United States

Cristina Martínez: for daring to talk about undocumented restaurant workers

To mark International Women's Day, Univision honors 15 incredible Latinas who are innovating in fields from sports to science.

8 Mar 2018 – 7:39 AM EST

Undocumented Mexican chef Cristina Martinez has captured the media’s attention in recent months, thanks to the food at El Compadre, her modest restaurant in South Philadelphia.

After almost 10 years, she's been recognized by Bon Appétit, Zagat and James Beard; as well as by Mayor Jim Kenney, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia and several film and television producers.

But even more than her food, she’s being heralded for her activism.

Martinez escaped domestic violence in Mexico and settled in Philadelphia in 2009. From there she has helped to spur an urgent discussion in the Trump era: the need for an end to the criminalization of more than one million undocumented restaurant workers. Despite being fundamental to the U.S. hospitality industry, these immigrants live with the constant fear of deportation.

Last year, Univision produced a Spanish-language podcast, called “Mejor vete, Cristina,” about Martinez’s story.

Emma Gonzalez
For calling B.S. on the NRA
Marlen Esparza
For revolutionizing women's boxing
Germaine Franco
For bringing Mexican music to the big screen
Rita Moreno
For redefining what it means to be 86
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
For bringing marginalized farmworker's voices into the #MeToo conversation
Diana Trujillo
For getting us closer to Mars
Princess Nokia
For infusing rap with punk rock, feminism and 'Afrolatinidad'
Candi CdeBaca
For fighting gentrification in a changing Denver
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski
For breaking barriers in the exploration of space and time
Cristina Martínez
For daring to talk about undocumented restaurant workers
Geisha Williams
For leading California into a green energy future
Elizabeth Guzman
For taking her immigrant story to the Virginia legislature
Reyna Montoya
For encouraging undocumented youth to dream and heal
Maria Hinojosa
For putting Latino stories front and center
Gabby Rivera
For being the first queer Latina to write for Marvel Comics

Coordination: Jessica Weiss, Olivia Liendo and Allie Jaynes.

Illustrations: Grace Berríos and Jackie Albano.

Web design and development: Juan Jesús Gómez.

Editorial: Nathalie Alvaray, Tamoa Calzadilla, Juliana Jiménez, Douglas Gómez and Rogerio Manzano.

Photo Editing: David Maris.

This story was produced in collaboration with Univision Contigo, Univision's social responsibility team.

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