DES MOINES – After two recent and tragic deaths, Latinos come together and honor Celia Barquín Arozamena and Mollie Tibbetts.
“We continued to do it because we honor everybody by continuing our life and continuing the positive things that she would’ve even stood for,” said the Executive Director of the Iowa Latino Heritage Festival.
The Iowa Latino Heritage Festival is all about ‘cultura’ or culture. People enjoy Latin culture, but this year it’s especially important because the Latino community is coming together in the face of tragedy.
“For me to be a Latina it means to bring the joy of this culture to others who may not be aware of it,” said Elkhart resident Stephanie Mohr.
Not everyone who attends is Latino, but they still find a way to learn about the community.
“People don’t realize that we are so diverse with over 20 Latin American countries so it’s kind of a nice back drop to be able to learn about all that,” said Gonzalez.
The community has been painted in a negative light after recent events in the news, but their message now is that one person’s actions can’t define them.
“Sometimes negative stuff happens, and the moment that that happens, we have to make sure that we think and say, ‘That person did wrong, but we cannot say the whole community is,'” said West Des Moines resident El Ave Phenix.
Through it all, Latinos will keep moving forward.
“We are strong! I’ve never seen prouder people of not only where they come from, but proud of where they’re at and what they give back to this community and to this country. We are here to build the community in a positive way,” said Mohr.
The festival only comes one time a year and it wrapped up this weekend, but Latino organizations here in the metro are hoping people will come out to their events in the future.