April 3, 2013, marks the 500th anniversary of the discovery of present-day Florida by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. To mark the occasion, St. Augustine, Florida is hosting a number of events.
Special events include a Picasso exhibition. The artist was a major figure during the New Deal period because of his high-profile support for the Spanish Republic, a cause adopted by many Hispanics and progressives in the U.S.
Reflecting on the long term impact of Juan Ponce de León and other Spanish explorers in what is now the U.S., it is telling to note that this 500th anniversary celebration (which will included a block of special U.S. postage stamps,) is occurring a few months after the November 2012 election, in which Latinos constituted more than 10 percent of the national electorate for the first time.
Most Latinos in the U.S are descendants of these early explorers or subsequent waves of Spanish immigrants in the New World. While a number of Spaniards moved directly to the U.S., most traveled to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other nations of Latin America, where they became integrated into existing communities. It is the descendants of these Spanish and Indian peoples (and in fewer cases, African peoples) that constitute the majority of Latinos in the U.S.