The borough long lauded for its diversity last Friday gained a new symbol representing that foundation of inclusion as the inaugural Latin American flag was hoisted atop the flagpole outside Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
“It’s a beautiful emblem that celebrates our diversity and bonds with our brothers and sisters of Central America, South America and the Dominican Republic,” Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik remarked in front of an audience that included foreign dignitaries and the Francis Lewis High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, which presented the colors for the noon ceremony on Queens Boulevard.
The flag was born out of a need for a symbol that represents Latin America and the growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States, according to its designer, the Peruvian-American artist Larry D’Arrigo.
By featuring the emblems of many Latin American countries and one commonwealth — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela — the flag allows the natives of the lands “to feel identified with their own symbols and at the same time allowing all of us to know each other better, strengthening our ties of unity and solidarity,” D’Arrigo said.
“For us, this banner represents a symbol of unity among the Latin-American community,” echoed Pablo Romano, the borough president’s advisor for Hispanic affairs, who is of Argentinian descent. “It’s a great honor, and we hope that the Hispanic-American community will feel welcomed with open arms and that they feel at home.”
The emblems of the 20 Latin American countries and commonwealth are located in the upper left corner of the flag and encased in individual gold suns. D’Arrigo said the suns represent “the light that shines at dawn; the renewed and strong daily force.”
The flag also features horizontal bars of blue, white and red, colors D’Arrigo noted were chosen because they reflected “the spirit of the Latin people” and they have a presence on each emblem of the countries and commonwealth.
Red, the artist said, signifies “the passion and strength with which we fight to achieve our dreams,” the blood shed by Latinos in their fights for freedom and the blood ties that bind together the different cultures.
Blue “represents our loyalty, justice, honesty, intelligence, truth and our future,” and white “is the purity, the innocence and the peace an integrity that are characteristic of the Latin people,” D’Arrigo related.
Later, Grodenchik presented to D’Arrigo a proclamation from Borough President Helen Marshall officially declaring Nov. 14 to Nov. 21, 2010, Latin American Flag Week in Queens.