HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) today recognized the 168th anniversary of the Dominican Republic's independence.
"We are pleased to acknowledge and celebrate Dominican Independence Day because the ring of freedom and individual liberty is a hallmark of what being American means," said Maria Montero, GACLA executive director.
There are 62,348 people of Dominican ancestry living in Pennsylvania today, constituting the third-largest Latino subgroup in Pennsylvania. Census data show the overall Latino population in Pennsylvania grew by 83 percent from 2000 to 2010. At approximately 720,000 residents, Latinos now account for roughly 6 percent of the state's total population.
Montero noted that many Dominican immigrants came to the United States, like immigrants from Europe, for an opportunity to work and have a better life for their families. One example is Varsovia Fernandez, a native of the Dominican, who has lived in the United States since her youth and is a U.S. citizen. Fernandez is the CEO and president of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Dominicans thrive wherever they go. Their hard work ethic enables them to succeed as they learn systems, culture and language," Fernandez said. "In Pennsylvania, we have a growing number of Dominican businesses and they account for about 35 percent of the Latino-owned businesses. This represents an opportunity for the state to revitalize local economies and create and retain jobs."
As part of her goals for GACLA, Montero hopes to encourage more Latinos to take their best ideas to create prosperous businesses which enable them to be self-sufficient and aid in Pennsylvania's economic recovery.
Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492, and it became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital, was home to the first cathedral in the Americas and the first institution of higher education in the western hemisphere.
Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramon Matias Mella and Fransisco del Rosario Sanchez are considered the three founders of the Dominican Republic and were key leaders helping guide the island's residents to independence on Feb. 27, 1844.
Media contact: Maria Montero, GACLA executive director; 717-787-5825
SOURCE Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs