Without Ángelo Falcón, Chances of Dialogue Among NY Latinos Fade

Ángelo Falcón’s characteristic pose. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Ángelo Falcón, a political analyst and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy, passed away on May 24. Queens Latino editor and publisher Javier Castaño remembers the community leader in a piece that appeared in the publication.

I met Ángelo Falcón over 25 years ago while I was a reporter for El Diario/La Prensa. In those days, he was one of the few people we could call to ask for a quote on current political events. To be honest, he was the only one with a grasp of the figures on Latino participation in New York City elections, and that is because he would stay up all night reading the data and the results. Other analysts would try to guess what had taken place during the voting.

Ángelo’s forte was data, and his weakness were his jokes. He would often boil down an important conversation to a simplistic comment. That was his defense mechanism to stop his enemies in their tracks, dull politicians and activists who were only thinking about their own and their friends’ interests.

He was one of the few Puerto Ricans in the city with whom you could criticize the Puerto Rican leadership. Our conversations about this topic were extensive, both in person and by phone. On many occasions, he came to Queens and we talked about it.

That is why his death is such a great loss for the Latino community. Ángelo could have started a conversation that we sorely need: a sincere and direct dialogue between Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Ecuadoreans, Colombians and other Latinos. This issue is never addressed, and it is probably the most important one to tackle for the Latino community to advance.

But Ángelo was also gluttonous and never exercised, and that is why diabetes snatched him at 66. He took with him the key that could have opened up that conversation, and I cannot imagine anyone else who is capable of doing so. In our community, a small-minded vision prevails.

Goodbye, friend.

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