Rivera, Juan (1892–1971)

By: Julia Cauble Smith

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

Juan Rivera, Presidio County newspaperman, son of Hijinio and Josefa (Franco) Rivera, was born in Socorro, New Mexico, on July 12, 1892. Although his formal education was limited, he closely observed life and formed opinions he later expressed in his newspapers. Rivera and his wife, María, were the parents of six children. Sometime before 1925 the family moved to Marfa, Texas, where Rivera worked in the printing departments of two newspapers, the New Era and the Big Bend Sentinel. In 1925 he and Juan Valdez edited a Spanish page for the New Era, called "Edición Español." On April 16, 1928, Rivera began publication of his own newspaper, La Voz de Marfa. It was the only Spanish-language newspaper in the area and billed itself as the mouthpiece for the Mexican population of Marfa and Presidio County. By 1934 Rivera had moved to Presidio. He eventually acquired an old printing press and repaired it. In 1947 he began publishing a tabloid-size newspaper, the International, a highly individual journalistic venture. Rivera paid little attention to grammar and spelling. He ran few pictures in the paper. Issues came out whenever he finished them. His editorials were described as predictable-against war, inflation, and drunk drivers and for democracy, free enterprise, and the progress of Presidio. In 1961 Rivera ended publication of the International and established the Voice. He printed 500 copies of each issue, which came out as irregularly as the International. He sold the paper by subscription donations, which never allowed him a profit. When subscriptions expired, he continued sending the newspaper to keep circulation high for his advertisers. He used his Social Security check to pay newspaper postage. Because he could not afford to hire anyone, Rivera did all the work himself. He wrote the articles, editorials, and poetry in a mixture of English and Spanish. He sold advertisements locally and nationally, set the type, printed the paper, and addressed and mailed the copies. His efforts were rewarded, for his unorthodox newspaper was read by people throughout the country. The people of Presidio loved the man who reinforced their own patriotism and gave them pride in their town and country. Rivera suffered poor health in his later years, but he continued the newspaper though his infirmities slowed the work. He began his last issue in April 1970 and released it in September. He died on February 12, 1971, in Presidio.

Carla Black, "Benjamin Franklin of the Rio Grande," Texas Historian, May 1972. Newsweek, October 6, 1952.
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans

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

Julia Cauble Smith, “Rivera, Juan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rivera-juan.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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