R.I.P: 5 Latino Celebs We Lost in 2012

No year is without tragedy, and 2012 was no exception. While grief is a natural human emotion, more important than mourning what has been lost is celebrating what has been gained by its mere existence in the first place. We would like to take this opportunity to commemorate the incredible lives of those Latinos lost this year.

Whether a beautiful visionary, a charismatic fighter, a musical trailblazer, a stereotyped actress, or even a notorious drug dealer, each of these people no longer with us brought something to the Latino community that they served.   

1. Deaths 2012: Jenni Rivera

Jenni Rivera

Latinos everywhere continue to mourn the death of a talented woman taken too soon. Mexican-American singer and reality television star Jenni Rivera first hit it big breaking into the banda music genre which was a predominantly male form of music at the time, she is fondly known as “La Diva de la Banda." She since branched out into ranchera and pop music selling more than 15 million records. Her entrepreneurial spirit did not end with music, however. The beautiful Rivera had three reality television shows, television production companies, a clothing company, a cosmetics company, and even a real estate firm. Evidence of future ventures are now bittersweet reminders of the incredible woman that Rivera was and the unbelievable woman she would have continued to be. Tragedy struck on December 9 when a plane carrying Rivera crashed in Mexico killing all onboard. This shining star was only 43 years old.

2. Deaths 2012: Lupe Ontiveros

Lupe Ontiveros

Born in Texas to Mexican immigrants, actress Lupe Ontiveros helped to pave the way for those Latina actresses who would come after her. Despite being typecast as the maid in more than 150 productions, Ontiveros never gave up her fight to break free of the stereotype. Some of her most memorable onscreen parts include playing the crazed fan club leader who murders the Latina sensation in 1997’s Selena, an overbearing mother who wants her daughter to forget about college and work in the family’s dress shop in 2002’s Real Women Have Curves, and as the mother-in-law and nemesis of Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) in ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Ontiveros earned a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her role in Real Women Have Curves and earned an Emmy nomination for Best Guest Actress for Desperate Housewives. The talented actress passed away in California on July 26 of liver cancer. 

3. Deaths 2012: Macho Camacho

Macho Camacho

Decorated boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho was a force to be reckoned with both inside and outside the ring. His reputation as boxing’s very own bad boy helped to make him the champion that he was, always willing to take on those said to be greater than him. Fans who watched “Macho” Camacho in the ring didn’t just get a fight, they were treated to a full on performance from his unique costumes to his signature shout, “It’s Macho time!” Camacho entertained professionally for three decades winning a super-featherweight world title in 1983, a lightweight title in 1985, and two junior welterweight titles in 1989 and 1991. Unfortunately, his tumultuous life outside the ring caught up with him, and on November 20, at the age of 50, he was shot sitting in a parked car in Puerto Rico. Several days later on November 24 Camacho was pronounced dead and taken off of life support.

4. Deaths 2012: Chavela Vargas

Chavela Vargas

Vargas will forever be remembered as a trailblazer in her own right. Born in Costa Rica, but moved to Mexico City in search of fame, Vargas is probably best known for her hauntingly beautiful vocals that serenaded audiences with ranchera music well into her old age. She released 80 albums over the course of her life, and in 2007 The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences bestowed upon her the Lifetime Achievement Award. Not only a much loved performer, Vargas challenged gender stereotypes donning pants, drinking heavily, smoking cigars, and writing love songs about women. Vargas passed away peacefully on August 5 of this year.

5. Deaths 2012: Griselda Blanco

Griselda Blanco

Before her death this year at the age of 69, Griselda Blanco lived the kind of life that many might liken to a Hollywood film. She may be better recognized by one of her many aliases, The Cocaine Godmother, after the widespread cocaine drug trade she piloted throughout the United States and her home country of Colombia. Notorious in the 1970s and 1980s for her substantial cocaine business in Queens, New York, and drug-related brutality in Miami known as the Cocaine Cowboy Wars, Blanco spent time in and out of jail before finally being deported back to Colombia in 2004. On September 3, 2012, on her way out of a butcher shop in Medellín, Colombia, the city where she grew up, she was shot twice in the head in a motorcycle assassination.