PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Latinos represent the largest minority in Oregon, and during Hispanic Heritage Month, KOIN 6 News is looking at how Latino culture is changing the state.
For two days in September, one family prides itself on giving Portland a taste of Latin America.
Moda Center Commons comes alive with Latino culture for two days of “El Grito,” which translates to “The Scream.”
“This is the largest El Grito celebration on the west coast,” said Antonio Lara with Lara Media Services. “It’s a way to elevate and bring this community at the same level as other communities.”
El Grito celebrates the independence of seven Latin American countries; Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as well as those coming to the U.S. seeking a better life.
The El Grito festival is also a launching pad for Latino small businesses, including Mexican pastry makers La Casa De Mama.
“I think it definitely gave us a sky boost,” said Cesar Cid-Carrera with La Casa De Mama.
Latinos represent 14% of Oregon’s population with more than 600,00 people, a 30% growth over the past decade.
Many of their stories can be found via Lara Media Services. Victoria Lara founded the marketing, media and advertising firm in 1999, connecting Latinos to services and the larger community. Victoria, who became a U.S. citizen earlier this year, also explained how she got her family involved in the business.
“I can be the connector… I can be between the resources and the community, and I said I cannot do this by myself,” she said. “I need help, and my brothers, I call them and (they) start helping me.”
Currently, Lara Media Services is the largest Latina woman-owned marketing agency in the northwest.
Victoria wants her story and success to serve as inspiration for the next generation.
“I want kids, teenagers and other members of the community to see, not just how hard workers we are… but that we came with a dream, and we have opportunities in this country to make it better,” she said.