January 7, 2005

A look back at the year 2004, a year unlike any other!

By Daniel Munoz

“How the San Diego Community Got Lost While Mapping Chicano Art” By David Avalos.
A collage by David Avalos. Story published July 30.

At La Prensa San Diego we have been publishing for 29 years now and through all those years none felt quiet like this year. In 2004 terms such as divisive, polarizing and political quagmire became a part of our everyday language. And that did not include the conversation about the war in Iraq, from which the only news we talked about was bad news.

For the Hispanic community this year was a year of self realization, of sorts. For years we have been prepping for the year of the decade, always awaiting its arrival, and to be left wanting. In a sense it did arrive in 2004, albeit not in the form and fashion anticipated.

There were changes for the Hispanic community, nationally and locally, some of which were significant, others were subtle yet profound.

We will take a look back at a sampling of the stories that we highlighted in the pages of La Prensa San Diego throughout the year and the changes within the Hispanic community, as it continues to adapt and grow.

January 2004 – Politics Off and Running

The year 2004 was a Presidential election year and January found us already in full campaign mode. Coupled with the Presidential election, California’s Primary was to be held in March which meant that almost all state and local campaigns were in full swing. The early Primary would create a long and excruciating political year, that only a political junkie or pollster could love.

The year started out with President George W. Bush laying out his Immigration Policy, proposing to give legal status to millions of illegal workers, at the same time portraying the Republican Party as a compassionate conservative Party and of course appealing to the Hispanic voter. What Bush proposed was an immigration policy that was sorely lacking in details. As it turned out this policy proposal floundered, the conservatives, of course, considered it to lenient and the Democrats found it lacking, so it went no-where.

The first of the year also marked the first significant political movement as the politicians started to jockey for position with the March Primaries rapidly approaching. California Primary Elections had historically been held the first week of June, until the year 2000. Former California Governor Pete Wilson decided that California needed a greater voice in the presidential elections and moved the Primary Elections to March. For better or worse, this made local political campaigns a year long, and in some cases much longer.

Several campaigns have been in full effect since October 2003 when candidates could officially file their intent to run. Peter Q. Davis had been running to become mayor of San Diego since the summer of 2003. Vince Hall and Lori Saldana have also been campaigning for the 76th Assembly District since the summer, and all three candidates for San Diego City Attorney’s office had been campaign for several months. So, if the campaign season seemed interminable, that’s because it was.

Interesting, this year a large number of seats went uncontested. In District 2 and 3 for County of San Diego Board of Supervisors, the incumbents got an automatic pass to another term. The same could be said for City of San Diego Council District 5, City of Chula Vista Council seat 3, and County Board of Education 2nd and 4th District, all of which went unopposed. This was to only name a few, and many others faced only token opposition.

In Chula Vista, city council seat #3, there was no shortage of candidates, five residents filed for the seat. They were, Rudy Ramirez, Dan Hom, Robert Solomon, Steve Castaneda, and John L. Nezozzi.

One of the key races for the year was, who was going to serve on the San Diego City School Board. Three seats were open which meant the complexion of the board was going to dramatically change no matter who got elected. The predominately Hispanic District D had four Hispanics file for the seat. Unfortunately two of the candidates, Lupe Corona and Pilar Arballo, failed to qualify due to a lack of signatures, which lead to them running as write-in candidates. This was unfortunate in that they would have provided stark contrast to the two candidates who did qualify.

In the 76th Assembly race six candidates filed their papers. Among them was a little known Democrat Lori Saldaña.

In 2004 Hispanic print media became a hot property. New Hispanic newspapers and media groups started up this year. The Los Angeles based La Opinión’s and their owners, the Lozano Family and CPK Media announced they were leaving their partnership with the Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune Publishing Company and combining forces with El Diario/La Prensa to form the first ever national Spanish-language newspaper company in the United States, Impremedia LLC. Looking to make inroads into La Opinión’s stranglehold on the LA market the Tribune Publishing Company, introduced their publication Hoy to the Los Angeles markets. May the Spanish-language newspaper wars begin!

This was the backdrop by which the New Year started out.

“Piñata: Party’s Game Is Ancient History,” by Katia Lopez-Hodoyan.
Published February 6.

February – More to Life Than Politics

We could continue along the same lines as in January and keep up the talk about politics, but there were other events and happenings going on in our life and we talked about and covered those events with equal enthusiasm. There is more to life then just politics.

Unfortunately one of the more compelling stories of the year was the story of Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri, “There Was Never No Tomorrow, Nuyorican Pedro Pietri In His Own Words” by Raymond Beltran. For most of us Pedro Pietri was an unknown, but amongst his peers he was an icon. Living in Tijuana, trying to beat back the ravages of a stomach tumor, Pietri granted Beltran a bedside interview. Over the internet this story was widely read and reprinted across the nation. This was the last interview that Pietri would ever conduct, he died shortly thereafter.

Interestingly, a unique story in February was the massive protest at the border concerning the triple fence that was on its way to being completed, as it extended into the ocean. Hispanics for years had been protesting the triple fence in regards to the political and human impact that the fence presented. Now other groups beyond the Hispanic community raised their voices joining in the protest, but it had nothing to do with the Hispanic issues. Instead the protest was over the ecological/environmental impact the fence would have extending into the ocean! We assumed the rest of the 200 mile fence was okay but that last 200 feet was another issue.

Katia Lopez-Hodoyan brought to us a fun and interesting story on the history of the Piñta, “Piñata: Party’s Game Is Ancient History.” At the end of the year Ms Lopez was to be recognized by the San Diego Press Club for this story.

We got our first clue that the City of San Diego was in financial crises when the SD Police, for the first time in history, charged the Chicano Park Steering Committee $6000 to work the 34th Annual Chicano Park Day. Little did we know that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Well we put it off as long as we could, but we have to get back to the year long story of politics. An interesting theme developing in many of the campaigns was how anti-Hispanic or strong on immigration can the candidates be. It got so bad that Republicans were attacking Republicans for not being strong enough on immigration. Patrick Oso, Jr., keeps us up-to-date on this with “Is this another anti-Latino election year – or just an immigration issue?”

And of course on the editorial pages we discussed and analyzed the propositions and the candidates giving our position and recommendations for each and just about every race. Early on we endorsed the candidacy of Mike Aguirre, bucking the majority trend at the time. And we endorsed Lori Saldaña for the 76th Assembly race. As it turned out both races were significant.

We ended the month with sad news as we reported on the sudden death of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Frank del Olmo, editor with the Los Angeles Times. Del Olmo was a shinning light for the Hispanic community and Hispanic journalist in particular.

March – One Year Anniversary of the War on Iraq

March marked the one year anniversary of America’s assault on Iraq. This provided the community, yet, another opportunity to debate the merits of the war and the impact on the community and America in general. This is a debate that would carry on through to the Presidential election.

We kicked off the month of March with a protest “Students Walk-Out for Books Not Bombs” by Ray Beltrán. Students from community colleges and high schools across San Diego County participated in the second annual National Day of Campus Walk-Out in opposition to the war in Iraq and in support of more school funding. “Books Not Bombs!” was the peace cry from San Diego City College through Downtown San Diego. The end of the month also featured a war protest as thousands marched in Balboa Park protesting the war.

In between the war protest there were some very important events taking place within the Hispanic community, March was an important month.

We can start with Lori Saldaña pulling off an election shocker, and we mean shocker, by winning the Democratic Primary for the 76th Assembly District. While the two heavy weights in the race went toe-to-toe tearing down each other, Saldaña waged a low key, grassroots effort which resonated with the voters, they were fed-up with dirty politics. With Saldaña’s victory it pretty much assured her a victory in the General with this predominately leaning Democratic district.

Not as big a shocker, but impressive nonetheless by margin of victory was Mike Aguirre leading all candidates for District Attorney. Aguirre overwhelmed the other two candidates in the race despite the establishment preferring anyone but Aguirre. Not achieving 50% plus one, Aguirre now had to face Leslie Devaney in the General. Out of the five candidates running for city council in Chula Vista, Dan Hom and Steve Castenada emerged as the top two candidates to meet in the General. Castenada was the decided underdog in this race.

The movie “Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson was all the rage, everybody seemed to have an opinion on this film. Of course this meant that La Prensa had to add its two cents worth to the discussion and we did with a commentary by Joe Ortiz entitled, “The Passion of Christ is not about Anti-Semitism, it’s about love!” Through our web site this story touched a nerve with our world wide readers and they responded in mass.

Another hot topic was an essay by Samuel P. Huntington “The Hispanic Challenge” in which he asked the question: Is America losing its traditional values and character in the face of a tidal wave of Latino immigrants? He went on to say that “Latin American immigrants are so numerous, and insistent on speaking Spanish that they threaten to divide the United States into two peoples.” Normally this type of essay would have been brushed off as ranting of a jingoist, but because Huntington is a Harvard scholar who has the ear of many of the think tanks and policy makers there was a need to respond to such outlandish criticism, which the Hispanic community did.

In Spain, before their presidential elections, a terrorist group blew up a loaded passenger train in Madrid. The intent was to sway the election. For those who backed the war on terror in Iraq this helped to clarify America’s role and support for the war.

It was called the JC Penny incident, where an innocent family was detained by the National City Police who then called the Border Patrol which then deported some of the family members. This event took place in November 2003. Through public outrage and disgust National City, City Council initiated an investigation. Four months later the officer involved was absolved of by the NC Police Department which conducted a closed door, internal investigation. The Hispanic community was outraged, primarily because they were promised an open investigation. Public meetings were held and city officials offered excuses but in the long run nothing was resolved.

For a fleeting moment the name of Bill Richardson Lopez, New Mexico governor, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, former congressman and former Secretary of Energy, was bantered about as a possible VP nomination for John Kerry.

The article was entitled, “There is Hope for Hispanic Women When It Comes to Domestic Violence” by Katia Lopez-Hodoyan, it was a story about a young lady who volunteered her time at the court house helping Latinas who experienced domestic violence. This article by Lopez-Hodoyan would go to be recognized with a First Place award from the San Diego Press Club.

Outside of La Prensa staff and close friends this is probably not very big news, but for La Prensa it was monumental. After 28 years at the same location we moved our offices out of downtown San Diego to National City. For La Prensa it was a good move, more central, nicer, more modern offices and best of all we can now avoid the traffic mess we used to face every morning and late afternoon, hallelujah!

“Students Walk-Out for Books Not Bombs,” by Raymond R. Beltrán. Students from community colleges and high schools across San Diego County participated in the second annual National Day of Campus Walk-Out yesterday, Thursday, March 4, in opposition to the war in Iraq and in support of more school funding. “Books Not Bombs!” was the peace cry from San Diego City College through Downtown San Diego as approximately thirty students of all ages held signs, beat drums and implored city dwellers to recognize the state of education during a time of mass budget cuts and violence abroad. Published March 5.

April – We Focused On Community

As we looked back over the month the theme for this month was clearly community. We opened the month with a conference at UCSD which was covered by Perlita Dicochea. The title of her story was “AUSD Holds 15th Annual Social Issues Conference Under Theme ‘Freedom in America? War, Peace, and Justice,’” hosted by the University of San Diego’s Social Issues Committee. Several hundred students, faculty and staff, and local community members were in attendance. While the conference theme was inspired by 9/11, lectures and workshops addressed a trajectory of social issues including the struggle for a living wage, the challenges faced by American Indian studies, war and disarmament, and the quality of life on the U.S.-Mexican Border.

In April we started a new biweekly column, written by Geneva Gamez, entitled “La Esquina arte de comunidad,” which focused on the art community within San Diego’s Hispanic communities. Our first column was entitled, “Camilo Ontiveros Paints Life En Cuadros.”

We also talked about the first ever Barrio Bookfest. The Red CalacArts Collective (RCAC) organized the event, held at Memorial Academy in Barrio Logan, to produce relevant literature about and for the Chicano community.

Then there was the Cesar Chavez Parade that was in honor of Chavez, but according to reporter Ray Beltran, the organizers had sold out the parade to corporate America and the participants had little to do with or about Cesar Chavez. The truth in this statement was verified by the fact hardly anyone from the Chicano or Hispanic communities, or for that matter any other community, showed up to observe this parade.

We also celebrated Chicano Park Day which did reflect the Chicano/Hispano community with community sponsors, Chicano Park Day was sponsored by the Chicano Park Steering Committee, the Brown Berets de Aztlán, Amigos Car Club, Unión del Barrio, Keep On Crossin’, El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán Central de San Diego and the Save Our Centro Coalition. The highlight of this day was the unveiling of the eight foot statue of Mexican hero Emiliano Zapata.

“Making Way for the Gateway of the Children” was a story about the students of King/Chavez Academy of Excellence and muralist Mario Torero who worked to beautify Kearney Avenue and Cesar Chavez Parkway through murals and by planting gardens.

It was called the DREAM Act an initiative introduced to Congress in 2000, the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act would have granted undocumented students living in the U.S. the ability to attend college and receive financial aid. This Act was much debated and talked about as undocumented children who had lived, grown up, and gone to the schools in America, were being denied the opportunity to go to college in the States. Despite widespread support the DREAM Act got shelved by the Republican Party.

April provided us a bit of a lull from politics. It was that inbetween time, inbetween the Primaries and the time to gear up and start the fulltime campaigning heading up to the General. April was also the time for potential candidates to file their papers to run for local races and one of the early declared candidates was Jill Galvez who filed for the Chula Vista Elementary School Board.

May – If it is May, it is Cinco de Mayo

The 5th of May means we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo a celebration of Mexican honor.

In May we saw the end of a long standing tradition in National City. On May 1st, after 57 years the Maytime Band Review and Parade marched off into the sunset. It seems that no new blood was becoming a part of the committee that put on this affair and as such there was no one to carry on the tradition. It will be missed.

Barrio Logan is changing and as such redevelopment plans were being drawn up and the future of this Mexican American community was up in the air. “Barrio Logan ‘Revision’ Maps to Be Unveiled Next Week” by Raymond R. Beltrán detailed the planning process, which took into consideration the communities concerns and questions. What came back from the city after this meeting shocked the residents. What they saw was from the redevelopment maps presented was a mass of apartments and condominiums which priced the income residents out of Barrio Logan. It is an ongoing process and it doesn’t look good for those residents.

Politically the presidential candidates and their respective parties started the jockeying and catering of the Hispanic vote. This would go back and forth until election day. Unfortunately for the Democrats their message never did resonate with the Hispanic voter.

A national story in May was the case of Camilo Mejia who was sentenced to prison for his refusal to return to the war in Iraq. Mejia filed for discharge as a conscientious objector. Camilo declared as he turned himself in, “By putting my weapon down I chose to reassert myself as a human being,” Camilo maintained that stance of courageous resistance throughout his court martial trial.

June – Two stories dominated the month

The month of June started out with us recognizing the 60th anniversary and heroes of D-Day. We published a story of National City resident Lauro Vega who recounted his story of D-Day. We also recognized the heroics of World War II Veteran John Martinez who received the Purple Heart 59 years after a paralyzing injury, his plane crashed near Rheims, France. Martinez received his Purple Heart during the unveiling ceremony of the World War II Memorial in Washington.

The dominate story of the month, though, was the passing of former President Ronald Reagan. In the pages of La Prensa, for a couple of weeks, we discussed his legacy and impact on the Hispanic community.

The second story of importance was the Border Patrol sweeps taking place in Southern California and within San Diego. No reasons were given for the sweeps other than routine procedure. The sweeps caused fear and anguish within the Hispanic communities. Local groups got together and demanded the end to the sweeps. As quickly as they started the Border Patrol ceased the sweeps.

“Revitalizing Health Care in Chula Vista” an analysis by Carla Stayboldt, MD and James Santiago Grisolía, MD, described the need and rational for Scripps Memorial and Scripps Mercy to combine their resources for the betterment of health services in the South Bay communities.

July – a time to kick back and enjoy the sun, maybe not

Democratic and Republican conventions were just around the corner and the dirty politics were already in full swing, who can forget VP Dick Cheney cussing out a Democrate on the House floor? We got to read the 9/11 reports and the debunking of the reasons by which President Bush pushed the button to go to war. And then there was Martha Stewart being sentenced to jail, gas prices were going through the roof, and steroid and drug use stories peppered our sports pages. Nope this was not going to be a fun summer.

The 4th of July is always a special day, to be enjoyed by all. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stubs his toe when he suggest, in order for the drivers license bill for immigrants to get by his desk, that those licenses carry a special mark or identification. The Hispanic community rejected this idea outright and was joined by the Jewish community which rose up in anger over this proposal.

National City hires a new Police Chief, Dr. Adolfo Gonzales. Gonzales a long time South Bay resident takes the job with a clear understanding of the problems that this police department faces.

Perlita Dicochea brought us the inspirational story, “Friends of Scott a Service to Latina Families of the Ronald McDonald House” Friends of Scott, a non-profit founded by Carmen Delgadillo who began the organization in the name of her son, Scott, who died of leukemia three years earlier. It is a program of volunteers and tries to meet the needs of Hispanic families at the McDonald House as they cope with their cancer treatments.

The AgJOBS Bill is killed by the Bush administration. After three years of arm-twisting a bill was in front of Congress that would have legalized half a million agricultural workers living without visas in the United States. But the administration, despite a proclaimed interest in Latino votes, killed its own bill by attaching a rider restricting class action lawsuits which was rejected by the Democrats. After his election in November Bush once again made immigration a top priority. Same old song, just a different day.

Katia Lopez-Hodoyan wrote about the Hispanic American Airborne Association “Hispanic Veterans Still Serving, Giving Final Respect to Fellow Veterans.” The story featured Lalo Rodriguez. She describes how this organization gave the ultimate respect to fallen Hispanic veterans. “Lalo Rodriguez stands proud in his battle field uniform, polished black shoes and airborne barrette. His fingers hold a tight grip on a folded U.S flag moments before he offers it to the family of a fallen veteran he never knew. The latter makes no difference though. If the deceased fought and served during his lifetime, in some sense they did know each other as only fellow veterans can. This undisputable bond shared among veterans motivated Rodriguez to form the Hispanic American Airborne Association in 1991 so that any veteran in the San Diego area could have a proper and traditional military burial at the time of their passing. For 13 years, members of the HAAA have volunteered their time and devotion into organizing burials that pay their respects to veterans from any war, be it World War II, Vietnam or Korea. Even though over a decade filled with services have come and gone, members acknowledge that every ceremony is unique, touching and special in its own way. Just like the life of the recognized veteran.”

The story of the month, hands down, was “How the San Diego Community Got Lost While Mapping Chicano Art.” Author of this commentary was artist David Avalos who had tired of the protracted fight between the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the Save Our Centro Coalition who had been boycotting the Centro since 2000 in protest to the management and direction of this art center. There was frustration within the Hispanic over this protracted fight and Avalos spoke for many when he called for willingness to work together to resolve the differences.

Avalos article was the first of several articles that was to follow as some of the main players in this drama responded with their version or perspective of what was transpring.

August – Its Politics fulltime, all the time

In June the Democratic Party held their nominating convention. Of course the nomination was a forgone conclusion, so it was pretty much a rah, rah session, and of course the Hispanic community was relegated to the cheering section. No significant role for any Hispanic politican, and just think a couple of months ago Bill Richardson Lopez on the short list for the VP selection. Not even any significant television time for any Hispanic and there was no conversation or details on any relevant Hispanic issue. And the Democrats wonder why their Hispanic voter base is eroding.

Mike Aguirre is running for San Diego City Attorney and Perlita Dicochea wrote a profile on the man, Aguirre, bring into focus who he is.

Again the Democrats continued the talk, about inclusion, the youth vote, and Hispanics as the swing vote.

Local races continue to heat up as Eduardo Valerio announced his candidacy for Sweet-water High School Board.

Over 300 farmworkers marched three miles to try and put pressure on their Congressmen to pass two bills. One was the AgJOBs bill the other was the DREAM Act, two bills that are still languishing.

“Proxy Soldiers in Bush’s War, Mexico Fiercely Opposes the Iraq War, But Mexicans Are Dying There Every Week” by By John Ross told the story of Mexicans fighting and dying in the war on Iraq. This story was about Juan Lopez Rangel who was killed on June 21st. His grieving parents, who lived in a small Georgia town, were determined to bury the proud marine in his hometown of San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato Mexico.

Juan’s funeral set for Mexico over the July 4th weekend. After negotiations with Mexican authorities over protocols, it was agreed that a four member U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard carrying ceremonial weapons could accompany the interment—a 21-gun salute with M-16s was nixed by the Mexican military. Against this backdrop it highlighted the different perspectives on the Iraq between the U.S. and Mexico and the very real toll on Mexican families.

Proxy Soldiers in Bush’s War, Mexico Fiercely Opposes the Iraq War,
But Mexicans Are Dying There Every Week,
by John Ross. Published August 27.

September – The Republican Convention, Hispanic Heritage, Education, and the Latin Grammys

The month of September we got to hear the Republicans’ version of the world and the justification for the continuing the war on Iraq. Yes the Repubican convention was the talk of the town, but before we got into that, we deviated with Jose Daniel Bort’s coveriage of the Latin Grammys in LA. This of course afforded us the opportunity to publish a full spread of photos of Hispanic stars.

Secretary of Foreigh Affairs of Mexico, Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista published a perspective on the US/Mexican border entitled “A border in unencumbered evolution.” It was a look at the 2,000 mile border that divides Mexico and the United States encourages an objective evaluation of the profound transformations it has had in the past few years. On the third anniversary of 9/11 the scenario at the border is much different than the one predicted by the pessimists and reflects, instead, a healthier picture that has allowed the strengthening of binational bonds and, above all, the institutional setting that rules them.

We celebrated the 16th of September, Mexican Independence Day which also serves as the kick-off for Hispanic Heritage Month where we celebrate and recognize Hispanic contributions to the United States.

“Independence revives in Tijuana” was a story by Luis Alonso Perez who describe for us the Tijuana independence day celebration. “Celebrating is in our culture, it’s in our blood…We don’t only remember our independence, we revive it. Every year, the evening of September 15th, just like Miguel Hidalgo did, the president goes out on the balcony of El Zocalo, rings the bell and yells: ‘Long live Miguel Hidalgo, Long live the independence, Long live Mexico’ He yells for war, rebellion and courage, a tradition that has evolved into a yell of joy and pride.”

Mexican women mysteriuousl dying in Juarez over the past ten years and so far all the investigation up to this time have not reveled any clues or answers. Women of the border are scared and furious. Luis Alonso Perez brought us the story of one woman’s effort to bring about change in this regard. The story was entitled “Women react with fury.” The story started out like this: “A bus driver on his morning ride found the body of a young women, about 24 years old, who apparently had been raped and murdered. This happened a few weeks ago near Cristo Negro hill, the same place where six more women have been found dead throughout last year. Dead bodies of working class women have been turning up around Ciudad Juarez for more than ten years now. It’s believed that at least once a week a girl disappears and no one hears about her anymore. This situation has outraged people all around the world, including Sandra Bello, a 24-year-old photographer from Tijuana, who turned that rage into action. She decided to embark on a documentary photography project called “Reacciona Mujer con Furia” (Women react with fury) that records people’s reactions towards the murders in Juarez.”

Education is always an important topic within the pages of La Prensa, and we continued this tradition with our story, “Ball Foundation changing the face of Education in Chula Vista?” by J.D. Hawk. The Chula Vista Elementary School District is changing the way teachers teach and children learn, which in of itself is not a bad thing. The question raised in this story was why was it being done with little public discussion or debate? In particular when this change is being directed a minority students.

The Chula Vista city council race is heating up between Dan Hom and Steve Castenada. Castenada releases information about Hom’s business practices, which changes the complexion of the race. Hom the frontrunner is now in for a dog fight.

October – A month before the General Elections

It is now do or die time for all candidates running for office. The mayor’s race in San Diego is thrown for loop when Donna Frye announces she is running as a write in candidate. Leslie Devaney tries to dish out dirt on Mike Aguirre in their race for city attorney. The Sweetwater High School Board race is reaching new heights in campaign fund-raising and spending. And we highlighted Hispanics candidates in their races, Ben Hueso, Steve Castaneda, Jill Galvez, the school board races, well, as many as we could humanly possible. It was also time to pick, choose and endorse which is what we did throughout the month leading up to election night.

Writer Kathy Lopoz-Hodoyán brought us two interesting and compelling stories this month. The first was, “Armenian Community Meets in Tijuana; Remembers Genocide.” It was a story about the 13th anniversary of Armenia’s independence from the USSR. The other one was, “Human Slavery in the 21st Century.” The story was about very young Mexican girls sold into sex slavery in the United States and the work of Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition to raise the public’s awareness of this tragedy going on every day.

October is also about the Day of Dead, which is celebrated on both sides of border and we brought those stories to our readers. We continued the Presidential debate over who would serve the Hispanic community best, between Kerry and Bush. And we brought to our readers Mexico’s perspective about the Presidential race in a story by Luis Alonso Perez entitled, “The future of Mexico-United States relations: Interview with Dr. Victor Espinoza Valle.” In the interview with Victor Espinoza Valle, Academic secretary of Colegio de la Frontera Norte and a specialist in regional political processes, he talked about what Mexico can expect after the elections.

November – General Elections

Well it is finally here, the General Elections. For the past year and a half we have been building up to this point and it did not disappoint. More people than every came out to the polls and made their voices heard. The Presidential race had been the most divisive in memory. It finally came down to the Blue states versus the Red States (if you were a blue state you voted for Kerry, visa-versa) and there were more red states. We debated the whys and what fors in this Presidential race, two things were very clear, the voters were very passionate in their choice and those who voted for Kerry took it personal and hard. The second point was that the Republican Party made huge inroads with the Hispanic voter which does not reflect well on the Democratic Party. What the Democratic Party will do to reconnect with the Hispanic community will be one of the major topics in 2005.

Locally, the Donna Frye write-in campaign threw the election into a frenzy. At first the race was too close to call for days after the election. And then it became a question of do you count the votes where voters wrote in her name but did not fill in the bubble. Again this will be resolved in 2005. In the meantime Dick Murphy is mayor in name only.

Lori Saldana won as predicted. But the race for San Diego City Attorney turned out to be much, much closer than anyone thought it could be. It took every vote but slowly but surely Aguirre pulled away and won. And then as only Mike Aguirre can do he jumped into the debacle at city hall with the pension fund mess with both feet shaking up the establishment.

The other significant race, not so much in the contest themselves, but in the massive changeover at San Diego Unified School District. Alen Bersin and the Blueprint for Student Success, well we shall see, but it won’t be anything like the last eight years.

There were too many races locally to go over each and every one, but we did congratulate the winners and those who did not win. There were no losers. Those who choose to run showed great courage, made personal sacrifice, and demonsrated their committement to their community and ideals.

It was a relief that the elections were finally over.

We finished the month of November with stories such as “A women’s artistic week in Tijuana,” by Luis Alonso Pérez; “On Anniversary of El Salvador Jesuit’s Slaying, Momentum For Justice,” by Mary Jo McConahay; “Adopted Daughter a “Gift from God,” Their Son a True Miracle,” by Katia Lopez-Hodoyan.

December – Christmas and the rain.

The month of December is dominated by Christmas stories, La Virgen de Guadalupe stories, stories about others helping the less fortunate. It was a nice break from writing about politics.

We also covered the inauguration of Tijuana’s new mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. We wrote about the merger of Scripps Memorial and Scripps Mercy. And a story about an old tug boat.

All in all it was a very good year. We had the opportunity to bring to you the readers the stories about you and for you. We got to discuss the issues and provide information. We got to share the good stories with you and some talk about the bad news. Now we look forward to the New Year and the new changes that are going to come about for us the Hispanic community. Speaking for myself I can’t wait – Daniel Muñoz, Editor.

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