When Jorge Ramos speaks, millions of television viewers tune in. His nightly, national, Spanish-language newscast on Univision consistently scores higher Nielsen "sweep" ratings than its English-language counterparts in Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston. An Emmy Award-winning journalist, columnist, and best-selling author, Ramos' most recent book, Dying to Cross / Morir en el Intento, chronicles the 2003 immigrant tragedy in Victoria, Texas. Ramos spoke with the Current from Miami before a book tour in Texas.
What was it about the Victoria tragedy that resonated with you the most?
It was the worst tragedy in U.S. immigration history. People die every day crossing the border, but never have 19 people died in one incident. The death of a 5-year-old boy was one thing that deeply affected me. The authorities found the bodies of the boy and his father embracing.
In a recent column you wrote that the reason immigrants continue to come here is that there is no future in their countries.
If you are a Mexican, a Salvadoran, or a Colombian and make $5 a day, and you know that you can earn the same amount in the United States in 30 minutes, you are going to come. For more than seven decades the government of Mexico has not been able to provide good, paying jobs for Mexicans. There is no reason for them to stay in the country.
President Vicente Fox recently put his foot in his mouth when speaking about Mexicans accepting jobs that even blacks wouldn't take. Is the Mexican economy kept afloat by money (remesas) Mexicans send home?
Let's start with a fact: Fox did not fulfill his campaign promise to create 1 million jobs every year. Since the Mexican government can't provide those jobs, it has to depend on the $16-20 billion a year that Mexicans in the U.S. send home. For Mexico this is a great business now. For the U.S., it is a great business having Mexican workers here. That is why you do not see a rush by either government to negotiate an immigration agreement or change the status quo. The way things are works to the advantage of both governments.
| Jorge Ramos: |
'Dying to Cross'
Reading and book-signing
Noon Sat, Jun 4
Borders Books at the Quarry
255 E. Basse
Last time we spoke, you predicted that Latinos would play a crucial part in the 2004 presidential election. Did that happen?
People are finally realizing how important this demographic change is becoming. The Republicans capitalized on that; 43 percent of the Hispanic vote went for Bush. We now have two Hispanic senators, an Attorney General, one governor, and a Latino mayor in the second-largest city in the U.S. •