By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics

Esteban Torres

Reared by his mother when his father was deported to Mexico during the Depression, Esteban Torres graduated from Garfield Highschool in Los Angeles in 1949. After serving in the Korean War, he began his ascent as a community leader in Los Angeles. In 1976, President Carter named him Ambassador to UNESCO and later Special Assistant to the President for Hispanic Affairs. In 1982, he was elected to California’s 34th Congressional District. Congressman Torres is the highest-ranking Hispanic on the House Committee of Appropriations.

He has spearheaded numerous laws in areas of the environment, community and banking and is considered the “chief architect” in persuading many opponents to vote in favor of NAFTA.