Jorge Ramos

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Author, “The Latino Wave:How Hispanics will elect the next American President” The television anchor for Noticiero Univision discusses his experience as an immigrant, anchor, and author. Ramos has been an anchor at Univision for 16 years, and has won 7 Emmys for excellence in journalism.

Good evening, I am José Cárdenas. Welcome to Horizonte. It's a lack of prevention awareness contributing to a higher rate of cancer in Hispanics in Arizona. A one on one with Jorge Ramos, television anchor and author of "The Latino Wave."

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in Hispanic adults following heart disease. Joining us to talk about early detection and prevention among Hispanics is Veronica Perez, planning director from the American Cancer Society. Veronica, good evening. Thank you for joining us.

>> Veronica Perez:
Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

>> José Cárdenas:
Can I ask first what is your position with the American Cancer Society and what does it entail?

>> Veronica Perez:
Currently I am the planning director for the American Cancer Society, Great West Division. We have recently merged, so we now have 12 states in our division. My areas of responsibility are Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. What I typically work on are outcomes development, making sure we are working toward specific goals and objectives, working with our staff to develop community assessments, so our programs and services are truly meeting the needs in our communities, and also educating our staff and volunteers about data and statistics so we have a better understanding of what the cancer burden is among our communities.

>> José Cárdenas:
You were involved with a recent publication about cancer facts and figures in Arizona. Tell us about that document and your involvement.

>> Veronica Perez:
The document you are referring to is Arizona Cancer Facts and Figures. It is a collaborative effort that we undertook with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Cancer Registry. Amy Stoll, the data manager there, and I both created this document and it's an overview of the cancer burden in Arizona. It looks at incidence and mortality rates, stage of diagnosis, behavioral and prevention data, from across the state by gender, by county, and by race and ethnicity.

>> José Cárdenas:
Has this been done before?

>> Veronica Perez:
This in Arizona is the first time we have done this document. We're hoping to do this at least on a biannual basis. Nationally we do have documents that come out on an annual basis.

>> José Cárdenas:
As I understand it, the data covers all ethnic groups, but you were able to extract information that's specific to Hispanics; is that right?

>> Veronica Perez:
Yes, that's correct.

>> José Cárdenas:
What's the most significant finding you came across?

>> Veronica Perez:
Overall, we don't see a big difference in the types of cancers that afflict Hispanics as compared to other race or ethnic groups, with one exception, notably and that is that cervical cancer among Hispanic women remains a leading cause of cancer diagnosis. We don't see that in the top five, that's what we determine as leading causes of cancer in the other racial groups for Hispanic women.

>> José Cárdenas:
What are the leading causes of cancer?

>> Veronica Perez:
Overall they are typically the same for other racial and ethnic groups. For men prostate cancer and for women breast cancer, and for both men and women it includes lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

>> José Cárdenas:
As I understand, though, you did find some differences based on ethnicity in terms of access to insurance?

>> Veronica Perez:
Absolutely. What we've seen in Arizona is that 34% of Hispanics lack any kind of health insurance. That's different when you look at the Arizona population as a whole. As a whole, the Arizona population is 19% lacking health insurance. So there is a big disparity in access to care.

>> José Cárdenas:
Does that lead to any higher incidents of cancer deaths among Hispanics?

>> Veronica Perez:
Not necessarily incidents in mortality rates, but it's much more related to the stage of diagnosis. What we know for a fact is that the earlier the cancer is detected, the more likely the option treatment options will be successful and there will be more treatment option for that type of cancer. What we see throughout this document, regardless of the type of cancer is that Hispanics have a higher stage of late-stage diagnosis percentage than white Americans, for example.

>> José Cárdenas:
What is the American Cancer Society doing to educate the Hispanic population?

>> Veronica Perez:
We have several efforts in place currently. In terms of mass marketing, or mass media, we have our 1-800 number that is accessible to anyone. It does have capability to respond to Hispanic-speaking calls, as well as English calls. And many other different languages as well. Our Web site, the information on the Web site is also available in Spanish.

>> José Cárdenas:
That would include this particular report?

>> Veronica Perez:
With the exception of the report. We do have a national report that is available in Spanish. But unfortunately, the Arizona report is not available currently in Spanish.

>> José Cárdenas:
It is available in English on the Web site?

>> Veronica Perez:
Yes, it is.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mentioned earlier when we were discussing a patient navigator program?

>> Veronica Perez:
Yes, in partnership with Maricopa integrated health systems, which is the county hospital here in Maricopa County. We have a patient navigator program in place here at the hospital. We have staff and volunteers that will help patients, which are at the hospital, with information about cancer, both for prevention and early detection purposes, but also for those patients who have been newly diagnosed to talk to them about what their options are, what kinds of programs we have available for them, and for their family members. And the staff and volunteers there are able to speak Spanish and often work as translators for -- between the doctors and the patients.

>> José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." Hope to have you back again soon.

>> Veronica Perez:
Thank you very much.

>> José Cárdenas:
For more information, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or go to www.cancer.org. Jorge Ramos has been an anchor Univision for 16 years. He has won seven Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He writes a weekly column for newspapers in the United States and Latin America. He has interviewed presidents and foreign leaders and has authored various books, including his latest, "The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President." I sat down with Jorge Ramos to talk about his experiences as an author and immigrant and his new book.

>> José Cárdenas:
Jorge, thank you for joining us.

>> Jorge Ramos:
Great to be here.

>> José Cárdenas:
I would like to do is talk first about your experiences as an author and immigrant and then talk about your new book, and some of the issues raised there. You've written six books and in one of them "Lo Que Vi" ("What I Saw") you mentioned that you had the luck to be born in interesting times and that you viewed journalism as your window to the world. Tell us about some of your more interesting assignments and interviews.

>> Jorge Ramos:
I became a journalist almost by accident. I remember being a journalist on a radio station in Mexico when then President Ronald Reagan was shot, and I was the only one who spoke a little English, and who had a visa to travel to the United States. That's when I realized when I finally went all the way to Washington, and I was back then, I was a terrible reporter, but I realized --

>> José Cárdenas:
You were a young reporter?

>> Jose Ramos:
Very young. I was 20-something. I realized that journalism was going be for me a window to the world, and then I realized that I wanted to talk to the people who changed history, and I wanted to be a witness to history. And 20-something years later, I've been to more than 50 countries, interviewed more than 60 presidents and been to five wars.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Which were the most exciting or interesting interviews of the ones you've done.

>> Jorge Ramos:
The more authoritarian, the more character, the better.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mentioned Fidel Castro.

>> Jorge Ramos:
Fidel Castro -- definitely one of the most interesting interviews I've done, even though it lasted one minute and some seconds before the eight body guards pull immediate aside and threw me to the floor. That's how we ended.

>> José Cárdenas:
Is that what you meant by the more authoritarian the better?

>> Jorge Ramos:
Well, it's definitely intense. Chavez was intense when I asked him, if he had killed With Carlos Salinas de Gortari - when I asked him if he had killed Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon in Mexico.

>> José Cárdenas:
That's Mexico's ex-president.

>> Jorge Ramos:
Exactly. Also the former president of Mexico since I'm from Mexico, and I still remember being censored in Mexico, and I remember when the PRI was in power, I was born with a PRI in power. I thought it was going to by dye with the PRI in power, fortunately in the year 2000 everything changed, but those might be the most interesting interviews that I've done. And also with did I Marcos.

>> José Cárdenas:
Now, another dominant theme of your books is experiences of immigrants, including yours. And one of the things that you mentioned on a number of occasions is that the best thing about the United States is it has given immigrants opportunities they did not have in their native countries, and the worst thing is the racism. Can you elaborate on that?

>> Jorge Ramos:
I'm still an immigrant. And sometimes when I go back to my country of origin, to Mexico, something strange happens, because I don't feel that I belong completely to Mexico any more. And then when I come back, I realize that sometimes I'm not even completely accepted in this country, and when I go on TV and radio or write about immigrants and defend the point of view, especially undocumented immigrants and Latinos, they tell me go back to your country of origin, and sometimes I feel that I don't belong anywhere. I don't have a house, I don't have a home. So that's what we have as Latinos. I think we have a --

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you think all Latinos feel that way?

>> Jorge Ramos:
Not all Latinos. About 60% of Latinos were born in the United States. My son Nicholas and my daughter Paula, they were both born here and they feel completely American. What happens with immigrants like me, we have these double identities, double consciousness. If you asked me to identify myself, I would say I'm Mexican, and secondly I might say I'm a Latino or Hispanic, and thirdly, I might even say that I am an American. So it is not easy to be an immigrant in the United States, especially after 9/11, it is not easy.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mentioned in your books or you've been described because you talk about the experiences of immigrants and others as the voice of the powerless, you also have attributed your inspiration as an author to -- and as a journalist -- to people like Elena Poniatowska
and Oriana Fallaci. Is there a connection between those two things?

>> Jorge Ramos:
I am an immigrant, and I have a privileged position as an author and as a writer, and as an anchorman, to give a voice to those who do not have a voice. So that's what that is has been shown in my work in television and in my books and in my columns. And I have two role models. One is the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. I always loved when I was a student her interview with history, her book in which she confronted the most powerful men in the world. And then Elena Poniatowska, a Mexican writer, showed me that you need to confront those who are in power in order to be a good journalist. She wrote "La noche de Tlatelolco" in which she described what happened in October 2, 1968, when the Mexican army killed more than 400 Mexican students. She kept alive the memory of those students. So I learned from them that the most important social responsibility for any journalist is to confront those who are in power and to prevent the abuse of those who are in power. And I think that's basically what I do in my writings and that's exactly what I do when I'm interviewing, when I'm on the other side, when I am on your side.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about that just a second before we go on to your book. You are one of the anchors of that one of the most watched news shows in the country. In fact in Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, it outpolls or outdraws all of the major network news shows, and you've been described as one of the most powerful Hispanics in the country. What's your reaction?

>> Jorge Ramos:
I'm not sure if I'm powerful enough. I wish I could change the life of one immigrant by giving him a green card, but I simply can't. But I can voice their concerns. So as you know, before the interviews, we always have some time to talk with powerful people, and I've had the opportunity to talk to George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton, with George W. Bush, with John Kerry, and before the interviews and after the interviews, we get to talk about pretty important things for Latinos, especially right now an amnesty, about the fact that 300,000 Latinos have loss of the their jobs in last three years, about the fact that 40% of the Latinos are poor, or about the fact that 6 out of 10 Latinos do not have health insurance. So that's my job. I'm just a bridge between those who sometimes don't have a voice and those who have a lot of power.

>> José Cárdenas:
Those are all subjects that you discuss in the newest book, "The Latino Wave." I'd like to begin the discussion of that with actually the last two sentences in the book, where you say any way you look at it, the future of the United States is a Hispanic one, so the Latino wave isn't stoppable. Explain what you mean by that.

>> Jorge Ramos:
There is an incredible demographic revolution going on in this country. It is going to affect everything from politics to the economy, to music, to food, to the way we communicate. I call it the Latino wave or the Latinization of the United States. Right now there are 40 million of us in this country. 50 years from now there will be 100 million Latinos and in 120 years from now, and I'm sorry to say neither you or I are going to be here, but in the year 2125, there will be more Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites in this country. So what does that mean? The United States, will it be a bilingual country? Recently a reporter from Washington asked me, does it mean that the United States will become a Latino American nation, or a developing nation? Not at all. It doesn't mean either that I am preaching for Hispanic political domination partnership mean, it would be absurd when we are completely on the -- we don't have a senator or a judge in the Supreme Court, but basically what I'm saying is that eventually, this country will have a Latino majority, and that these demographic revolution will have a greater impact on everything in this country, even more than the war against terrorism.

>> José Cárdenas:
Does that support the claims by somebody like Harvard professor Samuel Huntington that Hispanics are not assimilating into this culture?

>> Jorge Ramos:
I think what Professor Huntington did simply does not stand with the facts. Huntington doesn't get it. It is true that there is a process of Latinization, more tortillas are sold than bagels, more salsa is sold than ketchup. Spanish is spoken in every single corner of the United States. The most watched and listened to television stations sometimes are in Spanish. Millions of Latinos are becoming U.S. citizens. I personally met dozens of them fighting in Iraq willing to give their lives to this country. So, not only that, second generation Latinos feel more comfortable in English than in Spanish like my son Nicholas. Third generation, they mare outside of the Hispanic community. So here are examples of the way in which Latinos are going through a process of Americanization. Yes, there is a process of Latinization, but we have this under current of Americanization. It is a process of mutual transformation. Contrary to what Professor Huntington is saying, we are not a threat to the integrity of this country. Octavio Paz before he passed away, I had an opportunity to talk to him, the Mexican part. He told me that the challenge for the United States is to recognize itself as a multicultural, multiethnic society. I wonder after reading Huntington's essay if he gets it, if he understands that this is a multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial society.

>> José Cárdenas:
You've said a number of things in this regard, one, that we're not a melting pot, and you've said that -- and this has to do with the English-only movement, that what unites is us not English, but our diversity. What do you mean by all of that?

>> Jorge Ramos:
The unifying force of this country is not English. It would be absurd to state something like that, because by saying that, I can say, well, let's teach people in Guatemala English, and they would become a super power. It doesn't work that way. The unifying forces of the United States are their tolerance for diversity, their acceptance of immigrants, this drive for innovation, and especially certain fantastic concepts of the American creed, liberty, equality, social justice. That is what makes America great, not English. Right now the United States is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. More people speak Spanish or Spanglish in the United States than in Colombia, Argentina or Spain. Only in Mexico are there more people who speak Spanish than in the United States. This is also the only country in which I know there is many people who believe that to speak one language is better than to speak two. I cannot understand it, if that I would venture that a fantastic change is that all children by the time they reach 12th grade, they should be able to read at least two languages in this country, not only one. It is not English, the unifying force of this country. It is not English which has made this country great. Contrary to what many people are saying, the majority of Latinos were born in the United States, 56%, so they are as American as any other and almost 90% of Latinos are bilingual, even those of us with an accent like mine. So, we are part of the United States. We just want to be accepted and be respected.

>> José Cárdenas:
A principal focus of your book as the subtitle indicates is the upcoming election. You talk about the Columbus syndrome. What do you mean by that?

>> Jorge Ramos:
Every four years, we are being rediscovered. And that's exactly what I mean. We don't exist, Latinos don't exist for the rest of the population, unless there is an elections year. And for the candidates and for politicians, they don't pay attention to us unless it's an election year. So we had in the year 2000, Al Gore and George Bush trying to speak Spanish and trying to woo the Hispanic vote. He President Bush told me he believed that the Latino vote decided the 2000 election. There was just a difference of 537 votes. So, in this election, the year 2004, we have exactly the same thing going on, George Bush and John Kerry trying to communicate in Spanish to Hispanic voters, because they need the Hispanic vote to win for the first time in history. No candidate will be able to get to the White House without a significant portion of the Hispanic vote.

>> José Cárdenas:
You say they need it. You also say in your book that at least at this point, neither of them deserve it. What do you mean by that?

>> Jorge Ramos:
They don't. Because Bill Clinton used to say that he wanted to be the last U.S. president who didn't speak Spanish. He was right. Actually George W. Bush is the first U.S. president who speaks Spanish or the first U.S. president who thinks that he speaks Spanish. To be perfectly neutral, both John Kerry, and George Bush are the masters of the seven words in Spanish. Viva Mexico, Viva Puerto Rico, Viva Cuba Libre -- but this year, they have to go saying a few words in Spanish, and to go beyond what we call sombrero and taco politics to truly address the specific concerns of the Hispanic community. They have to go from Hispanic to specifics -- they have to address issues like education, healthcare, jobs and immigration.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about immigration because that's another major focus of the book. You talk about the Latino versus the non-Latino views on that subject. What can you tell us about that?

>> Jorge Ramos:
The debate immigration has to do mostly with undocumented immigrants. Right now there are 9 million undocumented immigrants living in this country, maybe more. And there is a double standard in this country. Many people criticize undocumented immigrants. They tell them to go back to their country of origin, but guess what, at the same time, millions of Americans are taking advantage of the work of undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are needed to maintain inflation under control, to pay for the Social Security of a rapidly aging population, and Latino immigrants, many of them, undocumented immigrants, basically are taking the jobs that many Americans do not want to take. Immigrants comprise 34% of house keepers, about 23% of all work force in farming and fishing. 21% of assembly lines. 18% of all of the service industries. So without Latinos, I don't if you've seen a movie called "A Day without Mexicans."

>> José Cárdenas:
It will be airing later this month in Phoenix.

>> Jorge Ramos:
It shows what will happen in this country without Latinos. It will be chaos. It will be a crisis.

>> José Cárdenas: There is so much more to talk about this subject, but let me ask you one more question in this regard. You have your own interesting immigration proposal as it relates to education.

>> Jorge Ramos:
One of the tragedies that we have in this country is that even though many, many students are undocumented, they can go on through elementary school and high school without having to show that they are legally in this country, but when they go to college, or when they want to go the university, they cannot go on because they don't have $20,000 to pay or $30,000 to pay. Eight states have changed their local laws, state laws to provide the possibility for these students to pay in-state tuitions, but my proposal is simple. If we want to increase the levels of education in the Hispanic community, which we actually have to, it would be fantastic that the family of all of these students, who are finally becoming college students, could at the end of four years of university or college, become legal residents. And believe me, we have thousands and thousands of undocumented immigrants, students, trying to have master's degrees and Ph.Ds just so their families can become legal residents. I don't think it will pass in Congress.

>> José Cárdenas:
As I understand, you would propose that if somebody graduates from high school, that they would get state residency which would allow them to go to college and then --

>> Jorge Ramos:
Absolutely.

>> José Cárdenas:
The second point would kick in.

>> Jorge Ramos:
Absolutely.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let me ask you this. You are in Arizona today for -- in connection with your book. You appeared on a talk show, radio talk show this morning. What was your experience like?

>> Jorge Ramos:
It was not a pleasant experience. I was surprised. It was an interview conducted in English, and I was talking exactly about the same things that we're discussing right now, and I was shocked by the level of prejudice and intolerance from many of the callers, even -- I cannot understand their hatred toward Latinos and especially undocumented immigrants in this country. They do not realize the importance of undocumented immigrants. When I was telling them the facts, the most comprehensive study ever conducted by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that all immigrants, legal and undocumented contributed more than $10 billion a year to the economy of the United States. Every single immigrant in this country is paying a check for $1,800 to the U.S. government every year, in other words, they take less than what they contribute to this country and people do not understand that.

>> José Cárdenas:
One of the issues in Arizona, for example, is the amount of money being spent on healthcare undocumented immigrants.

>> Jorge Ramos:
Immigrants pay taxes. Even undocumented immigrants pay taxes all the time. So, the problem is not Arizona. The problem is that most of those taxes are being paid to the federal government. So actually the quarrel is not between the people of Arizona and undocumented immigrants, the quarrel should be between the State of Arizona and the federal government. They should get more money from the federal government because all of these immigrants are paying their taxes. But, when -- especially when he use the term "illegal immigrants," words are important. It implies to many people that immigrants are criminals or terrorists, but immigrants are not criminals. Immigrants are not terrorists, especially undocumented immigrants coming from Latin America. They are hard working, family-oriented, religious people. They were not involved with 9/11. They were not part of the 19 hijackers who killed almost 3,000 people in the year 2001. They are here to make this country even better than what it is.

>> José Cárdenas:
What you heard this morning was very --

>> Jorge Ramos:
Shocking. I have been all over the country promoting by book and doing reports. I have not seen in any other state the kind of venom and prejudice that I've heard here in Arizona. I'm sorry to say that. Maybe in Colorado sometimes when Congressman Tom Tancredo speaks. But not here. I was shocked.

>> José Cárdenas:
Any final observations on Arizona or the upcoming election?

>> Jorge Ramos:
Eight million Hispanic voters will decide this election. The country is split politically between John Kerry and George Bush. The country is polarized by the war, and I truly believe that this 8 million Hispanic voters will decide the election because they are concentrated in 10 states, among them five states, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. At the end, that's what's so fantastic about this country. Again, a minority will decide this election. And Latinos will realize how important they are in this country. Eight million Hispanic voters will have the final word. And the importance of the Hispanic vote is determined and is defined by its ability to determine an outcome of this election, despite the fact that Latinos are not the majority. They share the American dream. The only difference is that sometimes we dream in Spanish.

>> José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

>> Jorge Ramos:
Thank you very much.

>> José Cárdenas:
Pleasure. If you would like to see web links related to tonight's show, transcripts or what's coming up on "Horizonte," go to our web site at www.kaet.asu.edu, click on "Horizonte" at the left of your screen and follow the links. That's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching and join us next Thursday on "Horizonte." I'm your host, Jose Cardenas.

Jorge Ramos: Univision anchor and author of "The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President " ;

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