|Table of Contents|
FNP 64 Summary
August 22, 2002
Horacio Aguirre begins by giving his family history and background (page 1). He tells about his
decision to start a newspaper in Miami, Diario Las Americas, and the purpose it was meant to
serve  (page 1-2). He talks about the history of the paper, the intended audience, the initial
form of the newspaper, its circulation, and how news from other countries is incorporated into its
pages (page 2-3). He gives the publishing cycle for the newspaper and the current circulation
around the world (pages 3-4). He discusses the importance of advertisements as the paper's
largest source of income and as a source of information to readers (page 4-5).
He talks about his views of editorial writing and subjects he has written on in the past (pages 5-
10). He also talks about the changes he has seen in letters to the editor over the years (pages 7-8).
He states the editorial position he gave on the Elian Gonzalez case (pages 9-10). He talks about
the changing technology of newspapers since he began and his opinion of hard copy newspapers
versus Intemet newspapers (pages 10-11).
Mr. Aguirre discusses how the roles of women and minorities have changed during the forty-nine
years he's been in the publishing business (page 11-13). A discussion of his civic contributions
ensues (pages 13-14). He talks about the position of the Cuban exiles, especially the effect of the
Mariel Boat Lift [1960-1961] (pages 14-15). He talks about his feelings towards immigration and
immigration rights (pages 15-18).
He talks about the relations between Cubans and other Hispanics in the United States, and how
they identify themselves as American (pages 18-20). He talks about whether there is truth in the
white flight theory (page 20). He talks about his feelings towards making English the official
language of Florida, and the importance of speaking Spanish in the Hispanic community (pages
20-22). He then talks about relationships between the African American community and the
Hispanic community (pages 23-24).
Mr. Aguirre states the importance of editorial recommendations during elections, both local and
national, and shares his endorsement of President George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential
election (pages 24-25). He shares some specific opinions he gave during the election debate, and
the political views of the Hispanic community as a whole (pages 25-26).
Finally, Mr. Aguirre shares the main contributions that Diario Las Americas has made in the
Hispanic community since he began publishing the paper forty-nine years ago (pages 26-27)
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 1
Horacio Aguirre was interviewed by Julian M. Pleasants In Miami, Florida on August 22,
P: Why did you decide to start a newspaper in Miami?
A: ... Miami,... 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... [was]
almost coming immediately, and if we print the newspaper in Spanish in Miami,
we can use the airlines... 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.... Also the cities in this
hemisphere where they would 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 world....
P: Is El Nuevo Herald your main competitor for circulation or is it a different kind of
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 2
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 a very high quality. That means
[they] could speak perfect English... but they needed] to view more
information about the Latin American countries or about the Latin culture
that we offer....
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 or another
reason were not well educated, and 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.
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 3
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 to our readers....
But always we 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
P: I noticed that in today's paper you had news items from Panama and Honduras
and Nicaragua. I also 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.
P: But by and large you put your paper to bed in the early afternoon?
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...
and immediately to the stands and drug stores, and immediately to home
delivery.... If you are a subscriber, you'll receive the paper in your home always
about 7:00 p.m....
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?
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 4
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.... But the majority of
our readers are in the United States and naturally, in the south part of Florida....
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 aspirations. 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....
P: What do you chose to write about in your editorials?
A: Many topics. For instance, the... visit of the Pope in Toronto or the visit of the
Pope in [Poland], his home country, or it 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 paper.
P: Did you write an editorial about the Pope's John Paul's visit to Cuba?
A: ...I said that he represents] a lot for humanity, not only for the Catholic people,
for humanity. He is [an] exceptional person.... We consider that he could
influence, not in 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
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 5
homilies.... We were not against his trip, we did not criticize him for [this]. I
criticized] Castro when Castro almost insult[ed] him in the first speech....
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: 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.
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 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]....
P: Would you 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
properly 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....
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 6
In connection with the embargo, I am in favor of the embargo and I know that...
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,
on certain occasions, people who write articles... with a high sense of
responsibility that [do] not necessarily coincide with the editorial position of the
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 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....
For instance, if you have the right of a boy,... 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... but they are using this boy to be open the doors to the prostitutes in
that house and we, in the name of morality, in the name of the mother who
died,... we consider that is improper and we ask to eliminate the right of this
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 7
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.... 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....
That is a matter of the constitution. When they put him in the hands of Fidel
Castro, [they] are obligating to him to become a communist....
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.... 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... that the paper, the newsprint... has a soul....
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: ...You remember when radio startedd. Many people think when the radio
started] with program of news, that [meant] that [it] probably [would] reduce or
eliminate the newspaper.... 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 program.
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 8
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 that depth and analysis
on television. Do you feel like that's one of the purposes of your paper?
A: I agree with it. In 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]
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 them 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, a
few years they have 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.... I saw somebody open the door, closing the door, and
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 9
reading something... I saw what he was reading in Spanish, a great thinker,
Ortega y Gasset. [Spanish philosopher, author of Revolt of the Masses]...
Normally, the person who is reading Ortega y Gasset will not be working in [an
elevator], will not be reading Emerson too.... 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 [incident],
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 they continued their studies over
here.... Many people think because Castro sent... people that he took from the
jail and sent over here in order to discredit the community, despite that, they are
very, very nice persons.... In my opinion... they were persons that... 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: A very, very small proportion.... I am one of the persons that knows these
exiles.... Because I am not a member of the exile, I have more opportunities to identify
them. The great majority of them are nice persons... decent persons, and good
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 10
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.... The majority, 98 percent were
nice persons. That does not mean that they were the best doctors, but decent
P: What is your attitude toward the United States government's position on
immigration into the United States?
1: 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 the 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 applications to come to the United States.... 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.... If
we don't have in this country people who like to go to certain places to [harvest]
tomatoes, 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.... Who will be in the tomato areas doing this work if they
don't bring the people from there to here?
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 11
P: So you would encourage what we would call guest workers, in a way, 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....
P: Does your newspaper 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].... The people come to this area, come to the United States and the
United States has to assume the responsibility [for] them.... The responsibility for
schools, 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... devastates 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 on
the Cuban exile, I will say that the federal government helped, [gave] important help....
P: Are there any political or economic conflicts between the Cubans, who seem to have both
political and economic power, and other Hispanics?
A: No, in my opinion there is no conflict.... If you have many Cubans, the many Cubans are
together between 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
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 12
philosopher of Spain, Miguel de Unamuno, who wrote a poem about the language that
says: "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....
In the case of Elian Gonzalez, the... great majority of the Cubans considered immediately
that they, as Cuban[s], were obligated, so to speak, [to] coincide with the feeling to be in
favor of the status of Elian Gonzalez in order to [allow him to] permanently] live in the
United States where his mother brought [him], [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 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....
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... 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 by Diario Las Americas.... The translation will
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 13
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....
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... 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... from the other party.
P: Do you also make recommendations about local elections for mayors, for judges?
A: Yes, in the majority of the cases. When we have doubts about who is the best..., maybe
on 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 [you to vote]. 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]....
P: What impact or influence do your editorial positions have on voters? Do you think
that you persuade them?
A: ... I don't like to be arrogant, but... our readers are extremely well-identified with the
moral, civic, and philosophical position and social position of this paper. That represents
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 14
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 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: 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: ... 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.
FNP- 64 Aguirre, page 15
Naturally, we were interested] in cultivat[ing] in our readers and in our community the
spirit of solidarity, the interest in our culture....
End of interview
Horacio Aguirre was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Nicaraguan parents and holds
law and political science degrees from the University of Panama. He began his career
in journalism as an editorial writer for El Panama America in 1948, then became a
founding editor and editorial writer for Diario Las Americas in 1953. In the course of his
career he has held various leadership positions in the Inter-American Press
Association, including a term as president from 1983-1984. He has served on the
executive committee of the World Press Freedom Committee, and is a member of the
Association of Cuban Journalists in Exile and the World Association of Newspapers. He
is also a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the International
Press Institute. Aguirre is active in the community of Miami, serving as the vice-
president of the board of directors of the Florida Grand Opera and as a member of the
board of trustees of the Miami Art Museum. He was also named an honorary president
of the Latin Chamber of Commerce. He has received several honorary degrees and
awards, including honorary doctoral degrees from St. Thomas University (1976) and
Barry University (1997) in Miami, the Good News Award from the Miami International
Press Club (1999) and the Great Floridian Award (2001).
Horacio Aguirre begins by describing the beginnings of Diarios Las Americas, the
current competition with other Spanish-language newspapers and the target audience
of the newspaper. He discusses various topics covered in editorials, including Fidel
Castro and Elian Gonzalez and the 2000 Presidential election. He also gives his
impression of the future of newspapers. He talks at length about the Hispanic
community in Miami and the Mariel Boat Lift incident and analyzes the United States
government's position on immigration. He also describes the relationship between
various Hispanic groups living in Miami. He tells why his editorials are printed in both
English and Spanish. He describes his paper's endorsement of candidates and the
impact endorsements have on voters. He concludes the interview with the contributions
of Diarios Las Americas to the Hispanic community.