Today, Time released its annual list of the 100 most influential people around the world. Divided into five sections – pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and icons – Time’s list includes both the most prominent figures and those affecting change at a local level. But unlike most years – where people across different fields are highlighted – this one has a more political lean.
“These past 12 months have sharpened our edges as political debates in the US and Europe, the Middle East and Asia, turned jagged and primal and seem almost perfectly designed to divide us more deeply,” Nancy Gibbs wrote explaining how the magazine made its picks this year. “In divisive times, it’s tempting to nestle in a comfort zone, surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, pray like us, vote like us. Yet many of the men and women on this year’s list are calling us out, using the technologies that connect us to expand how we see the world.”
The list is full of controversial figures, but also many who are driving forces. Not surprisingly, Pope Francis is back for another year. But alongside the these well-known faces, we also see activists like Carmen Pérez, Jeanette Vizguerra, and Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista get the recognition they deserve. Here are the Latinos and Latin Americans who made Time‘s list this year:
Carmen Pérez, Pioneer
Carmen Pérez made the list along with other Women’s March organizers Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, and Linda Sarsour. “[They] had the courage to take on something big, important and urgent, and never gave up,” wrote Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.”Because of their hard work, millions of people got off the sidelines, raised their voices and marched.”
In recent years, Demi Lovato has used her platform to speak about mental illnesses. “She has also been a public role model, unashamedly chronicling her struggles with substance abuse (she is now five years sober) and eating disorders,” Arianna Huffington wrote. “And having been bullied as a child, Demi has taken up the cause to protect other children.”
This year, Tom Pérez became the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Tom’s the right person to lead the world’s longest-surviving political party during a stress test of our constitutional democracy,” wrote Tim Kaine. “And he’s smart enough to see that the key to victory is the passion of everyday people.”
Last year, Pope Francis made the list as a titan, but by speaking out about the refugee crisis, this year he was better suited for the leader category. “Before being elected Pope, Francis gave a speech to his fellow Cardinals warning against becoming a “self-referential” church, rather than one that goes out of itself to the margins of society to be with those who suffer,” wrote Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. “That is where God is working in the world and where he calls us to be.”
Last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Colombian government’s negotiations with FARC. “While Colombia was waging a dire war against the drug cartels, Santos was looking beyond,” wrote Ingrid Betancourt. “Amid death, corruption and political divisions, I remember him saying, ‘We need to add, not subtract.'”
Immigrant rights leader Jeanette Vizguerra has fought against her own deportation for eight years, while she simultaneously contributed to the United States. She’s currently taking sanctuary in a church in Denver. “The current Administration has scapegoated immigrants, scaring Americans into believing that undocumented people like Jeanette are criminals,” America Ferrera wrote. “She came to this country not to rape, murder or sell drugs, but to create a better life for her family. She shed blood, sweat and tears to become a business owner, striving to give her children more opportunities than she had. This is not a crime. This is the American Dream.”
Last summer, Neymar led his team to Olympic gold. “A series of images I once discovered on the Internet shows me and Neymar together over a decade, from when I was at Real Madrid and he was just a young boy to today,” David Beckham wrote. “Although it does make me feel my age, it also shows the remarkable progression of a young man who at 25 is well on his way to becoming the best player in the world.”
Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana uncovered a corrupt network that led all the way to former President Otto Pérez Molina. “La Línea (the investigation that followed) sparked the biggest demonstrations ever known in Guatemala and set an important example for countries in Central America and beyond,” wrote José Carlos Ugaz.
After being dragged by her hair by her former partner, Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista openly discussed the gender-based violence that exists in Peru. “Her case – and her willingness to speak publicly about it – helped propel thousands of women onto the streets of Lima that summer to protest gender violence,” wrote Susanna Schrobsdorff.