News Column

Text of Jesus Chavarria's 25th Anniversary Speech

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And that, my friends, is why affirmative action was, and remains, so important to our social advancement. Minority affirmative action, pure and simple, is about participation in markets of opportunity that many other Americans have been participating in for a long time. It is about access to political and federal decision-making. Fortune 500 companies, through their powerful lobbying, participate in federal affirmative action programs. Hispanic Business may have sought objectivity about many things, but it has never been objective about affirmative action. We have been advocates, and we have the historical knowledge to support that position. Whether the subject was lending, employment, college admissions, procurement opportunities, or fair-share of markets, Hispanic Business unequivocably has advocated for equal opportunity -- which, after all, was one of the great founding principles of American democracy as stated in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution is another story.

And along the way, through all of these past 25 years, I have met many interesting and knowledgeable individuals. On my very first trip to key Hispanic markets, even before the appearance of the magazine's first issue, I met individuals like Jose Garrigo of Miami, who in turn referred me to Leslie Pantin and Teresa Zubizarreta. Later, again through Jose Garrigo, I met Antonio Villamil, who was then with Southeast Bank. Leslie was a great believer in Hispanic Business, as was Jose Garrigo. Leslie was a key referrer to leading Cuban-American business leaders in Miami. Through him, I met Carlos Arboleya of Barnett Bank, who was a walking encyclopedia of Cuban business. Carlos told me about Antonio (Tony) Navarro of the W.R. Grace Company, who at fabulous lunches in New York City, shared with me his recollections of the fall of the Batista regime. From Tony, I heard direct testimony of the transition from the Batista dictatorship to the revolutionary regime of Fidel Castro. The turbulent times are recounted in his excellent book, Tocayo, which was his code name in the Cuban underground. My own interest was in the diaspora, and in the Cuban families who explained the phenomenon that later became known as the Miami Cuban Miracle.

In those early days -- when people still picked up their phones -- I used to direct-dial, introduce myself, and ask for a meeting. That was how I met Eduardo Caballero of Caballero Spanish Media when his offices were on 42nd Street close to Grand Central Station. That's how I met Alicia and Rafael Conill. The first time I met Alicia, I thought she was a movie star; strikingly beautiful and an incredible communicator. That was in the mid-'80s, or so. Eduardo Caballero was one of my key sources on learning about the beginnings of the U.S. Hispanic media and advertising markets. I followed him from his offices on 42nd Street, to the office on Madison Avenue, to the office on 53rd just off Madison. Generally, I would see him in the late afternoon. Raquel, his lovely wife, would graciously come out to greet me and bring me to Eduardo's office. Our discussions would easily go several hours, or so it seems now. Eduardo had an intellectual passion for wanting to know the origins of things, and why things happened as they did. He is one of the key founders of the U.S. Hispanic media markets, and his firm has channelled millions and millions of national advertising dollars into the growth and development of Spanish radio throughout the U.S.

I did not meet Rene Anselmo, the central figure and prime mover of U.S. Hispanic media in the past quarter century, until the fall of SIN (Spanish International Network), and the sale of SICC (Spanish International Communications Corporation). SIN was the national TV network (now Univision), and SICC owned the TV stations. In a very long interview at his elegant old-world villa home in Greenwich, as well as in several follow-up telephone calls, he shared with me the start-up of Spanish television in the U.S., its leading players, and its rise. Particularly important were his recollections of the Azcarragas of Televisa fame, and his stories about how the various stations in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Miami, Phoenix, and New York were acquired.

Congressman Bobby Garcia of the Bronx provided a key link to the New York world of business, as did Frank Flores of Marsden Graphics. Congressman Garcia was, and remains, a fine orator who could sway crowds on the East as well as West coasts. He provided an introduction to Stan Scott, vice president of corporate affairs at Philip Morris (now Altria), who became a mentor of Hispanic Business and who engineered the appearance of the first major brands to advertise in the magazine. We were on our way.

Eli Torre and Joseph Sanchez of General Motors, are two major figures in the history of the magazine. Of Spanish descent and from New York, Eli (Elias) Torre, a key marketing executive at Cadillac who I met on a task force at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recognized the emerging importance of affluent Hispanic consumers, and became an advocate of Hispanic Business at Cadillac and Chevrolet. Joseph Sanchez, also of New York and who earned his senior executive stripes at GM Latin America, was brought back to the U.S. to head the Oldsmobile division. Joseph Sanchez, it was rumored, was on his way to the seventh floor at the old GM building on Grand Avenue. Eli and Joseph became patrons of Hispanic Business, and opened many doors for the magazine at General Motors.

My friends, Hispanic Business has been fortunate indeed, and I have been lucky to have been able to report on the U.S. Hispanic story of the past quarter century; a 25-year saga that will be reflected in history as a historic social turnaround of our markets and communities in the United States. We can say with great confidence that during the past 25 years we have laid a strong social foundation upon which to continue to build -- in entrepreneurship, education, managerial and executive occupations, employment, income, purchasing power, and the growth of capital assets.

How we will perform as national leaders in education, entrepreneurship, politics, the arts and athletics, as well as citizens, is a story that we relish continuing to report. increasingly complements our means of distributing content, as well as and, and in the years to come our audience reach will be in the millions. But that is a story for another time.

Source: Hispanic Business, Inc.

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