Esteban Torres, congressman who pushed Latino rights, dies

Jan 31, 2022, 3:32 PM | Updated: 3:52 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Esteban Torres, who emerged from the Chicano civil rights movement in Southern California and went on to serve eight terms in Congress pushing for social and economic change to help empower Latinos, has died. He was 91.

Torres died Jan. 25 of natural causes, according to a family statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

A labor organizer and anti-poverty activist in East Los Angeles, Torres became a leader of the United Auto Workers union and then served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration before running for office.

“Torres was a pathbreaking public servant and a lifelong fighter for the common good,” California U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Torres’ pride in his working-class, immigrant roots and his belief in the American dream drove his dedication to labor activism and community organizing.”

As a child, Torres lived in a camp in Arizona where his father worked in the copper mines, the Times said.

Eventually, the elder Torres was deported along with more than a million other people of Mexican descent through the “Mexican Repatriation program,” even though many were U.S. citizens. Torres never saw his father again.

After graduating from Los Angeles’ Garfield High School, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Corps of Engineers during the Korean War.

After becoming a union leader, Torres was appointed by President Carter as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris. He also served as a White House special assistant for Hispanic Affairs until the end of Carter’s term.

The following year, Torres was elected to Congress, where he served eight terms representing the 34th Congressional District, which included much of East Los Angeles, where he was raised.

In Washington, during his first term, Torres spearheaded the first comprehensive examination of West Covina’s BKK Landfill, one of the nation’s most hazardous. He also pushed for an overhaul of the country’s consumer credit reporting policies and helped draft legislation to ensure that low-income victims of natural disasters received full federal assistance.

Torres also helped secure millions of dollars for public transit projects in Los Angeles County and beyond, according to the Times. From 1989 until 1991, he was chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“I have reached the pinnacle of success in my own eyes,” Torres told the Times when he retired in 1999. “It’s time to let the younger generation succeed.”

After retiring from Congress, Torres served on the California Transportation Commission and was a visiting professor at Whittier College and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Along with former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, he was a founder of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a museum in downtown Los Angeles that explores the cultural influence of Latinos in the city.

Torres also was an accomplished artist, his work displayed at galleries throughout Los Angeles.

In 2010, a newly built high school in East Los Angeles was named for him, an honor more often bestowed after someone has died. Torres enjoyed stopping by the campus and speaking about his rise from East LA to Congress, the Times said.

Torres is survived by his wife, Arcy Sanchez, five children, 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Residents go about their life with some shops re-opening for business as restrictions are eased in ...
Associated Press

China reports 2 new COVID deaths as some restrictions eased

HONG KONG (AP) — China on Sunday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations. The National Health Commission said one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. No information was given about the ages of the victims or […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

State news: Iran executed 4 people it says spied for Israel

CAIRO (AP) — Iranian authorities executed four people Sunday accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, the state-run IRNA news agency said. Three others received lengthy prison sentences. IRNA said the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard announced the arrests of a network of people linked to the Israeli agency. It said the members had previous […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 4, the “Million Dollar Quartet”

Today in History Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2022. There are 27 days left in the year. Today’s Highlights in History: On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for the first and only time for a jam session at Sun Records in Memphis. […]
1 day ago
A Palestinian flag and a poster showing Ammar Adili, 22, who was shot and killed by an Israeli bord...
Associated Press

Palestinians say killing caught on video was unjustified

HAWARA, West Bank (AP) — A makeshift sidewalk memorial with a Palestinian flag and a mourning notice paid tribute Saturday to a 22-year-old Palestinian whose death at the hands of an Israeli border police officer — four pistol shots from close range — was captured on widely shared amateur video. A day after the shooting […]
1 day ago
FILE - A flu vaccine is readied at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans...
Associated Press

Flu season worsens as 44 states report high activity

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. flu season keeps getting worse. Health officials said Friday that 7.5% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. That’s as high as the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and higher than any season since. The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until […]
1 day ago
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin introduces the B-21 Raider stealth at Northrop Grumman Friday, De...
Associated Press

Keep COVID military vaccine mandate, defense chief says

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops, as Republican governors and lawmakers press to rescind it. This past week more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Esteban Torres, congressman who pushed Latino rights, dies