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Hispanic Heritage
Posted September 17, 2019 | 1:40 PM

Hillsborough Hispanics

County celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15

Prominent local Hispanic leaders:
Vicente Ybor: In the mid-1800s, established a cigar factory in the company town that became known as Ybor City.
Bob Martinez: Florida's first Hispanic governor and a former Tampa mayor, he now serves on various boards and is a political commentator.
Maria Chapa Lopez: U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Middle District of Florida and longtime federal prosecutor specializing in drug cases.
Richard Gonzmart: Restaurateur and fourth-generation Hillsborough County resident. His family's Columbia Restaurant is the centerpiece of its dining empire.

Number of cigar factories, in heyday and now:
Of the 200 or so factories that operated during Hillsborough County's cigar-making heyday, from the late 1800s-through mid-1900s, about 25 survive.

Hispanic Hero:
U.S. Marine Baldomero Lopez, 25, earned the Medal of Honor in Korea for sacrificing his life to protect his men. The first Lieutenant posthumously was honored for smothering a live hand grenade with his body during the Inchon landing in September 1950.

Economic influence:
Tampa, the County's largest city, ranks third in Hispanic Business Friendliness in a nationwide survey of more than 180 cities, according to the WalletHub website.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famers:
Two Hispanic Major Leaguers from Hillsborough County are in baseball's most exclusive club: Al Lopez, a manager and catcher; and Tony La Russa, a longtime manager. Lou Piniella, a Hispanic player and baseball manager from Hillsborough County, fell one vote shy of induction in December.

Birthplace of the Cuban sandwich:
Once a staple of cigar factory workers, the local version of this iconic favorite is ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on pressed Cuban bread.

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