12 things to watch in 2012

12 things to watch in 2012
Soledad O'Brien

2012 The Year Ahead

1. The Latino voter - How will Latino voters influence the 2012 presidential election? Latinos are key voters in many states. Obama got 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008 but those numbers could slip as many Latinos are upset over his immigration policies that have resulted in more than one million deported and the separation of families. It's not clear who the Republican candidate will be. But I don't see Latinos rallying around any of the Republican hopefuls. So many Latino voters might wind up not voting at all. We will watch at the polls.

2. DREAM Act - Legislation that would grant legal status to more 1.2 million undocumented youth who complete two years of college or military service has languished for more than a decade. The last big push to pass the DREAM Act in Congress failed in December 2010. Will there be a big push to pass it in 2012?  I would watch Democrats to push for the DREAM Act again as an attempt to woo Latino voters before the election.

3. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to look at the controversial immigration law passed in Arizona, SB 1070. At the heart of the matter is whether states have the authority to enforce immigration laws which generally fall under federal jurisdiction. This ruling could have ramifications for other states that have passed laws related to immigration, including California, Illinois, Alabama and Indiana.

4. Soledad O'Brien - The  journalist is now back on CNN as the anchor of Starting Point in the mornings making her one of the most high profile Latina journalists on television. She previously co-anchored American Morning from 2003 to 2007. It will be great to watch O'Brien again in a major news post.

5. NBC Latino is a new website that will launch in early 2012, the latest online media enterprise to focus on Latinos in the United States. It comes on the heels of  Huff Post Latino Voices,  CNN's Latino in America blog and Univision posting content English. Watch for more media companies to try and build up their Latino audiences.

6.  Ricky Martin will star as Ché in the Broadway revival of Evita, scheduled to open in April 2012. Watch for 2012 to be a great year for Martin.

7. New York Giant Victor Cruz helped lead his team into the playoffs. The native of Patterson, N.J. playing for his childhood team is a great story. He finished the regular season with 82 catches for 1,526 yards and nine touchdowns and also had a NFL record-tying 99-yard touchdown catch. Personally, I like to watch Cruz and his salsa moves when he scores a touchdown.

8. Lila Downs released a new album "Pecados y Milagros" in 2011 and will be on tour in 2012 with a stop in Chicago March 3. Downs and her partner Paul Cohen also have written the score for a new musical featuring Downs based on the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. A premiere date is pending. *

9. Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will travel to Cuba and Mexico in March 2012. This will be his first visit to Cuba and the Pope is expected to pay a visit to Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de Caridad del Cobre, celebrating her 400th anniversary. The Pope will meet with Raul Castro on this visit. The Pope also will visit Mexico and will meet with President Felipe Calderon.

10. Mexico will elect a new president on July 1, 2012. The big question is whether the PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled for 71 years, will make a comeback. Vicente Fox of the PAN or National Action Party party broke that streak and the current president Felipe Calderon also is of the PAN. The three leading candidates are Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD or Party of the Democratic Revolution, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the PAN party and Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party.  The drug war is disrupting civil society in Mexico and whoever is elected president will face many challenges. Watch to see who will be the next president of Mexico.

11. The residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, will vote in a Nov. 6, 2012 referendum on the future status of their island. The first part of the referendum will ask voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part will ask that voters choose from three options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association. Watch to see how Puerto Ricans vote on their political future.

12. Cancer is taking its toll on a surprising number leaders in Latin America. Presidents  Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, all have been recently diagnosed with cancer. Chavez alleged it could be some sort of conspiracy. That is loco. Fernandez had her thyroid removed and they found she was cancer free. We will watch to see how the rest recover.

*This post contains corrected information. The musical was set to debut at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., but it has been postponed.

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