve always done: entertain in a wholesome way. I want people to accept laughter’s value. Laughter is how human beings express their success. People laugh because they understand. [Laughter] is indispensable; it’s a necessity.

Among this year’s honorees: Juanes, a Colombian musician who’s sold more than 12 million albums; Roberto Gómez Bolaños — better known as Chespirito — who, at 82, cracks jokes for 1.5 million followers on Twitter; and Hugo Sánchez, arguably Mexico’s greatest soccer player.
The awards were established in 1986 to spotlight the country’s burgeoning, but still under-recognized, Latino population, said Rudy Beserra, a former White House staffer who helped spearhead the initiative. “We wanted to honor lo mejor de lo nuestro," said Beserra, now an executive at The Coca Cola Company.

Also honored this year were Rubén Blades, salsa band leader and political activist; Jorge Vergara, a movie producer and Mexican entrepreneur who owns the Guadalajara and Chivas USA soccer teams; Elizabeth Molina Morgan, a former national school superintendent of the year; and Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., cofounder of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Next: Bringing Latino leaders together. >>

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