An Hispanic Voice

Lorenzo Sandavol talks to Iowans who are having an effect on Latinos in Iowa through the Hispanic media. This program aired in 2002.


Morgan: As part of our continuing series on Latinos in Iowa we've asked our colleague, Lorenzo Sandoval, to give us an idea of the way Spanish speaking immigrants are bridging the gap between their native cultures and their new lives here. He discovered that there are several leaders in the Latino community whose work in the media helps ease the transition.

Lorenzo: The State of Iowa Historical Society Museum is a place where we as Iowans can go to be reminded of our heritage. What many Iowans don’t realize, however, is that Spanish-speaking people were among the state’s first settlers.

In the 1850 U.S. Census, which was taken just after Iowa became a state, 16 residents were listed as being from Mexico, and one was from South America. In the 1990s the Hispanic population in Iowa grew by 153 percent. And today Hispanics are Iowa’s largest minority group. With the help of newspapers, radio and the Internet these new Iowans are staying connected with their roots while becoming a growing part of Iowa.

Jose Ramos is the publisher and editor of "El Latino," a weekly paper that he puts together in his trailer home where he lives with his wife and two children. Originally from El Salvador, Jose moved to Los Angeles to escape El Salvador’s civil war. A year later his aunt convinced him that there were more opportunities in Iowa.

"El Latino" is printed in Spanish and is a mix of local, national and world news, and sports that are of interest to the Latino community in Iowa. Every week Jose prints between 2-3,000 papers that are distributed across central Iowa free of charge. In the two years that Jose has published the paper it has gone through many changes, But according to Jose, change is to be expected.

In Mount Pleasant, Iowa, radio station KILJ broadcasts weekly an hour long program known as "La Voz Hispana" or the "The Hispanic Voice." Oscar Argueta takes turns hosting "La Voz Hispana" with Maria Mellado, who with Oscar started the program in June of 2000. Oscar’s programs tend to be more issue oriented while Maria’s are more of a community calendar. The radio program began after the Diversity Action Team in Mount Pleasant asked Oscar what could be done to make Hispanics feel more welcome in the community. While the Hispanic population in Mount Pleasant is relatively small, the radio program can be heard in Muscatine, Fort Madison and Burlington. The radio program has also led Oscar to start a bi-weekly newspaper known as "El Heraldo Hispano."

David Munoz is using the Internet to connect with Hispanics. His Web site allows him to reach Hispanic not only across the state but around the world. The seeds for "Latino" were planted as David tried to mobilize the Hispanic community to have a voice in the legislation that made English Iowa’s official language. David’s Web site has since grown beyond that single issue. As the voice of "Latino," David is just one voice in a chorus of voices—part of the chorus that is Iowa.

Living in Iowa

Iowa PBS, 2007


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