- Lifting the voices of Latinos
- Collaborating with leading national organizations
- Adopting a public health model (Ecological Model) and offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and training to certified community health workers (Promotores) around advance care planning and end-of-life options
- Identifying storytellers to share their personal experiences
Nuestra Voz, Nuestras Historias (Our Voices, Our Stories) Project: C&C’s Cross-Country Trip to Capture the Latino Perspective
The goal of this two-year project led by National Director of Community Engagement Brandi Alexander was to film Latinos speaking about various topics:
- The importance of end-of-life planning
- The power of cultural values and faith
- Facing dementia
- Latino reluctance to talk about death and medical aid in dying.
Join us in our movement to empower more Latinos to take charge at the end of life:
- Plan your own end-of-life care (English and Spanish)
- Join our efforts
- Share your story
Our advocates include highly respected Latinos who support increased efforts to empower the Latino community to take charge of their end-of-life experience.
|Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights Activist||Dolores Huerta has been a powerful advocate for ensuring that more Latinos are educated about the importance of advance care planning and the full breadth of end-of-life options including advocating for passing medical aid-in-dying laws across the country. She serves on the Latino Leadership Council and has authored op-eds, lobbied legislators, spoken at events, and traveled coast-to-coast to ensure end-of-life humanity for all. In 2022, we honored her with our first Mission and Vision Award, which will carry her name and be given annually to other advocates who share her commitment to this movement.|
|Mauricio Ochmann, Popular Telenovela Actor||Mauricio Ochmann, a member of our Latino Leadership Council, has lent his voice and star-appeal to educate Latinos about the importance of end-of-life options. He has written op-eds and appeared in videos, public service announcements and our magazine.|
|Jorge Ramos, Top Spanish-American News Anchor||Jorge Ramos, the spokesperson of nearly 12 million Latinos, was a powerful voice for passage of the California End of Life Option Act. He publicly endorsed the bill in an interview with Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s husband, before it was signed into law in October 2015. Jorge reiterated his support for authorizing medical aid in dying by writing an editorial in support of Brittany’s decision to die peacefully, and airing special news segments that exclusively focused on medical aid in dying.|
Latino Leadership Council
The Latino Leadership Council represents diverse groups of professionals, community and faith leaders, and experts in the fields of medicine, estate planning, and more. They:
- Bring visibility to the movement through various media outlets.
- Meet with lawmakers to advance C&C’s legislative efforts.
- Hold webinars and events for underserved communities.
- Secure endorsements from diverse organizations.
- Share their stories.
Together, we will:
- Strategize enhancements to Compassion & Choices’ policies and priorities, specific to the needs of our community.
- Identify materials that will be needed to empower Latinos around end-of-life decision-making.
- Reframe what end-of-life options means and correct misconceptions about hospice and palliative care.
Compassion & Choices' many efforts have gained support from several leading national organizations that represent the Latino community.
|Ventanilla de Salud is a program developed by the Government of Mexico to provide reliable information on health topics, counseling and health-services referrals for Mexican and Hispanic families living in the United States. Joining forces with Ventanilla de Salud has given Compassion & Choices access, through Mexico’s entire consular network in the United States, to literally millions of people in one of our nation’s fastest-growing populations|
|The Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing aims to inspire communities to build volunteer organizations empowered to pursue social justice. Its grassroots work focuses on civic engagement, education equity, health and safety, and LGBTQIA+ equality. They believe that those most directly impacted by inequity have the knowledge to implement community-driven solutions when empowered with the tools, training and resources.|
|Latinos for Healthcare Equity is a national organization working to improve access to quality affordable healthcare for the Latino community. They have partnered with us on efforts to educate the Latinos about advance care planning, endorsed medical aid in dying, and served as a collaborator and thought partner on our work to address inequities in end-of-life care. GLAA.org|
|The Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit organization acting in response to the critical, unmet need for HIV prevention and care for Latinos. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. The Latino Commission on AIDS has proudly served the Latino LGBTQ population and is committed to creating and promoting a safe space. The Commission founded the Hispanic Health Network, dedicated to eradicating health disparities in our the Latino community. Guillermo Chacon, its president and CEO, serves on Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council and provides guidance on the many cultural issues affecting patients and families at the end of life.|
|The Latinx National Task Force is an independent grassroots coalition of national, state and local organizations/members coming together to address gaps in resources, bilingual information, data, policy and funding. Compassion & Choices partners with the task force to strategically articulate, bridge and connect Latino/Hispanic people with end-of-life care resources.|
|Research, Education and Access for Community Health (R.E.A.C.H.) is a nonprofit organization that provides evidenced-based research, information, development and implementation of programs to improve community health services and access to care in the state of Nevada. This collaboration aids in mass dissemination of educational materials about end-of-life care options within the Hispanic/Latino community.|
|The National Hispanic Council on Aging has worked with Compassion & Choices to advance the full range of end-of-life options for nearly a decade. Their support has included translation assistance, op-eds and participation in our leadership council by their president, Dr. Yanira Cruz; an endorsement of medical aid in dying; and collaboration in our work to reduce inequities in end-of-life care.|
|New Mexico Community Health Worker Association/ Nuestra Salud is a nonprofit organization by and for community health workers whose mission is to nurture the Community Health Worker Model to collectively improve access and quality of healthcare for people by advocating for and empowering its members. Compassion & Choices collaborates with the association by providing capacity-building training to Latino Community Health Workers/ Promotoras de Salud about end-of-life and advance healthcare planning.|
|Latina SHARE is a national nonprofit organization that supports, educates and empowers anyone who has been diagnosed with women’s cancers, and provides outreach to the general public about signs and symptoms. Latina SHARE has collaborated with Compassion & Choices on the Nuestra Voz Nuestras Historias (Our Voice Our Stories) initiative to give voice to the Latino population at the end of life.|
|The Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families’ mission is to develop the individual, organizational and community capacities that will enable Latinos and Mexican Americans to realize their full civic, cultural and political integration into American society in the Latino community in New York. Compassion & Choices and Coalicion Mexicana joined forces to provide capacity-building training to Latino community health workers about end-of-life and advanced healthcare planning in New York.|
|Howard Brown Health is one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ organizations. Through our partnership with their elder services program, we are able to better serve and participate in conversations regarding end-of-life care options in both English and Spanish.|
|The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) is an award-winning nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. The HHF was established by the White House in 1988. Compassion & Choices is teaming up with HHF to get people talking about end-of-life planning, hospice, life support, medical power of attorney and medical aid-in-dying. Their involvement has included op-eds and a social media campaign to promote the End-of-Life Decisions Guide and Toolkit in both Spanish and English.|
Public Education Campaigns
By the time you read this piece, I will be dead.
But unlike Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who inspired the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act, I am unlikely to die peacefully from my brain tumor as she did after moving with her family to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law.
I did not live in a U.S. state or territory that gives terminally ill adults the option to get a prescription for aid-in-dying medication I could decide to take to die peacefully, as Brittany did, to end unbearable suffering.
As a result, I lived my last days with every horror that Brittany feared most: mind-splitting headaches, blackouts, blindness, convulsions and electric shocks from the incurable brain tumor that spread to my liver, stomach, testicles and other vital organs.
I didn’t want the tumor to dictate how I would die. I wanted to die the way I lived: with purpose and intention. I wanted to die gently and avoid the terrifyingly painful death that doctors said I would experience.
Unfortunately, medical aid in dying is not authorized in my native Puerto Rico, where my Catholic parents cared for me during the last days of my life.
For more than a year, I watched Brittany Maynard’s videos. I researched moving to one of the states that authorize medical aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont — or California, where the End of Life Option law took effect on June 9.
But my family didn’t have the resources to move 2,000 miles or more to one of these five states. As a result, I had to live and die with this horrible pain.
It is clear we have an issue in our country, where it is not affordable or practical for the vast majority of terminally ill people to move to another state, establish residency and find a medical team in order to die peacefully.
We shouldn’t have to die in unbearable pain and suffering.
So we must take action. We must email our legislators and our doctors to urge them to support broader end-of-life options.
And we Latinos must drop our cultural taboo about discussing death and the option of medical aid in dying.
I had numerous conversations with God throughout my life, especially during my illness. I could not understand why people judged me a sinner for wanting to die peacefully rather than enduring severe seizures and excruciating pain until the end of my life.
As a Catholic, I was taught it is wrong for anyone to judge someone else.
I was proud to learn I was Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when I recorded videos in English and in Spanish. Some media outlets referred to me as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.”
I am no longer alive to tell my story.
But my mama will not go silent. She will continue to be a loud, powerful voice so other terminally ill Latinos don’t have to suffer as I did. We need to keep fighting and fighting until somebody listens to us.
Click here to read a Spanish-language version of this piece.
An edited version of this op-ed was originally published in El Diario.
News About Miguel
Miguel's story was covered in publications across the country and especially in Spanish language media. Below are some of the highlights.
A Chicago man's wish: 'I pray to God that He takes me soon'
Cancer Is My Prison, and Intolerable Suffering Is My Sentence
El último deseo de Miguel Carrasquillo: “Para cuando usted lea este escrito, estaré muerto”
One Year Without My Son, Miguel
Miguel's videos were viewed widely among the nation's lawmakers and the Latino community. His impact was immense and these heart-wrenching videos are reminder why.
Miguel's Plea (Spanish)
One Year Later (English)
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In The News
- People en Españolpublished an exclusive interview with the iconic Dolores Huerta and the Mission and Vision Award. The online story includes the video interview with Dolores and photos we provided with our logo. The story is also available on YAHOO! news.
- EFE, a Spanish version of Associated Press, published another story, a more in-depth piece about Dolores' work throughout their career. The story, which ran in the San Diego Tribune en Español, also mentions her work for the end-of-life options movement. It also includes a photo by our storyteller Amanda Villegas, courtesy of Compassion & Choices, who shot some amazing photos at the event in Sacramento.
- El Diario NY and La Opinion (Los Angeles) published an op-ed by Antonio Tijerino and Dr. Yanira Cruz: Let’s Create a Culture Shift in the Way We Prepare for the End of Our Lives
- Spanish interview with Pat Portillo with Public News Service for Spanish News Release: Group Files Motion to Intervene & Oppose Federal Suit to Invalidate CA Medical Aid-in-Dying Law
- Los Angeles Times en Español published op-ed by Maria Otero.
- El Diario NY published story: News Conference To Urge NY Legislature to Pass Medical Aid in Dying Act in 2022
- LA RAZA (Chicago) published op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
- La Opinion (LA ) published Spanish op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
- We were on the red carpet in Hollywood with Mauricio Ochmann for the premiere of his new film, mentioned in: