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Being Latino and Hispanic in Dubuque

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

When we refer to a person as Hispanic or as a Latino, Latina, or Latinx, those terms usually conjure certain expectations and assumptions. But the truth is that there is an immense diversity among these groups. In Dubuque alone, there is an incredible richness in the number of countries, cultures, and traditions that fit under the identity of Hispanic and Latino. We asked people from around Dubuque to write in about their traditions and cultures in order to highlight the diversity we can find in our community.

El Salvador

Coatepeque Lake

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Salvadorians speak Spanish just like many of the other Central American countries, but never forget that every country has different words for certain things. For example, you might have heard people say the words “niño” or “niña” to mean boy or girl, but in El Salvador we say “bicho” or “bicha.” There are so many words that Salvadorians say differently than other countries that sometimes when they speak to other people they have to ask what the words mean in the middle of a conversation.

El Salvador is very popular in the surfing community because of its waves and tropical weather. The second thing the country is very popular for is the amount of volcanoes it has. El Salvador, known as ”the Land of Volcanoes,” has more than twenty volcanoes, two of which are currently active.

Let’s get into something even more exciting, the food. El Salvador is known for their pupusas revueltas (mixed), pupusas de frijol con queso (bean w/cheese), and pupusas de chicharrón con queso (pork and cheese). Pupusas are made of a corn dough stuffed with different types of food and flattened down to fry, topped with a tomato salsa and curtido, which to other folks looks like coleslaw, but much more upgraded. The second main dish Salvadorians are known for is our Panes con Pollo. This is a French bread stuffed with baked chicken or turkey and salsa, sliced tomato, cucumber, radish, and watercress. Some people like to add curtido as well to give it an additional flavor. Aside from their main dishes, there are empanadas de platano – a mashed plantain stuffed with a vanilla sugar to give it a milky texture on the inside that’s then rolled over sugar – so many tropical fruits you may have never seen, and best of all, our beans! Seems exciting and delicious doesn’t it? Well it is!

Hopefully one day you will get a bit of what El Salvador has to offer and experience the colorful culture and cumbia music. Don’t believe everything you see on the news because everyone knows the news only shows you the negative of every country. El Salvador is rich in culture and in the love you see in the streets, with all the vendors and neighbors having a good time together. You’ll hear music playing down every street, even at the churches (the majority of the population is Catholic). With almost 7 million people in the country, it is destined that you will fall in love with the culture, the music, the food, and the people.


A Street in Cartagena

Colombia is a diverse country and is very rich in natural resources. Located on the north side of South America, it has two coasts: the Caribbean on the north, and the Pacific on the west. Colombians are a mix of Native American, Spanish, and African. We call this blend mestizo, and this is also reflected in our culture.

Colombia is very geographically diverse as well. You can find beautiful tropical beaches, dry and hot deserts, busy and loud cities, and impenetrable forests.

Arepas with hogao

When we talk about Colombians, we cannot refer to a specific group. There are many cultural groups in different regions of the country. For instance, people from Bogota are also known as cachacos or rolos, people from Antioquia are known as paisas, people from the Caribbean coast are known as costeños, and people from Tolima and Huila are known as opitas.

Even though Spanish is the official language, people from different cities in Colombia have different accents, and they have their own signature foods, music, and culture. Some of our most famous comfort foods include arepas, which are cornmeal patties usually stuffed with cheese or meat, and empanadas, which are deep-fried cornmeal patties stuffed with meat and potatoes or rice.

The average Colombian person is happy, a hard worker, and always puts their family first. Colombians love to dance, going on road trips to the countryside, and hanging out with their families and friends. We love black coffee of course. We drink it once, twice, or even three or more times a day.


Mexican culture varies depending on the region of the country, with the population composed of Mestizo, Amerindian, and White ethnic groups. Although Spanish is widely spoken in Mexico, it is not the official language. The Constitution of Mexico defines Mexico as multilingual and recognizes the many indigenous languages spoken throughout the country.

The Northern region of Mexico has been heavily influenced by a history of colonialism and European immigration. The region has a wide variety of food, with Cabrito being one of the most famous dishes that is associated with this region. On its coast you can find an abundant variety of seafood in its cuisine as well.

The Central region once was the home of the Aztecs with its capital being Tenochtitlan. Now it is the location of Mexico’s capital Mexico City. Some of the cuisine best recognized from this region include carnitas, arroz con leche, barbacoa, and chalupas.

The Southern region is home to numerous indigenous people with many indigenous languages being spoken there. In this region you will find delicious foods such as cochinita pibil, mole, enfrijoladas, and enchiladas.

Mexicans value their family and believe in the benefit of the family as a whole. Religion is also key to their beliefs and traditions, with about 82% of the population identifying as Catholic and many celebrations and holidays, such as Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, being centered on religious entities. These festivals are celebrated with mariachi, banda, ranchera, latin pop, salsa, bachata, or reggeaton music, and of course, some tequila and coronas on the side. Traditional clothing consists of serapes (a shawl easily identified by its extravagant colors), ponchos, huaraches, huipils, and poblanas.

We will continue to add to this article in the coming weeks! If you would like to write about your culture and heritage, please contact us.


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