Friday, October 27, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 49 

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Ramos: Candidates ignore Hispanics

Univision anchorman discusses how Bush and Gore are garnering the Hispanic vote --but forgetting about the issues

By Miriam A. Garcia
Senior Staff Writer

At the beginning of the presidential campaign, Jorge Ramos, an anchorman for the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision, interviewed candidates in Spanish. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush were showing up to rallies with Mariachi music and speaking Spanish in efforts to garner the Hispanic vote.

The Hispanic community was being courted more than in previous election years, but Ramos said the candidates refused to discuss what mattered most: issues affecting the Hispanic community.

"We really thought they were interested in us, but then when the campaign started getting more intense, they forgot about us again as they've done every four years," Ramos said during a visit to Houston Wednesday. 

Ramos, an immigrant from Mexico City, was promoting his book La Otra Cara de America at Talento Bilingüe de Houston. His visit was sponsored by Nuestra Palabra, an organization that promotes Hispanic writers.

He said Hispanics are concerned about the issues the candidates refuse to discuss.

"Of course we care about education and health, but they forgot to talk about issues like amnesty or the need for democracy in Cuba or the Navy in Puerto Rico," Ramos said. "So then, after a while, they forgot about us again."

His award-winning newscast, co-anchored by María Elena Salinas, is seen by about 1 million viewers. Univision reaches about 85 percent of the Spanish-speaking audience.

The anchorman has interviewed high-ranking officials in Latin America and has had full access to the U.S. presidential candidates trying to reach the Hispanic community. He has won several awards, including two Emmys in 1999 for his coverage of Hurricane Mitch in Central America.

Ramos' new book tells the story of Latin American immigrants in the United States and the struggles and discrimination they endure. It also touches on amnesty laws, which Ramos said could have prevented deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border.

More than 700 people have been killed on the border in the last five years, Ramos said.

"I've had the chance to talk to (Gore and Bush) and neither of them wants to commit themselves to an amnesty," he said. "Of course, it is very unpopular to say that in these days before the election, but I hope that they change their minds after the election is over, whoever wins."

He said Mexico needs some sort of migratory agreement in addition to the North American Free Trade Agreement, because immigrants will continue to cross the border illegally.

"The immigrants are going to continue to come," Ramos said. "Nothing is going to stop them, so we better do it in a very orderly way instead of having 700 people killed."

Ramos said he supports the open-border policy proposed by Vicente Fox, the Mexican president-elect, during his recent visit to the United States.

Fox's idea of an open border where thousands of Mexican immigrants could cross into the United States to find work was not well-received by Gore, Bush or President Clinton.

"I think (it) is too much for most Americans, but I guess eventually that is the only way to go," Ramos said.

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