Esta página no está disponible en español.

Green Bay Press-Gazette

Hispanics' Stories Touch Press-Gazette Journalists

The owner of a floor-covering business downtown believes in giving back to the community

Carol Hunter

February 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Green Bay Press-Gazette. All rights reserved. 

It was last summer that initial reporting started for the special project that begins today: "Seeking a NEW life -- The Hispanic migration to Northeastern Wisconsin."

In part through using data gleaned from the 2000 census, we sought to document the explosive growth of the Hispanic community in the Green Bay area and examine Hispanics' progress in earning higher wages, gaining more education, buying homes and achieving other measures of well being.

Eventually, we decided that to truly understand what motivates immigrants to journey hundreds of miles to come to a place so foreign from their homeland in language, climate and customs, we had to go there.

So we sent reporter Jose de Jesus and photographer Evan Siegle to Victoria de Cortazar, Mexico, an impoverished area typical of the hometowns of many of our new Hispanic neighbors.

Our staff learned a lot in reporting this project, seeing unimagined poverty in Mexico and witnessing new immigrants' determination to overcome language barriers and build a better life. While linked by language, the Hispanic community here is richly varied, encompassing those from 19 countries, poor and rich, illiterate and well educated.

I thought I'd turn over some of my column space today to key staffers who were involved in the project, to discuss their impressions after six months of work.

Jose de Jesus, 25, covers tax-and-spending issues. A native of Puerto Rico and a graduate of Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, he's worked at the Press-Gazette for 1 1/2 years. He did the reporting in Mexico, wrote several profiles of immigrants here and conducted many interviews requiring use of Spanish. {dc/Bdc}{dc/Idc}

My experience in Victoria de Cortazar was one that will stick with me for many years. I thought I had an idea of how poor the people are who live there, but I was wrong. I wasn't even close. It is extreme poverty.

In this town of about 7,000, the residents will do anything to better their lives, and that includes risking death to cross the border.

Poor Latinos are addicted to the United States. It's kind of like playing Russian roulette. Even though they realize something horrible could very well happen, they still go for it.

Victoria de Cortazar is a town of nice people with a great sense of humor. Every day, they dream of coming to the United States.

They are willing to do anything -- from prostitution to drinking urine -- to survive and reach their dreams. That type of behavior tells you -- as horrendous and painful as it is -- of the passion that many in Victoria de Cortazar have to reach their dream. And that dream is the American dream.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback