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LA PRENSA

LA PRENSA. La Prensa was a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in San Antonio from 1913 to 1963. When it first appeared on February 13, 1913, it met a real need-Mexicans residing temporarily in the United States desired to follow events in Mexico, which was engulfed in the Mexican Revolution. As the voice of "el Mexico de Afuera" ("Mexico Abroad"), La Prensa linked that community of Mexicans on the outside with the homeland. It provided coverage of Mexican national political events an well as analysis and criticism; it announced activities of Mexican and Mexican-American organizations; and it always reflected admiration and even reverence for Mexico and its people. It sometimes defended Mexicans and Mexican Americans from abuse. Above all, La Prensa promoted and expressed patriotic fervor for the homeland. The paper's founder, Ignacio E. Lozano, arrived in San Antonio in 1908 at the age of twenty-two. Economic hardship brought about by the death of his father prompted the family to leave their home in Mapimí, Durango, Mexico, to settle in the United States. After selling books and newspapers for a while, Lozano began work on a Spanish-language monthly, La Revista Mensual, published by Adolfo Salinas, a political exile residing in San Antonio. After deciding to focus primarily on the weekly newspaper El Noticiero, which Salinas printed, Lozano and Salinas decided to cease publication of La Revista Mensual, which was discontinued around the time of Salinas's death. Lozano continued publication of El Noticiero. Later he became involved with the publication of El Imparcial, a newspaper owned by Francisco A. Chapa. Thus, when he began publishing La Prensa in 1913, Lozano had considerable journalistic experience. The paper was begun as a weekly. The first year of operation saw circulation increase to 10,000. On October 10, 1914, La Prensa put out its first daily edition. The paper was sold all over South Texas and in communities of Mexican emigrés elsewhere in United States, Central and South America. It distinguished itself with its complete coverage and with the caliber of its contributors. Among them were José Vasconcelos, known as "the father of public education" in Mexico, and Vito Alessio Robles, a noted Mexican historian. La Prensa eventually had direct correspondents in Paris, Mexico City, and Washington.

On September 15, 1915, La Prensa printed its first annual special on Mexican patriotic themes. A thirteen-part series on Mexicans and education that ran from November 26 to December 26, 1916, gave special attention to the growing problem of segregation of children of Mexican descent. La Prensa attracted the talent of Querido Moheno, former minister of commerce and industry in Victoriano Huerta's cabinet. Moheno, a strong opponent of United States intervention, wrote for La Prensa from 1916 to 1933. The editorial pages criticized the regimes of Plutarco Calles and Venustiano Carranza in particular. The paper condemned Mexican policies and atrocities and deplored continuing power struggles. During Calles's most repressive years, La Prensa voiced the dissent of Mexicans both within and outside Mexico. Even while censored in Mexico, the paper circulated surreptitiously, and its editorials were reprinted and distributed by Periódicos Lozano. In 1928, the Congress of the Latin Press, meeting in Havana, Cuba, gave particular recognition to La Prensa and its sister paper, La Opinión, for their opposition to the Calles dictatorship. The Great Depression brought the paper a financial crisis, but the reading public scarcely knew of the seriousness of the situation. Exiled Mexicans scattered-many looked elsewhere for employment, and many returned to Mexico. The United States government's repatriation program, in cooperation with the Mexican government, gave La Prensa another important issue to address. During this crucial period in Mexican-American relations, La Prensa provided in-depth coverage of United States immigration policies and Mexican government directives. It reported the agricultural colonization efforts of the Mexican government to lure its people to return and informed readers of repatriation drives originating in Fort Worth, Austin, Bridgeport, and the Karnes City-Kenedy area.

La Prensa emerged from the depression with a new emphasis on women journalists and literature. Among its contributors were Rosario Sansores, a poet and journalist who had won the Lira Poética prize in Ecuador; and Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet who later won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature. Eventually, the repatriation of many Mexicans reduced the number of Spanish-speaking subscribers. Also, second and third generation offspring in the United States were becoming less fluent in Spanish. These factors led to the eventual demise of the newspaper. After Ignacio Lozano's death in 1953, La Prensa was continued by his widow and his longtime business manager, Leonides González. In June 1957 the paper suspended operation; it reappeared briefly as a weekly in July of that year. When González retired in 1957, the newspaper was sold to Texas millionaire-philanthropist Dudley Dougherty and Colombian economist Eduardo Grenas Gooding. The new owners announced extensive expansion of La Prensa into Central and South America, but the growth never materialized. The newspaper was sold for the last time to Roberto Brinsmade, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. The last issue of La Prensa, by now a bilingual tabloid, was published on January 31, 1963, just two weeks short of the paper's fiftieth anniversary. In March, with Brinsmade facing swindling charges, the Internal Revenue Service seized La Prensa's assets for back taxes. La Prensa had inspired its readers to civic service both in their adopted country and in their homeland. Its coverage of Mexican historical events and heroes kept alive a sense of solidarity and raised cultural awareness. No less important, the paper fostered an international cooperative spirit between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking people.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

The Americas Review, Fall-Winter 1989. Arthur F. Corwin, ed., Immigrants-and Immigrants: Perspectives on Mexican Labor Migration to the United States (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1978).

Nora E. Ríos McMillan

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Nora E. Ríos McMillan, "LA PRENSA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eel03), accessed November 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.