Author: Telemundo Network | Date: 12 March 2018
MIAMI –March 12, 2018- Today, for the first time in the history of Spanish-language television, Noticias Telemundo aired a conversation between the main news anchors from the country’s leading Hispanic networks: José Díaz-Balart, of Noticias Telemundo, and Jorge Ramos, of Univision Noticias. The full conversation, which took place at Books and Books bookstore in Coral Gables, Florida, is available through this link (Spanish).
Below are some excerpts* from this historic encounter:
About the historic importance of the conversation:
José Díaz-Balart (JDB): Jorge. What a pleasure to see you!
Jorge Ramos (JR): The pleasure is mine. This is a meeting we’ve been postponing for 30 years.
JDB: 30 years!
JR: We should have done this a long time ago, shouldn’t we?
JDB: We’ve had a chance to share experiences in private and as friends, but it’s taken us too long to do something like this.
JR: And I think it’s important for Univision and Telemundo to be able to collaborate and normalize their relationship.
JDB: Of course.
JR: At ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN… the people who work there go from one to the other to talk about and promote their projects, and it’s perfectly fine. But somehow we put up a wall, and now we’re trying to tear it down.
JDB: A wall that, until now, has been impossible to break though.
JR: But starting now, I hope things can change.
About the Mexican elections:
JDB: In the past…for example, when Andrés López Obrador lost the elections, do you think he might have actually won?
JR: I think that Peña Nieto used all of the resources and tricks the system had to offer to get where he is now. And Peَña Nieto could rank as one of the worst presidents in Mexican history.
JDB: And that’s saying a lot.
JR: Yes … in this one six-year term, more Mexicans have been murdered than in any other.
JDB: And impunity is, unfortunately, an integral part of recent Mexican history. Impunity has reached a level where no one even tries to conceal it.
JR: Just imagine: President Enrique Peña Nieto’s wife buys a $7 million house from a government contractor, and he thinks we’re so stupid that he assigns one of his cronies to do the investigation, and then he says, “See, nothing happened.” In any other part of the world that would lead to an investigation and, without a doubt, jail.
About the US presidential campaign and being an immigrant in the Trump era
JDB: In your book Stranger, you say that you have never felt so rejected or so … marginalized by some people as you have under Trump.
JR: Let’s see, when Donald Trump is voted into office and says, “Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists…” Well, I’m a Mexican immigrant.... When he decided to run, in June 2015, I sent him a handwritten letter with my cellphone number, and he published the number on Instagram. Then, two months later, I went to a press conference…
JDB: In Iowa.
JR: And I confronted him there, as anyone would have done. I stood up because I wanted to be at the same level, so that our body language would be the same. Because television doesn’t just happen - we were surrounded by 6, 7 cameras – television is something you create. And so I raised my hand and said, “I have a question about immigration.” If I had waited for Donald Trump to give me permission to speak, I would still be standing there now with my hand in the air. I faced him down, and Donald Trump told me: “Go back to Univision.” What he was really saying was: “Go back to your country!”
JDB: That’s right…
JR: “Go back to Mexico” is what he wanted to say. And seconds later, because hatred is contagious, one of his supporters turned to me and said: “Get out of my country!”
JDB: And you didn’t expect that.
JR: No, I didn’t expect that. And when someone hates you, José, you feel it; you don’t just hear it. You feel it in your whole body. The same thing has happened to you, I know…Trump included. He said: “Excuse me, excuse me” to you, right?
JDB: “You are finished,” is what he told me. “You are finished.”
JR: He said that to you?
JDB: That’s right: “Tú estás terminado.”
JR: Your revenge will be in 2020, when you say to him: “No, Mr. Trump, you are finished.”
About journalism and activism:
JDB: You say (in your book): “I’ve been accused of being an activist. I am not. I am simply a journalist who asks questions.”
JR: That’s right.
JDB: Now, the questions you ask...can sometimes be biased, can’t they?
JR: Sure, but I think that as journalists …and I want to hear what you think about this, too...as journalists, I think that we have two functions. The first is to report the truth as it is, not as we wish it were. If the book is orange, then we say it’s orange.
JDB: Of course.
JR: And if there are 300 of them, we say 300. Very good so far. The other social responsibility we have is to question those who have power and give a voice to those who don’t. I believe that in cases of racism, discrimination, corruption, lying to the public, dictatorships, human rights violations, we should put aside our neutrality and take a stand. That’s what I believe. What about you? What do you think?
JDB: You’re talking about the influence of Elie Wiesel, among other people.
JR: Exactly. What do you think? How do you see your role?
JDB: …The vocation of a journalist is to seek the truth.
Advice for future generations:
JDB: What message – and you talk about this at the end of your book – would you like to give your children? And what message do you have for a future that you won’t see?
JR: I wrote my children a letter that says, “Disobey.”
JR: Disobey. When your principles tell you one thing but people ask you to do something else, disobey. When you see cases of racism and discrimination, disobey. Don’t give in. I think our legacy for our children should be that sometimes you have to be like the dreamers, like the survivors of the school in Parkland. You have to go out there, stand up and say: “No.”