Nada Hispano: Spanish-Language Press Unhappy in Reaction to Debates

Hoy (New York) reacts to the second presidential debate.

Hoy (New York) reacts to the 2nd presidential debate.

“Nothing Hispanic. Debate ignores the border, relations with Latin America and immigration.”

That was the text on the cover of Hoy newspaper in New York after the second presidential debate this week. No references to immigration, no mentions of Latin America.

“At the end of the presidential debate … the concern of Hispanic analysts was quick to come. They do not understand why our community was not taken into account,” Spanish wire service Agencia EFE said under the headline “Indebted to Latinos.”

Mexican analyst Lorenzo Meyer told EFE,

The worrisome part is that they did not touch upon one single Hispanic issue.

“There was a big issue which was forgotten: immigration,” wrote Carolina Sotola of She reported,

“It’s true that the economy is a topic that worries all of us no matter whether we are Hispanic or not,” said Paco Fabian, spokesman for pro-immigration group America’s Voice.

“But not even mentioning the issue of immigration reform seemed a mistake to me,” Fabian added, mentioning the very important role Latino voters will have in the Nov. 4 elections -especially in key states like Colorado, New Mexico, Florida and Nevada.

Sotola also quoted Christine Sierra, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, saying she was “disappointed by the questions. They were all of the same kind, a little boring and focused on the economy.”

El Diario/La Prensa, the other Spanish-language daily in New York — both belong to the Impremedia conglomerate — ran an editorial Thursday criticizing John McCain’s performance in the debate. The paper said he failed to recover from “his out-of-touch response to the nation’s economic crisis.”

Under the headline “Running Scared,” El Diario went on to castigate the McCain campaign’s attacks on Barack Obama, in particular its pounding on the association between Obama and former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers.

Such imputations are scurrilous. They are the demagogic equivalent of playing six degrees of separation. McCain served on the advisory board of the U.S. Council for World Freedom, an organization linked to death squads in Central America and the Afghan guerrillas that morphed into the Taliban. Does that mean that he helped terrorism? Please.

Taking advantage of its national network, Impremedia — which owns publications in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando, Tampa and Houston — sent eight reporters from its newspapers to watch the debate with Latino voters.

One of those voters, Mexican-born Águeda Vargas in Montebello, Calif., had her own questions for the candidates. She said she would ask Obama whether it’s true that, as President, he’d help undocumented immigrants. Her question for McCain would be, “How do we know if you’re going to continue George W. Bush’s policies?”

In San Francisco, Roger Eagleton, president of a group of Young Republicans and the son of a Salvadoran mother, said that both candidates have so far addressed immigration in a superficial manner. “I don’t yet know what their concrete proposals are,” he said.

Nielsen reported that the second Obama-McCain debate was watched by 34 percent more Hispanics than the first one.

This is how Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) at the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), summed it up at, under the headline: Presidential Debates Ignore 12 Million Elephants in the Room, Bypass Immigration.

What do the economy, health care, and foreign policy have in common?

They are all topics that are related to a critical issue that was not discussed in the election 2008 debates: immigration. Everyone from the Latino community to immigration advocates to probing journalists have been eagerly awaiting to hear more about what the two candidates plan to do about the 12 million undocumented people living in the United States. To date, they’ve heard very little.

Our immigration problem isn’t going to disappear just by not talking about it.

AboutDiego Graglia
Diego Graglia is a bilingual multimedia journalist who has worked at major media outlets in the U.S. and Latin America. He is currently the editor-in-chief at Expansion, Meixco’s leading business magazine.