Latinos are America’s Original Settlers not Foreigners, Emphasizes Media Consultant/Influencer Luis Vega, who Inspires & Helps Clients with an Inclusionary Global Perspective
“Latinos have populated this hemisphere for thousands, if not millions, of years we are not foreigners to the land but its original settlers. Understanding our psychology frames how Latinos perceive everything, from politics, economics and culture. We are partners. Likewise, Asians, Africans and Arabs feel and understand their world the same way. These are not migrant cultures, they are the original settlers — many now here in America. When you treat people with respect acknowledging their history, you succeed. If you approach them with condescension and feelings of superiority, you fail.” — Luis Vega, culture influencer/media consultant
Luis Vega’s philosophy to “unite and conquer” — not the divisive alternative — has been inspired by a richly varied life and eclectic job experiences, growing up in Puerto Rico, then later living and working in many countries worldwide. Conversant in several languages and naturally curious by nature, he’s immersed himself in foreign cultures from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
Like what he did when as a young Puerto Rican came to America and immersed himself in the ambiance of his new country, dipping himself in the waters making California his home. “I find every culture I’ve encountered around the world here without boarding a plane,” Vega astutely observes.
At first, he handled Broadcast Standards when he worked at KHJ-TV, then later focused on entertainment in the 1980s for Mexico’s Televisa. Mexico then was the only Latin American country with its own satellite thus Vega’s TV segments reached the whole hemisphere once a week. And, as an American Latino, Vega reflected a cultural breakthrough moment when Latinos saw someone like themselves on TV, working and living in the U.S. without fear.
In the 1990s, he segued into socio-politics and cultural issues. He also opened his own LA Vega language school in 1993 — because he recognized that even journalists in a heavily Latino-influenced metropolis like Los Angeles “didn’t understand how to deal with and better portray the realities of the Latin market in U.S. and beyond.”
One of his former L.A. Times’ students, Christina Nihira, wanted to further her command of Spanish:
Luis understood our work as Westside section reporters. He was also a journalist and had worked extensively in the huge LA media market. What differentiated him was his unique views of local and international news. He had perspectives beyond typical American thinking. He was more open, flexible and his inquisitiveness was infectious. It prompted us to consider the global world long before the Internet united the planet.
Vega intuitively felt helping them connect and understand the intrinsic culture of the City of Angels would enhance their business opportunities, and Nihira says it did.
Luis knows different parts of the world and this innate search for knowledge he uses to analyze, interconnect, and explain the nature of things and above all get to know people well.
Vega’s immersion into California culture brought him into politics in the 2000s. He was part of the immigration wave that was initially invisible in the 1980s but as laws were reformed Latinos became legal, and started becoming visible, and a growing socio-political factor.
Vega ran for Congress in 2002, after winning the Republican primary with 65% of the vote in the 31st District, a heavily ethnic area with no Puerto Rican community. Even though he didn’t ultimately win, he recalls, “I was not an ‘ethnic’ candidate, but an ‘ideas’ candidate. And, it was the most rewarding experience.”
That led to Vega becoming involved in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election, which created a “political earthquake” in the nation. It resulted in Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming Governor. Vega was hired as a spokesperson by the GOP to articulate the conservative position to Latinos in California.
He also developed advertising and editorial content for the Latino market for President Bush’s re-election in 2004 establishing record Latino support with almost 50%. Vega quips, “I told them, Reagan said Latinos are Republicans but just don’t know it!”
Overall, a conservative speaking to Latinos doesn’t seem a natural fit, but it vindicated Vega’s philosophy about interconnecting:
The mystery is not that cultures are different but that we are the same, with variations depending on geography and personal experiences, and these are what makes individuals unique. So, when it comes to interacting with any culture that is foreign to you whether Latino, Arabic, Asian or African, there are things that apply to everyone: 1) Listen, to both client and target market to tailor a strategy to specific needs; 2) Show respect, one culture is not superior to another; 3) Observe, and avoid projecting one’s own values, aspirations or perspective onto them; 4) Assume intelligence, and based on personal assessment, I engage people at a higher level; 5) Be adaptable, and once strategy, content or a project is created, I test and adjust if necessary.
Vega expanded his strategy in 2010 when he became the first Latino English language columnist for the People’s Daily Online, the official website for China’s largest newspaper, People’s Daily. His Beijing-based editor, Paul Xinyi Zhang, was impressed with how Vega’s current affairs columns often sparked lively discussion among readers. Zhang offers:
He shared with us his unique understanding on some of the hottest international/regional issues. His writing style was unique and to the point. From readers’ comments, we gathered that Mr. Vega’s articles were well received by our audiences, be it in China, in English speaking countries, or any other part of the world.
Recently, he’s developed film projects, including a documentary with Alvaro Betancourt, grandson of twice president of Venezuela, Romulo Betancourt, known as “The Father of Venezuelan Democracy.” And, he’s now collaborating with Swiss filmmaker Jürg Ebe (Liebling, lass uns scheiden! and, Handyman), exploring the creation of content for emerging markets, outside of Hollywood.
Since Vega came to America, he’s been a pioneer in various areas, and this new path still continues with his goal of “creating relevant content not limited by geography and that has longevity.” In essence, he’s looking to unite and conquer, all over again.