Interviewee: Horacio Aguirre
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: August 22, 2002
P: This is Julian Pleasants and I'm in Miami, Florida. I'm speaking with Horacio
Aguirre. This is August 22. Will you tell me when and where you were born?
A: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in April 20, 1925.
P: Your parents were Nicaraguan?
A: My parents were from Nicaragua, and they were there [Louisiana] for special
circumstances when I was born. All the family moved from New Orleans to
Leon, Nicaragua when I was, I guess, three or four years old. Then I lived in
Nicaragua until May 1947, when I left the country and [came] to the United States
for about nine months. Then I went to live in Panama City in order to finish my
law school that I started in Managua, Nicaragua because I was not living all the
time in Leon, Nicaragua, and I finished my law degree in Panama. I started
working as [an] editorial writer in El Panama America and the editor and owner
was the former president of the republic, Dr. Armodio Arias, one of the more
outstanding journalists and lawyers in this hemisphere. He was educated at the
University of London. Then, I was the editorial writer in Panama working [at] the
Panama America, helping him in many other things and learning not only in the
editorial aspect of the articles, but also in the editorial departments and news
departments and everything until April 1953, when I moved to Miami in order to
start to prepare the inauguration of the paper Diario Las Americas in July 4,
P: Why did you decide to start a newspaper in Miami?
A: I studied carefully the geographical position of Miami, especially the geographical
position of Miami that in that time, almost half a century [ago], was a great
inter-American city, and now is more than that. We considered that the era of
the jet, in the airline field, [was] coming immediately, and if we print the
newspaper in Spanish in Miami, we can use the airlines in order to [have the
newspaper] two hours and a half later in New York, two hours and a half later in
Panama, four hours and a half or, at the maximum, five in California, two hours
and a half or something like that in Puerto Rico, and in many cities of the United
States where our Latin American communities that was important for us and also
the cities in this hemisphere where they could have interest in a type of paper
that is concentrated to all the news about the world. More especially
inter-American news, including news of the United States, local news of the state
of Florida and metropolitan area of Miami, and news of all the Latin American
countries. It's a paper of general information about the world, not only about
Miami or only about the Latin American countries. Our slogan is, since the first
day, "For liberty, culture, and hemispheric solidarity." But after the hemispheric
solidarity, we can include and we include always the human solidarity in all the
P: Does this newspaper still go to other cities today?
A: Yes, [it] still go[es].
P: What is your major competition in Miami? Is El Nuevo Herald any competition at
all or is it a different kind of paper?
A: I consider El Neuvo Herald competition because they started] fifteen years ago
and they follow, not the policy, but the idea of Diarios Las Americas. We
created] Diario las Americas because we knew at that time that Miami was not
only a city with people who speak Spanish because they come here as touristss.
Miami used to have a permanent population [of] about 125,000 to 150,000
persons, but the idea was not only to cover them, [but] to use them as a base to
send the paper to other places, and the qualities of those inhabitants who [spoke]
Spanish at that time was very high. That means [they] could speak perfect
English with all the merits proper, but they needed] to view more information
about the Latin American countries or about the Latin culture that we offeredd.
That opened the doors to Diario Las Americas in order to have an interest in
those Latin populations over here to read Diario Las Americas.
P: So, this was originally directed to the more educated people in Miami?
A: In certain aspects yes, but in other aspects, to try to educate people who [have
no] education. In other words, in one way we reflect the public opinion that
exists, and in other aspects we create public opinion through the quality of our
news and our orientation. We use the [educated] people as permanent
readers] from the beginning, and also we start to educate persons that for one
[reason] or another, were not well educated. Because [of] the prestige of our
paper, they were reading the paper, they were learning through the paper about
many things that perhaps they [did] not know before.
P: Where did you get the capital, the money, to start the paper?
A: It's the capital of the family.
P: When you started it, what was your initial newspaper like? How many pages?
What was your circulation?
A: We started] with eight pages, trying to concentrate in eight pages on the different
aspects of the information that was necessary to offer our readers. Naturally, in
eight pages we were obligated to offer everything in captions so to speak, but
we offered many, many things, not like right now because we have more pages
every day and the special Sunday edition. But we always start with news, first of
all, about the countries well represented in the community because it's logical
that they like to know what [is] happening in their own countries, but not only in
their own countries, in the other countries neighboring] them. One of the things
that Diario Las Americas has been doing has been to create interest in the
people from other countries to know what happened in the neighbors of their
P: I noticed in today's paper you had news items from Panama and Honduras and
A: Also, when the case of Cuba [came up about the migration of people from
Castro's Cuba to Miami], the Latin American people were very interested in this
tremendous problem created by the totalitarian dictatorship of Fidel Castro. For
instance, many years ago, somebody was nominated minister of foreign
relations. Probably in that time, not everybody was interested to know what his
ideology [or], his position [was]. Now, everybody [wants] to know who is this
new minister of foreign relations of a country that perhaps they never [have] been
[to], but they are interested to know the ideological position of this minister of
foreign relations or the president of the Congress of this country, something that
did not exist in that degree before.
P: For example, again today I noticed an article about President Vincente Fox
[President of Mexico, 2000-present] who had cancelled his visit to the United
States because a Mexican had been executed in Texas.
A: Yes, we have to offer this information as news to the people. If there [is]
somebody who [wants] to write opinion about this, political or philosophical
opinion, we have very good writers and also if there are not permanent writers
[on staff?], and it's a very good article or [a] very responsible opinion, normally, in
accordance with our limitations of space, we offer to our readers the opinion of
somebody that expresses criteria about the decision of the president, and why
the president that, because not necessarily is [it] because the president's [idea
but], it's because he has political problems. If you like to use this word
problems, or political situation, inside of Mexico and he has to do whatever it is
proper to do in the moment, in accordance with his circumstance.
P: When you started out, how many days a week did you publish?
A: We started with the paper printing with the date of the same day and [we] always
did it one day less in the week because [of] the influence of the Cuban papers.
Take into consideration the [number] of Cubans that existed in that time over
here, not only Cubans, but some weeks we used to have every day. A Sunday
edition, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, but then we
eliminated] the Monday edition [for] technical aspects. Practically, we have [a]
Monday edition because we use this method. We print the paper late in the
afternoon, but not extremely late in the afternoon, with the date of the next day.
One of the reasons is because we have national [and] international circulation
and when we go to Washington, D.C. or San Francisco or San Juan, Puerto
Rico, we are in the [news] stands with the date of the same day, and also, as you
know, if you go to the streets in New York at 8:00 in the hotels and so on and so
forth, you can buy the New York Times with the date of the next day. The same
thing happens] in Miami with the Miami Herald. I do not know if they [are] still
doing that, but I think, yes, in the afternoon of Saturday, in any supermarket, you
can buy, in Miami, the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald. Naturally, they have
all the ability to change the front page if it's necessary, in accordance with certain
news, radical change or small changes, but basically, the paper is printed in one
day with the date of the next day. You [can] buy the Sunday edition [of Diario
Las Americas on] Saturday evening, but over here in all the stands or drug stores
or supermarkets and everything, you can buy only Sunday, but the paper was on
the street Saturday evening with the date of Sunday.
We don't work. In other words, in the evening of Sunday we don't print a paper,
but Monday we work as a regular day and this paper appears with the date of
Tuesday and the name of the day, Tuesday. Practically, it's the paper of
Monday, technically [it does] not appear in the records, if you are collecting [the
paper] week by week.
P: But by and large you put your paper to bed in the early afternoon? By 1:00 or
A: No, no, no. Later than that. We [finish] with the paper about 3:00.
Immediately, we send the paper to the airport to [put it on] the airplanes to [go to]
the cities that we [sell in], and immediately to the stands and drug stores, and to
the home delivery. We have [had] home delivery over here since the beginning.
If you are a subscriber, you'll receive the paper in your home always about 7:00
[P.M.] and the people read the paper immediately or at the time that they want.
It's a matter of decision of the reader.
P: What is your circulation today?
A: Our circulation today is about 65,000 to 70,000.
P: How much of that is in the United states?
A: I can say about 90 percent because outside] of the United States, you can buy
this paper in the more popular and well known streets of Buenos Aires, but it's
not for everybody-they have good newspapers over there. It's for the people who
like to know what happened] over here or the synthesis of the news about the
countries that speak Spanish or for any other reason. But the majority of our
readers are in the United States and naturally, in the south part of Florida.
P: Over the years, what has been your biggest sources of income?
A: The advertising.
P: The classified or larger advertisements?
A: I don't have this information at this moment, but our general advertising, display
advertising and classified advertising, more are the displayed [kind], but the
classified [ads] are very close in the proportion.
P: I noticed in the paper today, you had an advertisement for Blackie's House of
Beef in Washington, D.C. In fact, you had two advertisements from D.C.
A: Yes, that's right. It's because there are people who read Diarios Las Americas
and like to go to have the very good steak that they sell and the other reason, the
drug store that they sell things like that. There are many people out of this area
that [are] living in Washington or living in San Juan, Puerto Rico and have a
tremendous interest in the classified [ads] because they are trying to buy an
apartment over here, a house over here, a boat or whatever it is and they read
the paper like they were living in Miami, maybe because they would like to move
to Miami or to buy property over here to come during the summer time or
something like that.
P: When you started out, what were your ultimate goals for the newspaper? What
did you hope to achieve in forty-nine years?
A: The normal aspiration. Our purpose was to establish a permanent newspaper in
order to inform, to reflect public opinion, and to create public opinion in
accordance with our ideas, which are our ideas in the political field, democracy,
in the civic field, in the moral field. We have, without any doubt, the purpose of
defending] the morality of our society even though that represents] [the loss of]
some income that comes] from certain type of activities or business that are
against the morality, [that] destroy the morality of the new generations and
perhaps of the old generations.
P: Would you print ads from liquor companies or night clubs, that sort of thing?
A: Oh, yes. If it's our normal night clubs, decent night clubs, so to speak, no
question about it. We don't have any objections. But if there is something that
represents different values against the moral principle of a normal society, we
don't accept it.
P: Over the years, have you written most of the editorials yourself?
A: Yes. I write all the editorials basically, from here or dictating or writing, I can
mention far places like Hong Kong, Tokyo. In the Pacific side, Tokyo, Manila or
Europe or whatever it is. It's a part of my life.
P: What topic do you chose to write about, usually?
A: Many topics. For instance, the editorial in this paper is about security on the
roads where you are driving your car and you become tired and you need to go
to certain places to rest, to sleep. We explain that there are many places,
particularly in the state of Florida where the authorities protect certain places and
so on and so forth, and I developed this idea maybe tomorrow could be the visit
of the Pope in Toronto or the visit of the Pope in [Poland], his home country, or
could be about the elections, the civic obligations of the people to read about the
candidates, to ask about the candidates in order to be ready to vote for the
proper persons. All the things that represent human interests, we cover in the
P: Did you write an editorial about the Pope's visit to Cuba?
P: What did you say?
A: I don't remember exactly, but I said-I can send to you a copy of those articles-I
said that he represents] a lot for humanity, not only for the Catholic people, for
humanity. He is [an] exceptional person in this planetarian world, so to speak.
We consider that he could influence, not the government, but the people, to show
them the support of the Vatican and also the lessons that they could learn from
his speeches, his homilies and so on and so forth. We were not against his trip,
we [did] not criticize him for [this]. I criticized] Castro when Castro almost
insulted] him in the first speech. He insulted Spain, he insult[ed] the Catholic
church. Basically, [it] was a tremendous hostility for one of the more important
persons of the world that went there to give him a very good opportunity in his
favor or in the favor of his country, but not to the Pope.
P: Do you have reporters that you send out for general interest stories, or do you
use articles from other newspapers? I noticed you used some articles about
Florida that were in the St. Petersburg Times.
A: Yes, as a service, you know. As a service we have, in some occasions, our own
contacts. For instance, if something happen[s]-where do you live?
P: In Gainesville.
A: Maybe through this friendship that we are starting now, it's good for us, we are
proud to be your friend, and maybe I call you and say [to] you, Doctor, what
happened] over there? What is your opinion? And you can say to me, well I
will write an article to you, you can sell it to me, I will sell you the article or you
can sell it to me. Without any interest, I will sell you something or I will transmit
to you my opinion, my interpretation of this thing. That happens in all the cities
where we have contacts, all of the cities where [there] are problems involved.
Besides that, we used to have some correspondents, a special correspondent,
but naturally for economic reasons, we cannot have [one] in each country.
P: Do you have local reporters?
A: Over here?
A: Oh, yes.
P: How many people work at the newspaper all together?
A: In all the departments? Probably about 200, including the circulation department
and advertising department, shop and so on and so forth.
P: Do you have a printing company as well?
A: We print our own.
P: You print your own paper?
P: Do you do other printing jobs?
A: We used to do that for the Catholic newspaper they call The Voice, and they
were, for certain years, printing the paper over here, but we did not accept other
opportunities because we don't like to be submitted to the problems of others
when we have our own problems. I will show you our press and so on, but we
cannot be depending on the characteristics of other newspapers when we have
to be ready on time and so on and so forth.
P: One of the things that I find of great interest are letters to the editor. How have
those letters changed over the years?
A: That depends here and in any other newspaper, in accordance with the changes
of the society. But at our newspaper, we have people that respond to the
concepts of the moment and people who respond [to] the concepts [of] perhaps a
century ago or people that respond [to] the concepts of ten years ago or ten days
ago, and we include all of those letters if [they] were written with [a] sense of
responsibility that will not insult other persons. But the changes are more or less
the same, including many young people that are very mature and could write
letters with traditional concepts.
P: I noticed in the paper today there was a letter extolling Evita Peron [wife and
political partner of President Juan Peron, Argentina] as a great woman, and of
course, she died in 1952.
A: Yes. That, I think, was written by somebody who wrote a book about her.
And I will tell you something. I was the editorial writer of El Panama America at
that time and I was not in favor of the policy of Peron against the democratic
concepts and against the respect to the freedom of expression. In his
administration, with the cooperation or inspiration of his wife, [they] only were
publishing things in favor of the government. But that [does] not mean that if this
gentleman sent us a letter or [wrote] an article about Mrs. Peron [that] we will not
use it. We give the opportunity [to] him and the opportunity to our readers to see
the other [side of the issue]. In accordance with the readers of our newspaper,
[whose] mentality or interests are changing because the situation in the world
and the situation of this part of the nation and the situation of Cuba, there are
many interests about the situation of Cuba or about the local news, problems of
this community because the tremendous amount of population that we have, and
they write about these things.
P: Prescription drugs and Social Security and all that?
A: Yes, all of those. Or international problems, too.
P: Do you get a good group of younger readers? All the newspaper people I talk to
today say that young people watch television, but they don't read newspapers
A: I know that tendency exists, but we are trying to stimulate the interest of them to
read, not in order to say to them not to [watch] television or not to use your time
in other activities, but we are trying to stimulate them to read papers and to read
books and to read.
P: Has there ever been an occasion where an editorial you wrote has offended one
of your customers who takes out ads in the paper, so that they would cancel the
advertising in reaction to an editorial they did not like?
A: No. From this philosophical aspect, in the last forty-nine years, we don't have
any problem. The only thing that we could have a problem is if [it] could involve
us in a legal problem, but that is not because we like to impose certain opinions.
If I have to have a special group of lawyers to defend myself from something like
that, it's normally that I do not accept. I don't remember. Even though we have
independence, criteria that probably is not always in favor of the concepts of the
life of the other person, I don't remember any problem. For race aspects or
political aspects or something like that.
P: So you wouldn't have any negative response if you wrote an editorial that might
be critical of the Cubans in Miami?
A: The only thing that I can tell you this. I will write any editorial that I consider
proper in accordance with our ideas and our philosophical concepts of the
situation. If we [are not] accepted by all the Cuban readers, that will not be the
argument to stop our position or to change our position. We coincide with them
for a matter of principle, not because we are thinking [whether] they will be happy
or they will not be happy. In connection with the embargo, I am in favor of the
embargo and I know that there are some the majority of the Cubans are in
favor of the embargo, but [there] could be important [people] that are against the
embargo. As a matter of fact, we have, in certain occasions, people who write
articles over here permanently, with [a] high sense of responsibility that [do] not
necessarily [agree] with the editorial position of the newspaper. For instance, in
his recent book, Mr. Jose Ignacio Rasco, who is a very well known writer, his
book speaks] in good terms about Diario Las Americas, he recognized that in
many occasions he writes articles in our newspaper that do not coincide with the
editorial position of the paper.
P: What was your editorial position on Elian Gonzalez?
A: In favor of Elian Gonzalez under the concept that Elian Gonzalez was supposed
to be in the United States where his mother brought [him] from Cuba. I wrote
several articles about this because it's [a] matter of my professional [opinion]-I'm
a lawyer. The patria potestas, which is a concept of Roman law, is in favor of
the boy, of children, not in favor of the father of the children. The government of
the United States decided] in favor of the father, not in favor of the children, and
really was in favor of Castro. That transformed this case into] a political case.
Because we know, and I know and I learned that [under] the patria potestas, the
obligation is in favor of the children. For instance, if you have the right of a boy
after a divorce-and I think I mentioned in two or three editorials about this-and
the judge gives you the patria potestas and after a certain time you have a home
dedicated to prostitution and the boy lives] there and you are his father and you
are the father who received from the judge the right to control his life, his mother
died. Many friends of the family could go to the court and say this person has the
patria potestas of this boy [and] was receiving by him, because the judge
considered that was proper, but they are using this boy to open the doors to the
prostitutes in that house and we, in the name of morality, in the name of the
mother who died who was our friend or whatever it is, we consider that that is
improper and we ask to eliminate the right of this father because he is using this
right against the children. The idea and spirit of the law in this case is in favor of
the children, not in favor of the father.
P: That would not be true of Elian Gonzalez, would it? Or do you see having him
back in Cuba under a dictator as violating his rights?
A: Yes. Included in the Constitution. I wrote an editorial about [how] the
prostitution was Cuba, [which was] obligate[d] to educate this boy under the
communist doctrine where they do not have any civic rights, civil rights,
democratic rights and so on and so forth. That is a matter of the constitution.
When they put him in the hands of Fidel Castro, [they] are obligating him to
become a communist, to become a person after several years that will be against
all the principles that are in favor of a normal person through the moral aspect,
legal aspect, ideological aspect, freedom aspect.
P: How has the technology changed the newspaper from the time you began up to
the current time?
A: We started] with the hot type and we changed little by little until [we have] many
things that exist now. I cannot tell you that we are exactly in the top level of the
technology. First of all, the technology changes week by week, but they send to
you a machine over here in this room, in the other room there is a new one.
When they finish this one, they open this door and start selling the other one.
But the changes are tremendous in the newspaper, as well as in the bank
industry and in all the things, through technology, through the computer system.
Well, every single method is in.
P: Since you can now get newspapers on the Internet, do you think there will be a
time when we will no longer have a physical newspaper?
A: That is a matter of great discussion. I personally feel that there are many
persons that will use the Internet, but will [not] accept the Internet as a monopoly
in order to destroy [other] things. There are concepts, traditions, including the
new generations that will like to read a book and a newspaper. In many
aspects, you can possibly feel, at least I consider-and not only myself, many
people-that the paper, the newsprint, not only the newspaper, the newsprint,
when issued as a newspaper or book, has a soul, more than the plastic
elements. It's not the same to have this book over there. Behind this [there] is
a book about the great poet of my country, one of the greatest in the world,
Ruben Dario. This book is not the same [as] the plastic thing, to have it.
P: You're saying it's tangible, you can touch it, you can hold it and therefore...
A: You have the impression that [it] has a soul.
P: There's a connection when you hold it.
A: That's right. And also when you have a book that your father [gave] to you and
including smell, the book smell, you open the book and you start receiving the
smell of the paper and so on and so forth. Also, you can keep it to read in the
automobile, to read in many places of the world. I don't think that will disappear.
Naturally, there are facts that indicate that the Internet, with many bad things
and many good things, is progressing. I said bad things because you can [find]
in the Internet many novel, material, important things, but also you [find] terrible
things against the morality, against the best traditions of this civilization. You
can perhaps compare the Internet [with] a big building where you have 100
rooms. Many of those rooms are worth very, very good and very novel material,
but also you have some terrible rooms where you have prostitution, pornography
and everything in [the] same building. In other words, the person who goes to
the building can select the rooms they want, but has the temptation to go to the
[End of side A1]
A: You remember when radio startedd. Many people [thought that] when the radio
started] with program of news, that [meant] that [it] probably [would] reduce or
eliminate the newspaper. Seventy-five years ago, eighty-five years ago the
problems of the radio [started]. They have very good programs, one hour, one
hour-and-a-half with news, but if you know that something will be important, you
say to somebody, please use this machine, I like to read it, to hear at midnight.
They offer very, very good information in capsules, but they don't kill the
newspaper. They use the newspaper, in many occasions, to include in their
P: I was talking with Tom Fiedler, the editorial page editor at the Miami Herald,
about the 2000 presidential election and you could find out exactly what was
happening on CNN, but it took a newspaper to interpret those events and
organize the information for the reader. You couldn't get it on television. Do
you feel like that's one of the purposes of your paper?
A: I agree with it. On some occasions, the television and the radio stations are
very good for certain types of information, but for instance in television, they only
have three seconds, five seconds, [if] it's something large. In [a] newspaper
you [get] more information.
P: How have the roles of women and minorities changed in the forty-nine years
you've been in the publishing business?
A: We start [off] being minorities, naturally, and we did not have any problem with
the women and the men. As a matter of fact, that is not exactly. It's actually
like a joke, but some group of men could [sue] us because we have [had] many
women in the forty-nine years in good positions. Our experiences are this lady
that [came] over here is in a high position of this company and we trust her
opinion and her loyalty and her ability to direct people under her, [a] woman or
gentleman. The minority in our case is not a problem because we are a minority
and the great part of the personnel are part of the minority for logical reasons, not
because we discriminate [against] the other person, it's because of the type of
our activities. We have to be in contact with the people who read Spanish, [and]
if people who read Spanish [are] found over here, [then they have] many
opportunities to work, and we found them [to have] many abilities to be in contact
with our readers. [This does] not happen exactly in the case of our advertising.
If we have people who cannot speak English, they cannot sell in Burdines or
Sears or something like that advertising. This lady is bilingual and many are
P: So you'd have no problem hiring a Spanish speaking Anglo person then.
A: No. As a matter of fact, we have [had] many in occasions like that. I will tell
you this as a personal aspect of my life. My father-in-law, who unfortunately
passed away, was from Richmond, Virginia. He was in Nicaragua in the
Tropical Regions Telegraph Company, a part of the United Fruit Company.
His wife was a Nicaraguan. In other words, my wife is 50 percent Nicaraguan
from her mother and 50 percent from her father. I remember very, very well, he
passed away when we had several children. We have six children, she's
number four. There are two: Alejandro, who unfortunately is not here, [because
of] an emergency is in Tampa now, he expressed to us [his] apology] about this.
We start in our family, Helen, my wife, could be 100 percent Latin or 100
percent American, bilingual and knows] exactly all the traditions of the United
States, all our traditions. We know that perfectly well in our private life and if we
have in our private life in one way or the other, we project [it] in our business life.
P: In the beginning, in many newspapers in this state, women were restricted to
social news or limited leadership positions.
A: That is not the case over here. We had, for instance, yesterday or [the] day
before yesterday, we borrowed our first society editor. She retired about three
years ago. After that, we had a man, two men in this position, with the help of
the ladies. This lady who was here is in the administration department. As a
matter of fact, this woman is the head of the advertising department.
P: For the record, would you tell me the official position of your daughter?
A: Her official position is opinion page editor. I will tell you something, it's not
because she is here, she has this position not because she is my daughter, it's
because [she] has the experience, has the devotion and the education or
instruction because this has been a matter of many editorials. From our point of
view, there [is] education and instruction. Over here in general terms they say
education, [meaning] instruction and education too, but there are persons with
great instruction and no education. Education is a more integral thing. It
represents character, moral principle, moral concepts of life, and also technology
and everything. There are people with great instruction and no education, and
there are persons with great education, but for one reason or another, do not
have enough instruction.
P: They don't use their education properly?
A: That's right. To me, education is when you receive in the school, moral principle
civic principless, courtesy principless, concepts of patriotism. Then you are
educated. That creates [the] character aspects in your personality. The other
thing is to be a star, to be the best specialist in civil method and probably you
ignore all the other aspects. The ideal thing is to have formation and
information. Education is formation, instruction is information.
P: From what you've told me, I think it's obvious that you believe that your position
as publisher requires you to be involved in a lot of civic activities.
A: Yes. In a paper of our size, the editor and the publisher is the same in our case.
In big newspapers and great organizations of the United States, the publisher
only represents the owners of the property, even though perhaps they indicate
who will be the editor. In our case, we have both things.
P: Let me talk a little bit about some of you local contributions. I noticed that you
were on the board of trustees of the Miami Art Museum.
A: Yes, I was a founder.
P: And the Latin Chamber of Commerce.
A: Yes, that's 1,800 or almost 2,000 business organizations.
P: So that's a very important business association in Miami.
A: In this community, yes.
P: Also, I was interested in the Cuban Journalists in Exile. Would you tell me a little
bit about that organization?
A: The Colegio de Periodistas de Cuba en el Exilio is all the journalists that come
from there, working or not working in newspapers over here in this community.
They are organized because [of] the love of the profession and in one way or the
other they participate in programs of radio or television or writing in the
newspaper and they consider themselves professionally active even though
perhaps they are not on a payroll of any organization. They used to have, and
they still have, very important and outstanding members. The best member of
the journalist profession in Cuba [came] from there to here [and], by the way,
wrote in Diario Las Americas.
Now many of them like this gentleman who is here, he was, like myself, later on
president of the Inter-American Press Association and was a great
correspondent of La Prensa de Buenos Aires and is Don Guillermo Martinez
Martes. He, like many others [of] his caliber, were living here and because the
number of years of the tyranny of Castro and the age of them when they started]
coming to here, unfortunately they passed] away. But all of them have written
in this paper, and now the new generation has access. As a matter of fact, the
president of them is a member of our reporter staff, not because he's a president
of the Colegio, for coincidence, but is a member.
P: Let me ask you a little bit about your attitude and editorials about Miami. For
example, how has the Hispanic community changed since you've been at the
A: There is no [doubt] that the presence of the Cubans in this community [have]
transformed] substantially the physical and cultural aspects of this great city of
Miami, which was a great city before then, too. Naturally, it's more compelling
with them. At the beginning, half a million Cubans [came] over here under very
well-organized systems with the coordination with the government, Freedom
Flights and so on and so forth. They contributed enormously to change the
aspects of the city, of the physical and cultural and human activities of this
community because Miami did not have [that] in that time. At the beginning,
they [had] half a million persons [from Cuba] who were working in [in jobs like]
elevator [attendants]. I remember exactly this case in the Columbus Hotel
downtown, that [does] not exist [now]. I saw somebody open the door, closing
the door, and reading something. Reading something. I saw what he was
reading in Spanish, a great thinker, Ortega y Gasset [Spanish philosopher,
author of Revolt of the Masses (1929)] from Spain. Naturally, normally, it [was]
not the case. Normally, the person who is reading Ortega y Gasset will not be
working in [an elevator], will not be reading Emerson too. Could be a nice
person, but [he] would not be doing that. These half a million persons that come
were the best type of persons in each social level, the best manicurist, the best
barber, the best physician, the best lawyer, the best teacher, the best in each
aspect of the social organization of the country.
P: You're talking about the Cuban exiles, 1960 and 1961?
A: The first half a million, but not only them. For instance in the Mariel [Boat Lift],
Castro sent some delinquent persons, but [in the] many people that [came] in the
Mariel Boat Lift, you found sopranos, lawyers, very, very good persons, high
quality persons with good manners and so on and so forth, and they continued
their studies over here and [were] part of Mariel. Many people think because
Castro sent, infiltrated, people that he took from the jail and sent over here in
order to discredit the community, despite that, there are very, very nice persons.
I can show you in the civic art in the theater, many, three or four nice ladies that
[came] when they were eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one years old, and they
started] music then with great personality, very good manners and splendid
voice that they started] over there and they perfected over here.
P: Do you see most of the Marielitas as political prisoners?
A: No, because if they were in the jail, they were not coming here. In my opinion,
I'll just give my perception, they were persons that-criminals were in the jail and
Castro put [them] out in order to send [them] here with the honest people-but the
majority of the people were honest people.
P: But there were criminals and people who had been in insane asylums, as well, in
A: Very, very small proportion. Many of them, because that is my experience
conversing with them, I am one of the persons that know these exiles, you know.
Including, because I am not a member of the exiles. I have more opportunities
to identify them. The great majority of them are nice persons maybe could be a
modest person, decent person, and good workers and so on and so forth.
P: That's very interesting because the general impression was, even in the history
books, that Castro really fooled Jimmy Carter [U.S. President, 1977-1981] and
dumped all of his undesirables on Miami.
A: That happened, but not in [great] proportion. That happened, no question about
it. That happened. But because the government of the United States did not
take all the measures in order to control this thing, but the majority, 98 percent
were nice persons. That do[es] not mean that they were the best doctors, but
P: What is your attitude toward the United States government's position on
immigration into the United States? I noticed that more Argentines are coming
into Florida and Cubans still try to enter Florida by boat. Do you think the
government of the United States is properly dealing with the issue of
A: There are many aspects [to] this problem. The inter-American solidarity, in [a]
certain way, obligates the United States to open the door to the good people that
are suffering tremendous tyranny or bad situations in their countries. We have
to take into consideration that the United States [became] a great country
through immigration, through [Ellis Island in] New York. Naturally, the
circumstances change in accordance with the time, but the immigration
authorities have to be careful in order to investigate who is coming, who is
introducing [an] application to come to the United States because you saw that in
the last six months or one year, many unbelievable [things happened] that people
who have been expelled from here, they [came] with the same name or with [a]
different name. But in general terms, I am in favor [of] the United States,
through special [well-thought] methods, permitting] people [to come] who will be
important for this community. I will tell you something. If we don't have in this
country people who like to go to certain places to [harvest] tomato, and you have
to send somebody with a master's degree to cut the tomato [off the vine], the
tomato will cost fifteen dollars apiece because you don't have people who like to
do something like that. Probably, the son of the person who is now working in
the tomato area will have a master's degree fifteen, twenty years, or thirty-five
years later and will be convenient for the country this person, the son. But the
father also is good, is necessary. Who will be in the tomato area doing this work
if they don't bring the people from there to here?
P: So you would encourage what we would call guest workers, who come over here
and work and often go back to Mexico or wherever?
A: That has to be studied carefully because [it] could destroy the family solidarity of
the people and use the human being like an instrument, it's a human being for six
months and after six months he has to go back to live in [a] different way and to
destroy the organization of the family.
P: Doesn't there have to be some sort of numerical limit on the number of
immigrants allowed into the United States?
A: Could be one of the methods. My recommendation is to study [this] carefully
and hear the opinion with good knowledge of the problem and decide in
accordance with the circumstances. First of all, [they should] establish the reason
why what has been bad, [why] certain [bad] things [have happened] in
connection with immigration. If you establish that [immigration] is bad for certain
problems, then knowing any problem, you can change the thing, but if you do
not know why this immigration has been bad, you cannot solve the problem. For
that reason, I think you can have a group of persons] with good sense of
responsibility who know the problem without prejudice and say to you, we have
this situation, but because this, this, this aspects or those aspects. Then, you
can modify the situation for a better decision, for a better understanding.
P: Do you think the federal government gives enough assistance to both the state of
Florida and to Dade County to take care of immigrants? Because when they
come, there is a need for schools and housing.
A: Absolutely no[t], and I will tell you something. The people come to this area,
come to the United States and the United States has to assume the responsibility
[for] them. They are living under our shoulders. The responsibility for school,
for medicines, and for everything is [an] American problem. It's not only [a]
Miami problem or [a] Miami-Dade County problem. The government of the
United States, [on] many occasions, they devastate the people that come from
other places, and they do not help in accordance with the best tradition of this
country to these people who are living here, organizing a new life without the
support of the federal government. At the beginning of the Cuban exile, I will
say that the federal government helped, [gave] important help.
P: There was a Cuban refugee program.
A: Yes, [the] Cuban refugee program. But now they have to help us, because
otherwise we have to suffer the consequence of the generosity of the nation.
The generosity of the nation is the sacrifice of these people, of the people of this
P: How do you feel about the Cuban boaters? If the Navy stops them before they
touch American soil, they send them back. Should they be allowed to enter the
A: From the human point of view, it's the same [if] you are about ten yards from the
[sand as] if you are 100 yards or 100 kilometers from the coast. If they come
over here and are in the [sand], and the United States would recognize them with
certain protection, I don't see the reason why, if there is no special motive with
the people who are in the boat over there for 100 yards, you will send [those not
on sand] back to the tyranny of Castro to suffer all the consequences of that guy.
Again, it's something that has to be studied with all the details of the
characteristics of each case, but in general terms, if somebody could swim fast,
[he] will be protected because he is in that corner and the other will be sent to
Castro and this one will be protected in the freedom country.
P: That happened last year where some made it and others did not. Is this an
issue of politics? In other words, we can accept Cubans because it is a
dictatorship, but we can't accept Haitians because their problems are primarily
economic. Should there be a distinction between political and economic
A: The distinction is that the type of political problem of the Cuban represents a lot
of the freedom of the United States and not only the freedom of the United
States, but the hemisphere and the rest of the world. Don't forget the case of
the Cuban missile [crisis]. It's not very simple to compare one case to the other
one. For instance, [for] the idealists there [does] not exist any dictator in any
country. Our country, with certain type[s] of dictatorship that [are] bad for the
freedom system, we have to be against this thing, but [they] do not represent a
tremendous danger for the security of the United States. We have to think in
[the] case of [the] missile crisis when we were near atomic war, not because
democracy [does] not exist in Cuba, it's because [of] the type of regime.
Naturally, I like to clarify that I am against any type of government which is not a
democratic government, but I have to establish certain differences] in the risk of
the freedom of the United States, security of the United States, and the other
countries with dictatorshipss, but not representing this danger. Castro
confessed publicly, absolutely publicly, that with the exception of Mexico, he
organized all the guerillas in this hemisphere. He proclaimed that. For
instance, in Bogota in one [instance], eleven supreme judges of the supreme
court were assassinated. For those guerillas that he accepts, [although he did]
not mention the specific case, he accept that with the exception of Mexico, he
has been organizing all of those guerillas. That means that is not only the case
of the [non-existence of] democracy in Cuba, it's [the non-existence of]
democracy in Cuba and also [the existence of] terrorism, organizing with all the
power of this country.
P: The last census I saw indicated that in Dade County, Hispanics were 57 percent
of the population. Now, that has changed, as you said earlier, culturally and
socially, but to a large degree politically, because if you look at Maurice Ferre,
Suarez, Carollo, who were mayors of Miami, and in Congress, Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen [U.S. Representative from Florida, 1989-present] and Ballart, this
has changed the power structure in this county, has it not?
A: That is something that you cannot eliminate because it's a part of the political
philosophy of the United States, was not happen[ing] before because the
circumstances were different. But you cannot have citizens of the United States
that cannot vote in accordance with their point of opinion or their philosophy of
You see over here the mayor of Miami is Cuban, the mayor of the county
P: Alex Penelas [mayor, Miami-Dade County, 1996-present]?
A: Penelas. The mayor of Sweetwater is a Cuban.
A: In Hialeah [the mayor] is a Cuban. The mayor of Key Biscayne is a Cuban.
And so one of our writers over here that has been accepting that in many
occasions he writes articles with absolute respect in our newspaper even though
he [does] not agree with our political position.
P: I saw an article in your paper by Ballart.
A: Ballart, that's right.
P: Is there any conflict between the Cubans, who seem to have both political and
economic power, and other Hispanics?
A: No, in my opinion there is no conflict. Naturally, if you are from Memphis,
Tennessee and you live with 200 families in Buenos Aires, and there are 50
families in Buenos Aires from Oklahoma, probably you will have more contact
with the people from Tennessee in certain moments. In other moments, when
the American flag is involved, American ideals [are] involved, immediately, the
people from Tennessee and the people from Oklahoma are together. That, over
here, probably could be something like that. If you have many Cubans, the
many Cubans are together [among] themselves] more than [they are] with the
Nicaraguans. I am a Nicaraguan and in many occasions they consider me [to
be] a Cuban because I coincide with them in many things.
First of all, the solidarity of the Latin American people exists particularly
through the language and the concepts of life. There was a great poet and
philosopher of Spain, Miguel de Unamuno, who wrote a poem about the
language that says, I will say to you in Spanish slowly: "The blood of my spirit is
my tongue (my language), [and my country] is there [where Spanish is spoken]."
He was a Basque from a Spain, but he considered that any country [whose]
official language is Spanish and the people speak Spanish, [to be] part of his
home, part of his family. It's a very, very beautiful poem and something that you
can hear in any Latin American country. When they are conversing, a Cuban
conversing with a Venezuelan or with a Nicaraguan about certain traditions,
certain concepts of life, they use this expression because in our countries when
somebody died, years ago; now we use a black tie. They say "in our countries."
And that expression is repeated from Mexico to Argentina. That means, they
say that, the wearer, the medical doctor, not always, but in many occasions, [in
our countries]. [In our countries we celebrate Christmas in this way, in our
countries]. In other words, [there is a] concept of "our countries."
P: If you ask Cubans how they identify themselves, would they say they were
Cubans first and then Americans or Americans first and then Cubans? What
A: Depends where and how and when you ask the question. If a Cuban who is [an]
American citizen and is in London and you ask him, [what] is your citizenship?
He will immediately say I am American. If you ask over here and he knows that
you are trying to identify his personality through the language or through customs
or something like that, he [will] say to you I am a Cuban because he considers
that what you are trying to get is that type of information, knowing that technically
and juridically he is an American. Also, they are using [the term
Cuban-American [a lot]. They have an organization, they say the
Cuban-American Association of Medical Doctors. That happened not only with
Cubans. They started] with this concept and now Nicaraguan-American so on,
or American-Nicaraguan Medical Association, or Honduran-Chilean-Nicaraguan
Medical Association. But if you are [at] a cocktail party and you [would] like to
talk to somebody that you consider to be Latin, then you say, where are you
from? He knows that what you [want] to know is the origin and he says to you I
am a Cuban, I am a Nicaraguan. I will tell you something, I'm not talking about
her, but she is a Nicaraguan citizen. Her mother is 50 percent Nicaraguan and
[to] somebody liked to her origin, she would say, probably, if she knows that
person is surprised [about] the words that she use[s], not only the language,
probably, knowing that the other would like to know the origin, she will [probably]
say, I am a Nicaraguan. She is an American. It's because she could say, I am
American, giving the impression that she learned Spanish because she is the
mother of Tarzan and she has a tremendous intelligence and so on and so forth,
and because she likes rice and beans. Let me tell you something, I saw that
fifty-five years ago. Somebody from Argentina was in an airplane and an
American asked him-it was a certain hostility or something like that-an American
asked him where are you from? [What] is your nationality? Or where are you
from? From America, he says. But from what part of America? From the
South. He was thinking with bad intentions, thinking Argentina, knowing that the
other one do not recognize that all the hemisphere is America, not only the
United States. In the case of Elian Gonzalez, the tremendous great majority of
the Cubans considered immediately that they, as Cuban[s], were obligated, so to
speak, coinciding with the feeling to be in favor of the status of Elian Gonzalez in
order to [allow him to] permanent[ly] live in the United States where his mother
brought, [with] tremendous sacrifice, from Cuba to here in order to live in a free
country. They immediately thought, I am a Cuban, he is a Cuban and
everybody [felt] Cuban, despite the green passport or the love [of] the United
States and the recognition that they are a citizen of the United States. But in
this moment they consider, I am a Cuban from this aspect, for this purpose.
[End of side A2]
P: There has been some discussion of a white flight, that whites are leaving Dade
County because they are not happy with "Hispanic control" of the city and the
county. Is there any truth to that and is that worrisome at all to you?
A: It's very difficult to prove technically that that is the truth or not the truth.
Psychologically, a certain explanation of some persons, not all of them, [is that
they] say, I will go to anotherr place where the great majority are American and
maybe I am not satisfied over here because many people from other countries,
legally and democratically, have the control of the power of the city or the power
of the county. Psychologically, I don't have the testimony exactly, but that could
happen. They like to go to Broward or farther than Broward, North Carolina,
because they are thinking in those terms, but I don't have the proof. There are
others who love the diversity of the city, who love to be in a cosmopolitan city,
and maybe [there are] people who come from other counties or other states to
live here and they are 100 percent American.
P: What about the attempted law that would say English is the official language of
the state of Florida? What is your reaction to that concept?
A: If for this expression you understand that you cannot speak other languages] or
to have the opportunity of translation in legal cases, I'm against this. If you like
to say this [is the] official language and [by using] the word official, [you] do not
mean any type of obligation like that, go ahead. In Texas, both languages were
official, you remember that?
A: You were not there at that time.
P: I'm a historian so I know.
A: I was not there [either]. But you know that is not the important thing, the
important thing is that you [do not] prohibit other persons [from using] the
Spanish language because probably one American [does] not like to hear the
Spanish language. That could happen to you. Maybe you are speaking to me
in Spanish in a restaurant and somebody says] I don't like that this gentlemen is
speaking Spanish with Mr. Aguirre. He's violating your right in certain aspects.
If he only says] that, it's part of his right, but if he [does] something against you
because you are using Spanish, I am against this legal disposition.
P: Today, this is really a dual-language city, is it not? But the street signs, all of
those are in English, except Calle Ocho.
A: Calle Ocho is like Calle Roosevelt. As a matter of fact, I don't like to go into this
discussion in this moment, but I will tell you something. Grammatically, Calle
Ocho is a mistake in Spanish. In Spanish, it's Calle Octava, eighth. Ocho
exists as a number, Calle numero ocho. But when [it is] for the order, it's first,
second, third, fourth: primero, segundo, tercero, quarto, quinto. Before the
Cubans [came] it was Calle Octava, eight. But they started saying ocho. It's
like you put to a girl who is very dark, put White as a name, you have to respect
that. Maybe she's very dark, but her name is White, Blanca, Blanca Lopez,
Blanca Aguirre. Maybe her skin is black, but you decide to put it [as her name].
That is not for this because it's a tremendous problem.
P: Should Spanish be taught to immigrants first, or should English be taught to
immigrants when they come to this country?
A: It depends. If they speak Spanish, they don't need to receive a lesson in
P: I mean in order to learn English, you start with Spanish to English, as opposed to
just immersing them in English.
A: I do not know exactly which is the problem. You don't need to teach them
Spanish if they already speak Spanish.
P: But if you put them in the first grade and they speak Spanish and everything is
taught in English, they can't learn anything.
A: But in Spanish in the first grade, they speak whatever they speak in the level that
they speak in Spanish. You have, I think, I do not know the program, you have
to combine the English and the Spanish or you have to tell them using the
Spanish first what is primero and first in English. Try to combine, depending on
the method that they use. Naturally, to use the Spanish to learn, to teach the
Spanish to them is very important for the new people and very important for the
nation. I remember I heard from a person that we mentioned before here, I think
when he was mayor or just one of the distinguished leaders of the country, he
was in favor of [having] the families speak Spanish or teach Spanish in the
school to the people who are in this country, but not forgetting English, not
subordinating the English to the Spanish. I remember the argument, he said to
me, that is in favor of you talking] to the American who [was] in this position, not
in favor of my family because my family can work in both languages, [has] both
opportunities to work in Spanish or in English, but your son, your daughter [will]
only speak English and will be taking the tremendous risk that a member of my
community will be preferred by the employer] to work for them because you
have to have the interest that your daughter and your son speak both languages
in this country. Naturally if you were in Europe, perhaps it's French or
something like that.
P: Should Spanish be required in this state for school children?
A: When you start with the concept of obligation, that you have to take into
consideration many aspects of the rights of the people, the concepts of the
people. You have to work to create a certain mentality of the people. Naturally,
in this hemisphere, the Japanese people who will send people to work over here
or to sell automobiles over here, they teach them English in a very good manner
to come over here and sell all the products from Japan in the best way possible.
In the same way, the American people [have] to do with similar [cases] in order to
send somebody who will sell something in Nicaragua, to send somebody who
speaks Spanish. In this case, they can use the Cuban or the Nicaraguan who
was born here like she is an American citizen 100 percent. She can sell
something in Nicaragua or in Argentina or in Spain using both languages in favor
of the economy of the United States.
P: Why are your editorials in both English and Spanish?
A: Since the beginning, since the first edition, the paper has the editorials] in
English and in Spanish. The great majority, very great majority of the readers
[of the paper] are using the Spanish text, but we have the English text for the
schools in the United States or Americans who [want] to know the point of view of
a paper [which] is printed in Spanish under Spanish speaking direction and they
suppose that you like to know the position of [a] certain segment of this
community represented in Diario Las Americas. You read Spanish and you do
not need the translation, but others need the translation. The translation will
permit you to know our philosophical position or logical position about certain
problems. Even though you [do] not agree, you like to know the reasons. You
can see this paper in many schools, many universities. If you are Mexican or
Nicaraguan or something like that and you have a neighbor in your home that
converse[s] with you about problems, problems of Elian Gonzalez, you say, I will
give him this editorial, I agree with this editorial, and he will see the position of
Diario Las Americas, a serious newspaper of forty-nine years at the time,
forty-eight years, and this opinion is my opinion too, and you give [it] to your
P: What is the relationship between the Hispanic community and the
African-American community? I talked with Garth Reeves who is the editor and
publisher of the Miami Times and he was, in the beginning, very much in favor of
cooperating in terms of civil rights. Now he feels as though the Hispanic
community has passed the African-American community and Hispanics have
gotten economic and political and civil advantages that the African Americans still
do not have.
A: I will explain to you certain point of view about this because it's very difficult in
many cases to respond to a specific question. In Cuba, and I mention Cuba
because it's the majority, a racial problem [basically does not exist]. The blacks
in Cuba were without problems with the white people, basically. Differences]
exist always between blacks and blacks and whites and whites, including
members of the same family. There [are] two or three brothers who [do] not
agree with the other three brothers. In other words, for the Cuban, to be friends
in general terms [with] a black was something normal because they come from a
country where one of the supreme generals of the war of independence, General
Maseo was black and many, many people [were] black over there in the
independence war. Now when they come over here, you cannot obligate to a
Cuban not to take the opportunity of some work or something like that just
because [he is] a Cuban. If you have certain experience because you came
from there with experience in certain activities, in labor activities or professional
activities, [and] somebody offers] you work with better salary or something like
that, you will accept immediately. Really, they are not working against the black,
is my observation. I am not involved in the problem. They are not working
against the other opportunity [of blacks]. About civil rights, if there [are] any
problems with the civil rights, it's the responsibility of the authorities of the United
States, not of the Cubans. I think the black people, the black community has
[advanced in the field of] civil rights.
P: I think the African-American community feels like that the gains, political and
economic, that they were entitled to have been taken by Hispanics. They were
both minorities, but the Hispanic minority has done better in Miami.
A: I can say that if any circumstance exists like that, the Cuban [does] not [have] the
responsibility. They are not doing anything against the black people. If the
circumstance determines that the mayor will be a Cuban, I am sure in this city
that Helen mentioned, [that] you, a candidate [from] Cuba will not win because
discrimination, because [the] normal decision of the majority of the people of
north Miami will be Haitian American. There is a small municipality over here, El
Portal, that I am observing many black people coming there, particularly Haitian
from Haiti, and probably [it] will be very easy [to predict] that the mayor of El
Portal and the chief of police will be black. It's not because [of] discrimination
against white people, it's because numerically, and not only numerically, they
have the leader who [wants] to be a leader and has the ability to be a leader from
Haiti. I'm a Catholic. My Catholic church is near there, Saint Rose Olima.
For years, the person who played the organ was a white [person]. Now they
have a very good organist and in the chorus, many of them are [black], not
because they violate the rights of the white people over there, [those are] the
circumstances that determine that the organist is a very good organist from Haiti,
from the next municipality, which is El Portal. [It has] small and very good, very
nice community from the houses point of view and so on. The same thing
happened in general terms with the black people. I don't see that the Cubans
are against them.
P: In the election of 2000, did you endorse a presidential candidate?
P: Who and why?
A: We endorsed Mr. [George W.] Bush [U.S. President, 2001-present]. The other
question, why, [is] because we considered that was the person more identified
with the ideals and interests in the field of ideas, [but] not interest in the field of
economical benefits, with our community and his point of view [coincides] with
our point of view. We recommended] to our readers to vote for him, but that
[does] not mean that we eliminated] all the information about the others or not
use the space if they [want] to put in advertising or something like that from the
P: Do you also make recommendations about local elections for mayors, for
A: Yes, in the majority of the cases. When we have doubts about who is the best,
maybe in some occasions we only say, every citizen has to study carefully the
conditions of each candidate and vote in accordance with their opinion and don't
forget the importance of the vote, even though the law [does] not obligate. We
consider it a civic, moral obligation to vote. It's not because the law requests
this, but not to use the democratic instruments is a tremendous mistake because
you have to exercise [them]. It's the only opportunity that the tremendous
amount of persons can intervene in the public life. People with great ability as a
statesman or as politicians or as a civic organization or [because they have]
money, they have opportunities to intervene, but every citizen has the right to
intervene at least in the elections in favor of one or another person.
P: What impact or influence does your editorial position have on voters? Do you
think that you persuade them?
A: Let me tell you something. I don't like to be arrogant, but because the trajectory
of our newspaper, our readers are extremely well-identified with the moral, civic,
and philosophical position and social position of this paper. That represents an
important opportunity in the sense that the people believe in the newspaper. If
somebody [does] not have [the] opportunity to study all the cases, or has doubts,
and we recommend, due to the moral prestige that we have, we consider that
could help this candidate. We administer it in the best way possible, our moral
and civic influence [over] the people. In which way? In the way not to
recommend persons that we consider dangerous for the community or without
enough merit to be mayor or to be a representative or to be a senator.
P: What percentage of the Hispanic community would be basically Republicans?
A: I don't have the record, but if I have to say immediately, a very substantial
majority, at least of the Cuban Americans.
P: It seems to me, from what information I have received, that Puerto Ricans tend to
vote in a slight majority for Democrats. Would that be correct?
A: In general terms, that is true.
P: But the Cubans would be 80-85 percent Republican.
P: That would be about right?
A: That's right.
P: What specific stories do you have about the 2000 presidential election?
Obviously Dade County was one of the counties involved in the recount. Did
you cover that particular story very closely?
A: I did [my] best in order to inform to our readers about both aspects of the
election. Independently, our editorial position, we established big differences.
We sell as the news, what is the news. Our opinion, naturally it's our opinion,
that everybody knows that this is our opinion. We are not trying to combine the
news with the opinion and we cover all aspects, including if [there] was news
today against our position appearing in the front page or in the page in
accordance with the importance of the [story]. We cover this and we try to get
information about each case, each side, in order to give to our readers honest
information and honest orientation in accordance with our orientation, in the case
of [opinion]. In the case of the news we were objective.
P: Who do you think won the state of Florida, Bush or Al Gore [unsuccessful
Democratic presidential candidate, 2000; U.S. Vice President, 1993-2001]?
A: I have the conviction that it was Bush.
P: Looking back on forty-nine years as publisher and editor of this paper, what
would you say have been your greatest contributions to the Hispanic community?
A: The contributions of the paper to the Hispanic community. First of all, we have
been developing [their] spiritual solidarity, not against other communitiess, but in
favor of their community from the base of culture, from the base of language, and
from the aspect of traditions, always indicating that we have to serve the United
States as a nation, [which] has been receiving us with great generosity typical of
this country. This is a country of the opportunities for the fallen people in the
world. Naturally, we were interested] in cultivat[ing] in our readers and in our
community the spirit of solidarity, the interest in our culture. For that reason, you
can see over here for instance, in the theater, in two performances, 5,000
persons, 2,500 one day Saturday, and 2,500 [on] Sunday with a Spanish
operetta, which [has] the first name, proper name Sarsuela. It's a Spanish
operetta. In Spanish, or drama in Spanish and everything, people are there who
speak English too, many of them, even though we try to stimulate them to be
proud of what our culture represents and [show that it does] not mean anythingg
against the culture of the United States. Over here, the influence of this paper
has been [teaching] many people things [that] the other sister or brother
mentioned from Latin America and also stimulating the concept we have [of
being] a success and useful to this community [for] the benefit of all of us. We
know that the Americans, talking in race traditions or something like that, are not
successfull. We will be defeated too because we would live in a poor
community. We like to have the best for the Anglo-Saxons and the best for us,
and to send, compliment our values and keep our solidarity that [does] not
represent discrimination to the others. In this field, we are sure that we have
been the essential factor of the existence of the Spanish speaking language over
here and the Spanish spirit over here. Our existence has determined something
that we have been telling in many occasions, has determined that other small
newspapers] or big newspapers] [can] exist including El Nuevo Herald. El
Nuevo Herald exists because of Diario Las Americas. It's not against El Nuevo
Herald, it's not against the Miami Herald. They use the rank. But they exist
because we exist. If we do not exist, they will not create El Nuevo Herald. And
it's a logical thing.
P: On that note, we'll conclude and I want to thank you very much for your time.
[End of the interview.]