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Hispanic population in La. steadily increases

Posted at 9:45 PM, Sep 15, 2021

Where Hispanics go, businesses to make them feel at home follow.

Data shows there’s been a steady increase in Hispanics statewide and in our region.

Like a hidden gem on Ambassador Caffery, La Esmeralda supermarket, which means emerald, sells products from Central and South America.

“We have products from Honduras, products from Mexico, and a little bit of Colombian products. We have a little bit of everything,” said Secia Zelaya, who manages the shop.

She's originally from Honduras and says in the 8 years she’s lived in Lafayette she’s seen a jump in Hispanics living in the area.

To get a grasp on that increase, KATC looked into the census data.

Statewide, there has been a steady increase over the past two decades.

In 2000, there were 107,738 Hispanics living in Louisiana, or 2.4 percent of the population.

By 2010, 192,560 Hispanics lived in the state, making up 4.2 percent of the total.

In the most recent data, that number is 246,368 and makes up 5.3 percent of the state.

Closer to home here in Acadiana, the average percentage of Hispanics in our region is 4.4 percent.

Lafayette Parish has the most with 11,132 Hispanics, and Evangeline parish has the least with 1,254.

Due to that increase in Latinos in the region – more businesses have turned into little pieces of home.

“Within all of us, we carry a little bit of everything, so Hispanics can feel at home, in their home countries,” said Zelaya. “They see they have products from where they are from so, that’s important, that they can find what they’re looking for.”

And as Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off – Zelaya reflects on why this month is important.

“We like to recognize that we are Hispanic, recognize our nationality so that people value us,” she said. “Since we are not at home, I think it’s important so that people in this country value and respect us, above all.”

Zelaya says between all the shops in the area, they can cater to the more than 20 countries that make up Hispanic culture.

Hispanic culture is defined as the beliefs and customs of people who speak Spanish or who are descendants of those from Spanish-speaking countries, in Latin America and other regions.

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