Bella Vida by Letty


Celebrating International Women’s Day

Eva Peron Quote

International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s.  It’s a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.  Throughout the day there are many events going on around the world.  My contribution is a roundup of inspiring quotes by Latinas.

The world is full of strong brilliant women who have had to overcome.  Their stories are not found in history books. The voices which have been marginalized in mainstream media are the ones I chose to highlight in this space.  

While many milestones have been achieved the reality is women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts,  are not present in equal numbers in business or politics.  On a global level women’s education, health and violence against them is worse than that of men.  This is unacceptable.  Let us be inspired to continue striving for equality  because we deserve it, out daughters deserve it and the whole world needs it to happen.  

Julia de Burgos quote

justice sonia sotomayor quote

celia cruz forgive quote

dolores huerta quotes

What are some of your favorite quotes from strong women?

Please share the quotes that inspire you because it is sure to inspire others and ignite change.

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Latinas and Cancer: “I do not feel any less of a woman,” said Angelina Jolie of her double mastectomy.

Angelina Jolie  Actor and director Angelina Jolie revealed she has successfully undergone a preventative double mastectomy which she describes in uncensored detail in today’s New York Times.  I commend her for having the courage to step forward publicly, especially when working in an industry which more often than not treats women as objects and measures them by their body parts.

Jolie’s mother died of cancer after battling with it for ten years at the young age of 56.  Knowing her history she took the proactive step of testing for mutations of the breast cancer susceptibility gene, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which can be inherited.  In normal cells these prevent uncontrolled cell growth whereas mutation of these genes have been linked to the development of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.  After testing, Jolie’s doctors concluded she had 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer.  She then took the proactive measure of having a double mastectomy dropping her risk to only 5%.

 Who should consider getting tested?

In a family with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, it may be most informative to first test a family member who has breast or ovarian cancer. If that person is found to have a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, then other family members can be tested to see if they also have the mutation. Source

In her own words:

“For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”   Angelina Jolie

This is a great opportunity to address the issue of cancer in the Latino community so let’s look at some statistics.

Cancer Statistics for Latinas

A high proportion of Hispanic women are uninsured (about 30%). Uninsured Hispanic women with breast cancer are more than twice as likely as other women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in advanced stages. The disease is more difficult to treat successfully when it is diagnosed in its advanced stages, and survival rates are lower.

Latinas also face other barriers to health care, including difficulties with language, transportation, child care, immigration status and cultural differences.

breast cancer statistics in the latino community

  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic American/Latina women.
  • Latinas are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women who are diagnosed at a similar age and stage. Some ethnic and racial groups have been less likely to receive breast cancer screening, and thus their breast cancers are often diagnosed at later stages. This later diagnosis increases the chance of dying from breast cancer.
  • Latinas women have a lower incidence of breast cancer than white women, however, they are more likely to be diagnosed with larger tumors and late stage breast cancer .
  • Lack of medical coverage, barriers to early detection and screening, and unequal access to improvements in cancer treatment may contribute to observed differences in survival.
  • Recent research indicates aggressive breast tumors are more common in younger African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino women living in low socioeconomic areas. This more aggressive form of breast cancer is less responsive to standard cancer treatments and is associated with poorer survival.

cervical cancer statistics in the latino community

  • Latinas have the highest cervical cancer incidence rate.
  • The disproportionate burden of cervical cancer in Hispanic/Latino and African American/Black women is primarily due to a lack of screening.
  • Persistent infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the major cause of most cases of cervical cancer. An HPV vaccine is now available that targets two strains of the virus that are associated with development of cervical cancer and account for approximately 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer worldwide. This vaccine prevents infection by two HPV strains and has the potential to reduce cervical cancer-related health disparities both in the United States and around the world.  Source

What You Can Do

As you can see some of these statistics can be turned around by being proactive.  Be an advocate for your health care. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, become informed about your diagnosis, treatment, and long-term follow-up care.  If you are age 40 or above, get regular mammograms and breast exams and spread the word to women you know to do the same. Getting the HPV vaccine is yet another preventative measure.  Another suggestion is go with a friend or family member and get screened together.  Participate in making decisions about your health.


Please feel free to share suggestions and resources in the comments.



National Alliance for Hispanic Health:

The National Cancer Institute:

Susan G. Komen .org

Breast Cancer .org

Report: Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos 2009-2011



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Empowering Latina Voices: Film Maker Fanny Velez

 photo homebound_zps5508053a.jpg

Latinos are no longer waiting for corporate media conglomerates to wake up and smell the coffee. With the tools at our disposal we are taking matters into our own hands and creating our own opportunities. Filmmaker Fanny Veliz did precisely this and raised funds to shoot her first feature film. Now that the film is completed she has created yet another opportunity for you to get involved with your local communities to create positive change.

Please read the following press release and contact Ms. Veliz with any questions.

Indie Film “Homebound” Uses Community Screenings to Raise Audience Awareness
Filmmaker Fanny Véliz wants to bring the Hollywood machine to her.

Los Angeles, CA – January 7th, 2013 – Writer/Director and actress Fanny Véliz raised production funds to shoot her first feature film, Homebound last year, through the increasingly popular internet crowd funding method. Now that the film is complete she is turning to the community once again with a unique concept.
“Use my film to raise funds for your organizations, it’s a win-win situation.” Says Véliz. The goal is to show to Hollywood that there’s a hungry audience out there ready for a film like HOMEBOUND.  It is about empowering the community to empower filmmakers to tell the Latino stories Hollywood chooses to neglect.

“I’m committed to helping transform the image of Latinos in the media by telling stories that aren’t usually told,” says Veliz. “We are all used to seeing stories of immigration, gangs, and other stereotypes, this film shows another side of the American Latino. Homebound is an American story, a human story told with an American Latino cast.”  Homebound tells the story of Richard Lynn, a successful young Latino business professional who returns to his small hometown in Texas to help his dying father. His father insists he take over the family business, a bar. Secretly, the young man wants to burn down the bar because he blames it for the death of his own mother and the illness of his father. In the process he rediscovers his childhood’s small town and falls truly in love for the first time.

The film features a cast of seasoned actors which includes Enrique Castillo, whose work in such films as El Norte, Mi Familia and the cult classic Blood In Blood Out have made him a fan favorite among Latino audiences and his role in Showtime’s Weeds has made him a hit among mainstream audiences. Texan born Julia Vera, who has built a career as a character actress in film and television for over twenty years is not only an actress in Homebound, she is also invested in the film as an associate producer. Richard Lynn is played by a dynamic young actor, Jeremiah Ocañas, who not only plays the lead, he is also a native El Campo, Texas, where the film was shot. El Campo served not only as the prime location, but its citizens helped facilitate permits, meals, lodging, a source of talent pool for minor roles and the extras, and even a helicopter needed for the shoot. Fanny Véliz, in addition to her producing, writing, and directing duties also plays the female lead in the film.

Community is at the centerpiece of this undertaking. It takes a community, and Véliz is hoping to once again enlist community and embrace the film through the “Community Screenings” concept, and help them raise awareness of the film.

The production company is currently looking for organizations, companies or individuals nationwide that would like to host a “Community Screening” of the film. They would need to commit to create a screening, which would raise money for their own Non-Profit organization or other Non-Profits they wish to benefit. Each host will receive a Homebound Party Pack that will take them step by step on how to tailor the event to the Homebound theme.

To sign up to host a Screening of Homebound in your city please email:[email protected]
For more information on the film Homebound go to

Homebound Official Trailer

Why is it important to support this film?
The success of this film opens doors for new voices creating more opportunities.
 Let’s support each other and grow.

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American Latina Firsts in US Government

Politics: a process by which groups of people make collective decisions.

In 2012 women hold 90 of 535, 16% of seats in Congress; 72 of 317, 22% of statewide elective executive office positions.(Source)  Women in the US have not achieved equality. Do not be fooled. You have work to do.  The self entitled attitude of thinking that our mothers did enough is not only arrogant but dangerously self defeating.  If you want respect, stand up and be respected.  If you want rights, stand up and demand them.

“The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.” Bella Abzug

To celebrate Women’s History month I would like to share a few of the intelligent women who are changing the world by being the first Latina women to occupy US government positions.


Governor Susana Martinez

Susana Martinez. A Republican, Martinez is the first female governor of New Mexico as well as the first female Hispanic governor in the United States.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor is the Court’s 111th justice, its first Hispanic justice and its third female justice to serve on the Supreme Court. .


Hilda Solis

Hilda Solis, the first Latina Secretary of Labor.


Sisters Linda & Loretta Sanchez

The election to Congress of Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in 2002 meant that for the first time, two sisters served together in the House. Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) was first elected to the House in 1996.


Sila Calderon

Sila Calderon (Popular Democratic Party), former mayor of San Juan, became the first woman governor of Puerto Rico.


 Antonia Novello

Antonia Novello. Novello is the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as Surgeon General


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is currently the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House, and was the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. She is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, effective 2011.


Romana Acosta Bañuelos

Romana Acosta Bañuelos was the first Hispanic treasurer of the United States and owner of a multimillion-dollar business, Ramona’s Mexican Food Products, Inc. headquartered in Gardena, California.

Can you find the similarities between these women and yourself or someone you know?  These are the faces of our community.  They were elected to represent us and our needs as American citizens.


“I think it’s about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we’ve been voting for boobs long enough.” Clarie Sargent
“Women are not inherently passive or peaceful. We’re not inherently anything but human.” Robin Morgan
“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” Roseanne Barr
“I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament.” Alanis Morissette


Synonyms: affairs of state, backroom, campaigning, civics, domestic affairs, electioneering, foreign affairs, government, government policy, hat in the ring, internal affairs, jungle*, legislature, matters of state, political science, polity, smoke-filled room, statecraft, stateship

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