Translate Our Site

Notable Hispanics

Hispanics of New Mexico Today: Diversity

As described in the Albuquerque’s Human Rights Board’s Hispanic
Month Resolution, the word Hispanic serves as an umbrella term for
people of Spanish descent or origin with roots and traditions from
many different cultures and nations. The federal government considers
race and Hispanic origin to be two separate and distinct concepts.
Both census questions are based on self-identification. Also the Census
Bureau uses the definition for Hispanic from the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) which includes persons of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto
Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin
regardless of race. The Census Bureau says that: “Ancestry refers to a
person’s ethnic origin, heritage, or the place of birth of the person or
the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United
States.” The lovely mosaic Hispanic population of New Mexico by
country of origin or ancestry according to the 2000 Census follows.

Hispanic or Latino by Specific Origin

Total New Mexicans 1,819,046
Not Hispanic or Latino 1,053,660
Hispanic or Latino 765,386
Mexican 330,049
Puerto Rican 4,488
Cuban 2,588

Dominican Republic 147
Central American 2,318
Costa Rican 142
Guatemalan 703
Honduran 230
Nicaraguan 212
Panamanian 375
Salvadoran 514
Other Central American 142
South American 1,922
Argentinean 171
Bolivian 100
Chilean 252
Colombian 550
Ecuadorian 196
Paraguayan 17
Peruvian 330
Uruguayan 20
Venezuelan 145
Other South American 141
Other Hispanic or Latino 423,874
Spaniard 1,984
Spanish 74,190
Spanish American 18,299
All other Hispanic or Latino 329,401 

Other Notable Hispanos & their Achievements

In addition to those individuals already named in the text of this
booklet, there have been many others who contributed significantly to
the colorful history of the Southwest. This list of notable Hispanos is by
no means complete. Indeed, many more names could have been
added. No slight is intended by omission. This partial listing only shows
that New Mexico has no shortage of Hispanos who have contributed to
our communities, our state, our country, and the world.

Ben D. Altimirano — continuously longest serving Senator from
1971 to present.

Toney Anaya — the attorney general of New Mexico from 1975 to
1978 and governor from 1983 until 1986 grew up as one of 10
children in Moriarty. While attending American University, he worked
for Senators Dennis Chávez in 1959 and Joseph Montoya from 1966
to 1969. As governor of the state, he expanded his activities to include
involvement in national Hispanic politics. He’s recognized as having
the most ethnically and gender diverse cabinet in New Mexico’s history
to date.

Dr. Francisco Angel Jr. — this well-known bilingual educator
became the first Hispano president of a four-year university in the
history of the United States when he accepted the job in 1971 at New
Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, NM.

Jerry Apodaca — was governor of New Mexico from 1975 to
1978, the first Hispano governor since Octaviano Larrazolo left office
in 1920. After his term ended, President Jimmy Carter appointed
Apodaca chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and
Sports. Born in Las Cruces, he founded Vista Magazine and was the
first publisher of Hispanic Magazine. He also served on the Univerisity
of New Mexico’s board of regents from 1985 to 1991.

Manny M. Aragón — served as president pro tempore of the New
Mexico State Senate from 1988 to 2000. He has been majority floor
leader since 2002.

Colonel Diego Archuleta — was one of the main leaders of the
Mexican Army in New Mexico in 1846 against the United States
forces under Col. Sterling Price.

Dr. Anselmo F. Arellano — this historian, researcher, writer has
earned renown as “the people’s historian.” He produced many
important books about people, places, and events which have shaped
northern New Mexico. A native of Springer, he is a former professor
of history and Chicano studies at New Mexico Highlands University.

Lt. Gen. Edward D. Baca — after a career in the New Mexico
National Guard with a tour of duty in Vietnam, he became the Adjutant
General of the New Mexico National Guard on January 4, 1983. He
was chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.,
from 1994 until 1998.

Joseph F. Baca — served as Chief Justice of the New Mexico
Supreme Court 1996 and 1997.

María Gertrudes Barcelo (1800-1852) — is renowned as a
businesswoman and casino owner in Santa Fe.

Juan Guerrero Burciaga (1926-1995) — served as United States
District Court Judge and Chief Judge for the United States Court for
the District of New Mexico. He was appointed by President Jimmy
Carter in 1979.

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (1898-1991) — this writer and
influential Hispana graduated from New Mexico Normal University
(Highlands) in 1921. She published Historic Cookery and We Feed
Them Cactus.

Fernando E. Cabeza de Baca — a former special assistant to
President Gerald Ford, de Baca stayed deeply involved in veterans
affairs, especially in New Mexico.

Santiago E. Campos (1926-2001) — was appointed by President
Jimmy Carter in 1978 as Chief Judge of the United States District
Court for the District of New Mexico, becoming the first person of
Spanish descent to sit on the federal district court bench for the state.

Soledad Chávez Chacón — this political pioneer was the first
New Mexican Hispana elected to statewide public office. She was New
Mexico’s Secretary of State from 1923 to 1926.

Linda Chaves — a consultant for the Reagan administration, she
was appointed to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Cháves was
promoted to the White House Office of Public Liaison and was the
highest-ranking Hispana in the Reagan administration.

Dennis Chávez — this champion of civil rights was, in 1935, the
first Latino elected to the Unites States Senate. Nine years later, he
introduced the first fair employment practice bill which played an
integral role in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Lola Chávez de Armijo (1858-1929) — was State Librarian in
1909. She filed and won the first labor law suit based on gender
discrimination in 1913.

Edward A. Chávez (1917-1995 ) — a self-taught artist, born in
Wagonmound, Chávez painted murals for post offices and other
government buildings from 1939 to 1943.

Francisco Xavier Chávez — was Governor of Nuevo Mexico
shortly after Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821.

Lt. Colonel José Franciso Chávez — this officer in the Mexican
and United States armies, fought in the Indian War and the Civil War
along with Kit Carson, and was the first Secretary of Education for
New Mexico. He was assassinated at Indian Wells.

Martín J. Chávez — this attorney and former New Mexico State
Senator (1989 to 1993), was mayor of the City of Albuquerque from
1993 to 1997 and from 2001 to present.

Rubén Cobos — this professor, an inductee in the New Mexico
Folklore Hall of Fame, is well known for researching and writing A
Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish. He was
born in Coahuila, México, and raised in San Antonio and Albuquerque.

Fray Escalante and Fray Domínguez — these Franciscan friars
explored and established the Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to Los
Angeles in 1776.

Aurelio Espinoza —was a principal Hispano linguist and folklorist
of the latter 1800s and early 1900s.

Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811) — a man of
liberal thought who once taught theology, philosophy, and ethics,
declared México’s independence from Spain in 1810. He was
executed in 1811.

Stephanie Gonzales — was elected secretary of state in 1990,
after serving as deputy secretary from 1987. She was appointed to the
President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 1995.

Dolores Fernández Huerta — in 1965 she co-founded the United
Farm Workers with César Chávez, and was the union’s principal labor
negotiator. A farmer’s daughter from Dawson, she is legendary in labor

Cleofas Martínez Jaramillo (1878-1956) — writer, folklorist and
businesswoman wrote Romance of a Little Village Girl and Shadows
of the Past.

Joe Kapp — is a New Mexican who played quarterback for the
Minnesota Vikings from 1967 to 1969. After pro football, he went to
Hollywood where he acted in The Longest Yard among other films.

Octaviano A. Larrazolo (1859-1930) — was the first Hispanic to
serve in the United States Senate, appointed in 1928. Prior to that, he
was state governor, the second Latino since New Mexico became a
state. In 1910, he was a crucial influence in writing the New Mexico

Pablo Larrazolo — New Mexico District Judge and United States
Attorney. He heard some of the Alianza cases while serving. He wrote
Octaviano A. Larrazolo: A Moment in New Mexico History.

Nancy López — this Roswell golfer, Ladies Professional Golf Assn.
hall of famer, was the first Latina ever to win an LPGA tournament.
This was in 1978.

Manuel Luján Jr. — served as Republican congressman
representing the 1st District for 20 consecutive years. He then became
the first Hispanic appointed as U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1989.

Fred Luna — has represented Valencia County in the House since
1971, and is the continuously longest serving state Representative.

Fray Marcos de Niza — in 1539, this Spanish explorer led an
expedition in Nuevo Mexico to find Cibola.

Petra Jiménez Maes — this native New Mexican was elected to
the state Supreme Court in 1998. The first female Hispanic Chief
Justice, also a mother of two, practiced law privately in Albuquerque
until 1976 when she went to work for Northern New Mexico Legal
Services. After being appointed to the First Judicial District Court in
1981 by Governor Bruce King, she continued her career path for 17
years through the criminal, family, then civil divisions.

Lt. General Leo Márquez — retired in 1987 as one of the
highest-ranking Hispanos in the United States Air Force. He lead the
Albuquerque Task Force to save Kirtland Air Force Base. His military
decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal,
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, and Bronze Star Medal.

Donaldo A. “Tiny” Martínez — Las Vegas attorney and former
District Judge, veteran of World War II.

Felix Martínez — this businessman, politician, entrepreneur,
founder of the newspaper La Voz del Pueblo in Las Vegas was one of
the leaders of the “Movimiento de la Gente,” and the legislators
responsible establishing New Mexico Normal University (Highlands)
and Western New Mexico University.

Roberto Mondragón — was elected to the House of
Representatives in 1966 and served as Lieutenant Governor from
1971 to 1975 and again from 1979 to 1983. He was the first Latino
vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1972.

Admiral Ben Montoya — retired as one of the highest ranking
Hispanos in the U.S. Navy is former president of the Public Service
Company of New Mexico.

Richard Moore — this human rights activist, a resident of New
Mexico since 1965 of Puerto Rican descent, served as president of the
Black Berets in Albuquerque then founded the Bobby García Memorial
Clinic in the barrio of San José. He later cofounded the Southwest
Organizing Project. A founding member in 1990 of the Southwest
Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Moore is presently
executive director. He completed a three-year term as chair of the
National Environmental Justice Fund. In 1995, he was honored by the
Albuquerque Human Rights Office with the Miguel Trujillo Unsung
Hero Award.

Estevan el Negro — a Black Moor slave who accompanied Núñez
and de Niza on their expedition in 1536.

Graciela Olivárez (1928-1987) — was the first woman to graduate
from Norte Dame Law School. She served in President Carter’s
administration as Director of the Community Services Administration,
the highest ranking Hispana in that administration.

Katherine Dávalos Ortega — this banker became United States
Treasurer, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 through

María Adelina Emelio “Nina” Otero-Warren (1881-1965) —
president of the New Mexico Suffragettes Chapter, she wrote Old
Spain in Our Southwest. She was superintendent of the Santa Fe
County Schools from 1917 to 1929, at age 37, the youngest
superintendent in the state. She wrote and published extensively.

Juan José Peña — professor of Spanish and coordinator of ethnic
and Chicano Studies at Highlands University from 1972 to 1978. Met
with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Arafat to negotiate
the release of two Hispanos and one Native American held hostage in
Teheran in 1981. Founding member of the Vietnam Veterans of New

Manuel de la Peña y Peña (1794-1854) — born in Mexico City,
he was president of the Supreme Court of Mexico in 1848. He
became president of México after the resignation of Antonio López de
Santa Ana and of his vice-president, and was the principal Méxicano
author of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Eufemia Sosa de Peñalosa — this early pioneer woman assisted
Juan de Oñate in quelling a mutiny among his soldiers according to
Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá. She led the women of the colony to
volunteer to fight when many pueblos were massing for attack. With
women on the rooftops, it gave the appearance of more Spanish
defenders, so the Indians delayed their attack.

Bill Richardson — was elected to New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional
District eight times and held one of the highest ranking posts in the
House Democratic Leadership, serving as Chief Deputy Whip. He
chaired the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He was named the United
States Ambassador to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton on
December 13, 1996. He was the first Hispanic to serve in a foreign
policy cabinet level position. He was Secretary of the United States
Department of Energy from 1998 to 2000. Nominated four times for
the Nobel Peace Prize, Richardson became governor of New Mexico in

Louis Richard Rocco (1938-2001) — this Albuquerque native, a
distinguished Medal of Honor Vietnam war hero, died of lung cancer,
presumably from exposure to Agent Orange.

Danny Romero Jr. — westside Albuquerque resident and three-
time world boxing champion has lived and trained with his father in
Albuquerque his entire life. He brought international attention to
Albuquerque by becoming the first American flyweight world champion
in 63 years. Known for his devastating knockouts, Romero was once
voted the hardest pound-for-pound puncher in the world. Having
begun his boxing career in the Albuquerque Police Athletic League at
age 5, he compiled a stellar amateur career, culminating in his earning
a position as an alternate on the 1992 USA Olympic team. He is
currently the IBA world junior featherweight champion.

Richard M. Romero — this District 12 Democrat has represented
Bernalillo County in the Senate since 1993. He has been president pro
tempore since 2001.

Alejandro R. Ruíz — of Loving, New Mexico, won the
Congressional Medal of Honor for heroic conduct in the face of
overwhelming odds in Okinawa.

Louis E. Saavedra — mayor of Albuquerque from 1989 to 1993,
he was active in Latin American politics, having worked in 11 Latin
American countries and seven countries in the West Indies. In 1977,
he received the New Mexico Public Service Award.

Doña Carolina Sánchez — this brave woman was a leader in
miners’ strikes in the Madrid area. In 1930, she became president of
the Woodmen of the World.

Raymond G. Sánchez — the once called Alameda community
center was named in 2002 for Raymond G. Sánchez, former speaker
of the house for 16 years who represented the North Valley. He was
elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 1970 and
served from 1971 to 2000. He served as speaker longer than any of
his predecessors in 1983 and 1984 and from 1987 to 2000.

Brigadier General Carmelita Vigil Schimmenti — joined the
Air Force Nurse Corps in 1958 and retired 30 years later after
achieving the rank of brigadier general, the first Hispana to reach such
high ranks in the Air Force. She was born in Albuquerque, and
graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1954.

Dan Sosa Jr. — former Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Johnny Tapia — this five-time world champion boxer who lives in
the East Mountains was born and raised in New Mexico, his “pride and
joy,” by his grandmother in Albuquerque’s Wells Park neighborhood.
Tapia began boxing at age 9. In addition to pro titles in several weight
classes, he claims two Golden Gloves awards.

Luis Tapia — in his early 20s, Tapia began making santos when he
became aware of the civil rights movement and related Hispanic issues.

Louis Telles — one of the founding members of the New Mexico
and American GI Forum, he has served as Chairman or Commander
of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, and National American GI Forum
after serving in the United States Army during World War II.

Reies López Tijerina — an accomplished author, this land grant
leader founded the land grant advocacy organization, La Alianza
Federal de Mercedes, and did extensive research in Spain on the land
grants of New Mexico. He spoke out extensively on the theft of the
land grants, how to recover them, and led may demonstrations to
attain that end. In 1967, he led a raid of the Río Arriba County
Courthouse which set the stage for heirs to reclaim lands that were
supposed to be protected. In addition, he was the Chicano leader at
the Poor Peoples March on Washington.

Sabine Reyes Ulibarrí (1919-2003) — this educator, poet, and
author touched the lives of many people in New Mexico and the
Hispanic world. He taught at the University of New Mexico from 1947
until 1998. In his honor, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese
named their heritage language program for him.

María Varela — is a rural planner and community organizer who,
since 1963, worked with African American, Mexican-American, and
Native American rural communities committed to creating or recreating
sustainable communities. Varela came to New Mexico in 1967 to work
with the land grant movement in Tierra Amarilla, establishing an
agricultural cooperative and La Clínica del Pueblo, a community owned
health care clinic. An adjunct faculty member of University of New
Mexico’s Department of Community and Regional Planning
Department, Varela has coauthored Rural Environmental Planning
for Sustainable Communities published in 1992 and contributed to
Across the Great Divide: Explorations in Collaborative
Conservation (2001). Currently owns The Rural Resources Group
which works primarily with Western communities and tribal nations
desiring to preserve cultures, environments and family agriculture.
Horacio de Vargas — served as the first president pro tempore of
the New Mexico Senate, the first Hispano to have held that position
since 1927.

Enriqueta Vásquez — this writer and political activist for Hispanic
issues is coeditor with Elizabeth “Betita” Sutherland Martínez of the
newspaper El Grito del Norte, which supported the cause of the land
grant movement under Tijerina. She is an educator in Taos.

Rebecca Vigil-Jirón — in 2003, it was noted that, as New Mexico’s
Secretary of State, Vigil-Jirón was the highest ranking female Hispanic
in the country’s politics. She is serving her second two-year term.

Martha Vásquez — Mexican-born U.S. District Court Judge for the
District of New Mexico was appointed in 1993 by President Clinton.
Now chief judge, she was the first female ever appointed to serve as
U.S. court judge.

Vicente Treviño Ximenes — a member of President Johnson’s
Interagency Committee on Mexican American Affairs on the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ximenes was first chair
of the Albuquerque Human Rights Board.

Latest from Twitter