Los rancheros

Latin Americans are the largest minority group in the USA. Meet two Latin American families who went against the tide and settled in the Bible Belt.

Los rancheros

Latin Americans are the largest minority group in the USA. Meet two Latin American families who went against the tide and settled in the Bible Belt.

  • Af Betina Garcia
  • 25. okt. 2015
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Most Latin Americans in the United States have settled in Texas and California. Instead, the Espinoza and Barrillas families moved to the Bible Belt where they live as Latin American cowboys: 'Los Rancheros'.

17-year-old Marcos is a second-generation immigrant whose parents came to the United States illegally. He goes to high school, but spends most of his time training horses, throwing the lasso and drinking tequila at the weekend instead of playing American football.

On Sunday Marcos chills out in the hammock while his parents and siblings go to the local church, La Hermosa. The State of Kentucky is known to be part of the conservative and religious US Bible Belt.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau nearly 57 million Latin Americans make up the USA's largest minority group.

Approximately every fourth newborn child is Latin American, making the group one of the fastest growing in the country.

In 2060 Latin Americans are set to represent 28 percent of the total population of the United States.

Marcos' grandfather Manuel Barrillas bought the ranch with Marcos' father, Francisco Espinoza and Marcos' uncles Juan Manuel (junior) as it is much cheaper to own a ranch in Kentucky than in California.

Both Marcos' father and his grandfather, Manuel Barrillas, are delighted to have been able to come to the United States as the situation in their home country is not safe.

Extortion and kidnappings are a normal part of everyday life in Guatemala and Mexico, where they came from.

Weekends in the cold winter months are spent marking bonfires. Many of the family's friends and acquaintances come over for a beer. They listen to Mexican music and sing.

The Latin American population in the USA is so great that it plays an important role in the election campaign.

Both candidates are fighting to secure the "Latin American vote".

Latin Americans often emphasize the importance of the politicians' attitude to immigration when inserting their cross.

Marcos' younger sister, Nayda Espinoza, is 12 years old. She shares a bedroom with her parents and dreams of becoming an interior designer or fashion designer. At the moment she is working with the chickens and farming and earns money selling eggs and vegetables to friends of the family.

One Saturday in December, Marcos and six other family members are out practising to catch cattle. It's important to be able to catch the cattle when they're going to be medicated or slaughtered.

19-year-old Francisco "Paco" Espinoza is Marcos' older brother. He also likes horses and the cowboy lifestyle, but at age 16 he became crazy about cars. He is now studying to be a mechanic and is engaged to an American.

After a day of hard work, uncle Chino injured his hand on a rope. Chino Barrillas is one of the many Latinos who work in the construction industry.

Latinos account for 30 percent of the total workforce in the construction industry in the United States.

Latin American workers play a major role in the American workforce, especially in industries with a high proportion of production or factory workers.

According to elcosh.org, Latinos also represent over 30 percent in the agricultural industry.

A cow is slaughtered so that the family can use the meat to celebrate cousin Elisa's birthday party where over 200 guests are attending.

The family celebrates cousin Elisa Yamilet's 15th birthday. In Mexican culture this is the day that marks the transition from girl to woman. Elisa is driven to the church in a horse drawn carriage escorted by the family from the ranch.

The family holds a surprise party for grandmother Elisa Barrillas where everyone gathers in the kitchen and garage. Marcos has a chat with Uncle Manuel and Pedro Nuñez, a Mexican friend of the family.

It is Marcos' grandfather, who taught him everything about the ranchero lifestyle.

For grandmother's surprise birthday party she gets kisses and hugs from her grandchildren. Manuelito is the youngest grandchild, who at five, only speaks a few words of English. His grandparents have never learnt English, and they take care of him every day while his parents go to work.

"The ranch and high school are like two different worlds. Out here on the ranch is like being in a dream," says Marcos.


Photo, text and video: Betina Garcia

Webdok editor: Hans Christian Kromann