In at least three major cities - New York, Chicago and Los Angeles - Hispanic grievances could lead to disturbances similar to the rioting that occurred in Washington last week, according to the head of the nation's Hispanic advocacy organization.
Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, said he would estimate that the prospects were "80 percent that within two to three years we're going to have an earthquake in one of the four," adding that like any earthquake, it was impossible to say precisely where or when it would occur.Other Hispanic leaders and some urban analysts were less willing to express as much certainty about the future. But when they were asked to compare the problems of Washington's Hispanic population with those faced by Hispanics in the other cities, they agreed that the problems were essentially the same: unemployment; an absence of local political clout; police "hassling"; the clash of cultures; and - most often heard - the lack of channels for Hispanics to bring their grievances to the attention of the local government and get action on them.
"There has to be a pressure valve," said Harry Pachon, executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
"People get frustrated when they have no avenues for addressing their complaints," said Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Texas, chairman of the Hispanic Coalition in Congress.
Yzaguirre's assessment targeted New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as the three cities with the largest Hispanic populations.
Numbers and proportions, however, were not the reasons for Yzaguirre's aim.
There is an increased feeling of alienation among Hispanics in Los Angeles, he said, and no give in their demand for jobs. Friction with the police, he said, is increasing.
In New York, he said, Hispanics feel disenfranchised, adding that the election of the city's first black mayor, David Dinkins, has failed to bring any real presence of Hispanics to the city government.
Hispanics also haven't made it into Chicago's local government, Yzaguirre said. A budding alliance between blacks and Hispanics, established when the late Harold Washington was the city's first black mayor, has failed to come to life again as the city has returned to a white administration under the current mayor, Richard Daley, he said.