From the archive: Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys’ Hispanic face

Enrique Tarrio
Enrique Tarrio, the former national leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, was sentenced to 22 years this week for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

On June 16, 2022, the Latinx Files newsletter wrote about Cuban American Enrique Tarrio and how Latinidad has been used to shield white supremacist views. After Tarrio’s sentencing to 22 years in prison this week for his role in the plot to keep then-President Trump in office, De Los is republishing this piece from the archives.

One of the most shocking moments from last Thursday’s inaugural congressional hearing on the Jan. 6 insurrection was the inclusion of never-before-seen footage of the Proud Boys leading the charge to the Capitol.

It highlighted, at least to me, how Latinidad can serve as a shield for extremist views.

You can’t talk about the Proud Boys, an organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, without talking about their leader, Enrique Tarrio.


Tarrio is a Cuban American from Miami’s Flagami neighborhood who assumed leadership of the Proud Boys after founder Gavin McInness (who also co-founded VICE) stepped down. He’s used his heritage to dismiss accusations that the organization advocates for white supremacy.

“I’m pretty brown. I am Cuban. There’s nothing white supremacist about me,” Tarrio told Insider in September 2020.

Actions, of course, speak louder than words.

Tarrio and the Proud Boys were active participants in the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. And though Tarrio himself wasn’t in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, new evidence suggests that he may have had a role in what transpired that day.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors revealed that Tarrio had received a memo outlining plans to take over congressional buildings. A week prior to the first Jan. 6 hearing, he and five other Proud Boys were indicted for seditious conspiracy.

Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three others are found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 insurrection. A fifth member was convicted of other serious felonies.

May 4, 2023

Even more troubling is that the Proud Boys have successfully bled into the political mainstream. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the organization had infiltrated the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County. That revelation was concerning enough that the Miami Herald’s editorial board all but begged Southern Florida Republicans to denounce the Proud Boys.

And as we enter the fall highlighted by midterm elections, the extremist rhetoric will surely be a constant on our social feeds and our family dinner tables.


“He’s a lot like many a Cuban-American cousin or high school friend,” noted Joshua Ceballos in a Miami New Times profile. “In that respect, one could easily mistake him for any other Miamian raised on the conservative rhetoric of el exilio.”

It’s too convenient to discount Tarrio as an isolated incident. But doing so is both wrong and dangerous. After all, he’s one of us.