After a life time of political activism and appointive offices, Esteban Torres, 52, will represent California's heavily Hispanic 34th District in Los Angeles County.

Born in Arizona and raised in California, Torres worked his way up through the ranks of the United Auto Workers. In 1968 he helped found TELACU (The East Los Angeles Community Union), a Hispanic community development program. He left TELACU in 1973 to wage an unsuccessful primary battle against former congressman George E. Danielson.

Torres then returned to the UAW as co-director of the union's International Affairs office, a post he left in 1977 after being appointed by President Carter to the Paris-based post of U.S. amassador to UNESCO.

Torres returned from Paris in 1979 to serve as a special assistant on Hispanic affairs in the Carter White House. From the time of Carter's defeat until this spring, when he returned to California to make his successful congressional bid, Torres was a co-owner of an international trading company based in Washington, D.C.

Torres' district is heavily Democratic, designed in reapportionment as a Hispanic district, and once he beat former congressman Jim Lloyd in the primary, he was home free.

Torres is a moderate Democrat, an opponent of abortion who took a strong stand against Reagonomics. Unemployment is a major problem in Torres' district. A Fort Motor Co. plant was closed several years ago in Pico Rivera, a blue-collar community in the heart of Torres' district. Given torres' background and the district he represents, he will arrive in Washington with strong interest in the economic well-being of minorities and in foreign affairs.

Torres and his wife, Arcy, have five children. One of their daughters, Rena, works on Capitol Hill for Rep. Matthew G. (Marty) Martinez (D-Calif.).