Interview with Jorge Ramos
Brian Lamb: Jorge Ramos in your book No Borders you lead off the prologue by saying I do not feel at home, never anywhere. Still true? That was a couple years ago?
Jorge Ramos: It’s true. I I have a Twitter account, I don’t know if you’re in Twitter but when they ask me where do you live and I say well mostly in Miami but most of the time I’m on the air either on the air doing either news casting and television program or on the air traveling all around the world. My family, they live in Mexico City, I have very good friends all over the United States. My daughter is right now in Paris, my girlfriend in Los Angeles. So I’m I don’t have a home and maybe maybe my home my only home was where I was born in Mexico City and it’s the house where I lived for almost 20 years and I still remember the address and the phone number and that’s the only time in my life where I’ve felt at home and now in the United States this country has given me the opportunities that my country of origin couldn’t give me, but still I have the sense of I’m an immigrant and I feel like an immigrant 27 years after getting to the United States I still feel like an immigrant. So there’s no home for me anymore.
Brian Lamb: Why did you become an American citizen and what year did you do it?
Jorge Ramos: I did it last I did it in 2008. For me it was very important to participate fully in this country. It’s truly a wonderful country and my fight is that this country would treat other immigrants like me the same way they treated the millions of immigrants who came after me. It’s truly amazing, who could have thought that when John F. Kennedy was writing his book ”A Nation of Immigrants,” it was 1958, I was born exactly that year and with those wonderful ideas and of course he was killed in ’63, but in ’65 with the immigration act of 1965 everything changed and because of that, because John F. Kennedy and because of ”A Nation of Immigrants” I’m in this country, so I wanted to participate fully. I was very concerned about the war, I was concerned about my kids. Paola who’s 23 right now and Nicolas who’s 12, they were born here in this country and I wanted to I wanted to be fully part of the United States. This has been a wonderful, generous, and magnificent country for me and I wanted to be part of it.
Brian Lamb: Those who don’t speak Spanish and don’t watch Univision, lately you’ve been appearing on other networks that English speaking networks, where would they see you night after night?
Jorge Ramos: I’m doing news deck every night at 6:30, nationwide. And it goes not only to all the United States but also to 13 Latin American countries and they on Sunday mornings they have the political talk show so they can see me either Sunday’s or every night at 6:30, competing with the networks. What’s so interesting is that when I first arrived in the United States in 1983 there were only about 15 million Latinos in this country and right now there are 50 million the census is going to confirm this, what’s so interesting is that I’ve been at the cusp of this wonderful Latino wave and right now in many cities like Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, our newscasts in Spanish get better ratings and have more audience than English language newscasts, so something is changing in this country. the Latinos will become the majority in this country, we won’t be here Brian, but less than 100 years from now, Latinos will become a majority in this country and the change is well underway, its changing everything from the way we talk in espanol to the way we dance, to the way we eat, to the way we do politics. There’s a new rule in politics right now in the United States without Latino without the Latino vote no one can make it to the White House. So everything has been changed.
Brian Lamb: I counted under Univision’s affiliates about 64, is that number close across the country?
Jorge Ramos: I am I mean owned and operated less than that, but affiliated to Univision probably that’s the right number.
Brian Lamb: How many people watch you at 6:30 at night? Do you know?
Jorge Ramos: It’s over two million people. Easily I mean we’re the fifth largest network in the United States and people don’t realize that. And in the mornings, Sunday mornings, maybe about a million people.
Brian Lamb: There was a time when Henry Cisneros ran Univision and several people have owned it including Jerry Perenchio who was there when you started.
Jorge Ramos: Absolutely.
Brian Lamb: Who owns it now?
Jorge Ramos: It’s a new group, Haim Saban is in charge of the group and there’s a group of investors who trusted us and I think they believe in us and they believe in the Hispanic community and they believe that we’re going to keep on growing. What’s so interesting is that while the networks constantly complain about the decline in ratings, we’re going exactly the opposite way. Now with the work up with we had again just recently was Mexico playing against Uruguay and more than 9 million people tune in. So something is changing in this country. Something magnificent is going in this country and it also has to do with math. Not only more immigrants still coming in, most of them speak Spanish, but we Latinos love each other so much that we tend to have more children, three children per family in comparison to about two children per family with the rest of the American families. So we’re going to keep on growing.
Brian Lamb: OK, what does it mean? Haim Saban, who you know runs the company and owns the company that owns Univision, born in Alexandria Egypt, moved to Israel, moved to France, moved to the United States. What was the mighty morphin power ranger thing that he developed years ago, very active politically Democrat in the country, big supporter of Bill Clinton, now owns the Spanish speaking network. Does it mean anything?
Jorge Ramos: It means it means that this country is based on the acceptance of immigrants. This country is based on diversity and this country promotes creativity and what a wonderful experiment when Alexis de Tocquevills was in this country he was he was amazed by realizing that it doesn’t matter where you come from, there’s this sense of equality so it’s Haim’s story and my story and millions of stories that once you come to this country everyone’s equal. I mean 234 years ago with the declaration of independence we were promised that all men are created equal and we can say all men and women are created equal. Unfortunately things are changing. I just came back from South Africa, carving the work up and I was amazingly surprised to see how only in 16 years South Africans not only have put aside apartheid but they’ve progressed incredibly against discrimination and segregation, but when I came back and when you see what’s going on in Arizona, you realize that they are going exactly the opposite direction of south Africans. I’m not saying that the majority of people in Arizona for instance want to create an apartheid system, but what I’m seeing in Arizona and other parts of the country, the way they treat undocumented immigrants resembles shamefully the worst days in South Africa.
Brian Lamb: In your book, ”No Borders” and at the very end, the last sentence, ”Therefore, for me, the United States is an odorless country, neutral and so my nose is always pointed toward Mexico.”
Jorge Ramos: Its yes and when I wrote that I felt exactly the same way but that’s
Brian Lamb: That’s 2002.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, and there’s there’s also an anecdotal story to that, I’ve broken my nose three times, I can’t smell at all so I’ll never forget I’ll never forget that I was born in Mexico. I’m teaching my children to respect their roots, their history. I am very proud of having been born in Mexico and I am incredibly proud of being a U.S. citizen.
A few years ago I was talking to Isabel Allende, you know the Chilean writer and she was telling me that for many years she was having this conflict, she didn’t know if she was from Chile or if she was from the United States. She felt that she needed to choose and then 9/11 came and she realized that she didn’t have to choose, that she could be at the same time from Chile and from the United States. I feel exactly the same way. I fortunately think that I don’t have to choose. That I can be both from both countries, from the United States and from Mexico and very proud to be from both countries.
Brian Lamb: Let me read from another one of your books called ”Dying to Cross,” which was written 2003, 2004. After the Victoria Texas, what the trailer than had 19 people die
Jorge Ramos: Nineteen people died trying to get into the United States.
Brian Lamb: The Mexican government you’re writing this, the Mexican government has never under any administration made any kind of serious effort to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants to the north, and that is because it wasn’t and isn’t in the country’s best interest. The main focus of President Vicente Fox’s electoral campaign was that of informing the populists about the dangers of crossing the U.S. border illegally, but the end result was nothing more than thousands of posters which were printed up and tacked on electricity poles and bus station walls all along the border. Without the money sent home by Mexican immigrants living in the United States, Mexico’s economy could crumble.
Jorge Ramos: That’s true and keeps on being the truth right now. The Mexican government is not interested in stopping Mexicans from coming to the United States. It’s an economic problem. As long as there are Mexicans making $5 a day and jobs for them in the United States in which they can make exactly the same amount of money in just a half an hour and an hour, they’re going to keep on coming. For look in Mexico, just to keep up with the new workers coming into the job market, they would have to create about a million jobs per year and they’re creating not even 100,000. So what’s happening with the 900,000 Mexicans, every single year, young energetic creative powerful Mexicans who don’t have a job? Well, they come to the United States. Every single year we have an average. The numbers have declined lately but on average there’s about 450,000 immigrants coming into the United States illegally every single year and they’re coming because there’s jobs for them. So it’s an economic problem and (inaudible) in a country for all, it’s an economic problem that requires an economic solution.
Mexico right now, and I have to say that, is not interested in stopping that because what are they going to do with these 900,000 new workers every single year without a job. I’m sorry, it’s something that has to be dealt with with both governments. The United States thinks that they can deal with immigration alone, by themselves. It’s not possible, it’s completely it’s not possible, they have to deal with Mexico in this issue.
Brian Lamb: Your mix it up a lively discussion from time to time. Here’s a little bit of an excerpt from Lou Dobbs back and forth that happened after Lou Dobbs left CNN.
Jorge Ramos: You insist on calling undocumented immigrants aliens illegal aliens or illegals.
Lou Dobbs: No, no, no, no, no.
Jorge Ramos: You just mentioned that. You just mentioned that word.
Lou Dobbs: Jorge, please, please. You didn’t
Jorge Ramos: Well
Lou Dobbs: I mentioned what word?
Jorge Ramos: President Barack Obama, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, they’ve stopped using the word illegal immigrants or illegal aliens or illegal’s. Would you change that now? Can you change that now?
Lou Dobbs: I don’t see the point. I don’t see the point. You see
Jorge Ramos: I mean you don’t call because the argument.
Lou Dobbs: Please, please listen to me Jorge.
Jorge Ramos: This is the point, the argument is that you are calling them illegal, but at the same time you don’t call illegals
Lou Dobbs: (Inaudible). I want to have a conversation, do you want (inaudible)
Jorge Ramos: But I’m going you the argument, I’m giving you the argument.
Lou Dobbs: No, you’re giving me I want to talk to Jorge Ramos.
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Lou Dobbs: I don’t need you to be a mouth piece for other points of view. (Inaudible) other points of view here to you.
Jorge Ramos: Answer my question.
Lou Dobbs: I bring you mine, bring me yours.
Jorge Ramos: These are my questions, but this is the argument Lou, you’re calling them illegals, but you don’t call illegals all the companies, the American companies that have hired them
Lou Dobbs: They hell I don’t. I have said all along that the illegal employer is the central issue in this entire mess.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, but you don’t call them illegal.
Lou Dobbs: Jorge, you know of course I call them illegal. I call them illegal employers and by the way, I take on the establishment, I’m not rolling over to play games here. I’m taking on the power structure and you’re trying to I mean for what.
Brian Lamb: Where did that happen? What was that?
Jorge Ramos: He had left CNN and we were doing this interview for our Sunday morning talk show Al Punto. What’s so interesting is that I think there’s a double standard when we call illegals, undocumented immigrants and then we don’t realize that thousands of American companies are hiring them, still even now. Millions of Americans take advantage of their work and we don’t call them illegal American companies or we don’t call them illegal U.S. citizens. So there’s really no an illegal human being and what’s so interesting is that I understand that if you are unemployed in this country there are 50 million people who are unemployed and let’s talk about the fears of many people they are concerned that if we legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants they might lose their jobs or they might not have a chance to get a new job.
The reality is that all immigrants contribute much more to the economy of this country than what they take away from it and that immigrants pay taxes, they create jobs and they don’t take away jobs from American citizens, I mean I haven’t seen thousands of millions of Americans going to the farm fields in California or in Texas and Florida picking up tomatoes and oranges. The houses and the apartments where we live were built by undocumented immigrants. What we had for breakfast and for lunch, it was harvested by undocumented immigrants. So I think it’s a double standard and hypocritical to call them illegals. Something really interesting is that President Barack Obama constantly makes an effort not to call them illegal immigrants.
Brian Lamb: Let me ask you this because as I read your books, I kept seeing undocumented immigrants.
Jorge Ramos: And I never call them illegal.
Brian Lamb: I know and but I just wanted to find out what the what the definition was. I got on the internet, got to Wikipedia and its says I want to read you what they said and I want to try to find out why this is so offensive. An alien who is present in a country which is foreign to him or her unlawfully or without the country’s authorization is known as an illegal alien of the country. An illegal alien commonly refers to a foreign national who resides in another country unlawfully, either by entering that country at a place other than a designated port of entry, or as a result of the exploration of a non immigrant visa. What is so offensive about being somebody that’s in that category of being called illegal?
Jorge Ramos: The even Benjamin Franklin was when Germans were coming in, Benjamin Franklin was concerned that the United States and especially Philadelphia would be Germanized, the same way many people thing by now that the United States is being Latinized by Hispanics. I think words matter. If we can get into this discussion on immigration respectfully, changing the words, I mean if we are able to change the words and when you are saying illegal, Brian, you many people think that you’re talking about terrorists and criminals and that’s what we have to change. We have most undocumented immigrants are not criminals. Most undocumented immigrants are not terrorists, and when people realize the immigrants create jobs, they pay taxes, they don’t take away jobs from anyone else. And when people realize that immigrants are not criminals, the justice department in a study, in a recent study concluded that despite the fact that the immigrant population has more than doubled in the last decade, crime has gone down, 35 percent when it comes to violent crimes, 25 percent when it comes to robberies. America’s Majority Foundation, a conservative organization, they in a study they noted that in the 19 states where there’s more with the largest population of immigrants, crime has gone down 13 percent but in the other 31 states crime went down only seven percent, in other words, even in Arizona the FBI concluded that crime has been going down. So what I’m saying is immigrants create jobs and what I’m saying is the that the more immigrants that you have the less crime that you have. Once we understand that I think it’s going to be easy to understand why we are so offended sometimes when people call them illegal, because when you use the word illegal, many people think criminal and that I think John McCain doesn’t use the word, Barack Obama doesn’t use the word, Newt Gingrich has made an effort not to use the word. So if we can change the words, maybe we can change the debate a little bit.
Brian Lamb: Forget the label for a moment, what is there any other country in the world that would let pick you number, 11, 12 million people who are not documented go into their country?
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: Where?
Jorge Ramos: The United Nations recently published a report claiming that there are 214 million immigrants in all the world and we have only 11 million of them. Undocumented
Brian Lamb: But how many are those are they all illegal?
Jorge Ramos: Undocumented
Brian Lamb: They’re all undocumented?
Jorge Ramos: And then overall probably the percentage of immigrants in this country are foreign born would be about 14 percent at this point. So yes, we’re talking about 35 million immigrants in this country.
Brian Lamb: Let me ask it this way, I’m not on a side on this, but I wanted
Jorge Ramos: No, that’s OK.
Brian Lamb: To get how you’re thinking. Or what let’s say they’re I’ve heard them, Americans who are very much in favor of people from outside here and certainly people from Mexico or anywhere, Hispanics, but what they really don’t like is the fact that they are not here with documents. I mean is it possible because it gets this thing gets so emotional that people have a legitimate reason for not wanting people here that are not documented?
Jorge Ramos: I understand and its, I think I think we can all agree that the immigration system is broken. We can all agree that nobody wants nobody likes undocumented immigration. Not even undocumented immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants. I think we can all agree that people should not die at the border. I think we can all agree that the U.S. government should not separate families and that it is impossible to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. And also, I think we can all agree that the United States has the right to protect its borders. And I perfectly understand that, but we also have to understand that they are here not only because they wanted to come here, they are here because thousands of American companies need them, hired them, and because millions of Americans are taking advantage of their work. So I think it is a double standard and hypocritical to criticize undocumented immigrants and at the same time, benefit from them. Many of the people who are criticizing them are being benefitted every single day by their presence in this country. So there’s something that we have to do something. It is impossible, incredible that the most powerful country in the world is persecuting and discriminating 11 million people, going against the principals of the Declaration of Independence.
Brian Lamb: You have had a little back and forth over with a gentlemen named Hugo Chavez.
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: I want to show some video of you on a Univision newscast, public needs to read it’s not it’s done in Spanish, but its a couple minutes but it shows you your position on Mr. Chavez and is it pronounced Chavez or Chavez.
Jorge Ramos: In Spanish it’s Hugo Chavez.
Brian Lamb: Chavez, not pronouncing the H. OK, let’s watch.
(Inaudible Foreign Language).
Brian Lamb: There’s a documentary playing in this town right now by Oliver Stone and every review says he loves the guy. What is going and you hear a lot of Americans that - not a lot you hear Americans say what a great President this guy is. What’s the deal?
Jorge Ramos: He’s not a Democrat and that’s the problem. It’s that simple. President Hugo Chavez right now, he has concentrated all the power in Venezuela, he controls the congress, the controls the Supreme Court, he controls the electoral body that organizes the election, and he controls the army. He controls most of the media in Venezuela. So that’s not a democracy.
Brian Lamb: Does the public like him?
Jorge Ramos: Some people like him. And not only that, I mean he has been able to win many elections so that is a reflection on what he has done in Venezuela, but it’s not only a very corrupt government but it’s an authoritarian government. And he has won elections because the political position has disappeared basically because he sometimes doesn’t allow candidates to participate in elections.
Brian Lamb: But do you have any sense of why a man like Oliver Stone would like him, admire him?
Jorge Ramos: Well, I mean some people like dictators and yeah, and it
Brian Lamb: But could he make
Jorge Ramos: It’s interesting, I mean for instance, as an interview, it’s fantastic just to talk to with Chavez, as I did, or with Fidel Castro, they’re interesting people, I mean but the fact that they are interesting you can’t get away from the fact that are dictators.
Brian Lamb: I want to read back to you something he wrote about interviewing.
”When I interviewed presidents or people with lots of power, I especially like imagining them with their big bellies and backaches, bags under their eyes, balding with hair coming out of their ears and dirty nails that haven’t been cut. In other words, I like lowering them to a manageable and realistic level. If you let them stand on their untouchable super human laurels, you would never have a good interview.” I just when I read that I wondered what I should do interviewing you, after reading that. Anyway, what’s your point here?
Jorge Ramos: That the point is that the most important mission of the journalist, the most important mission in journalism is to confront those who are in power, to question those who are in power, so we can prevent abuse of power. Who’s going to ask those questions to Fidel Castro and to Hugo Chavez and for that matter to any president? I think that’s our job as journalists to ask the tough questions and sometimes of course if you go to Venezuela, the second or third time that I talked to Hugo Chavez, I went to Caracas to talk to him and he didn’t want to talk to me in Venezuela, so he told me, let’s go to the border with Colombia, so I had to take another flight, that by the way an airplane that almost fell because there was almost had an accident and when he decided to talk to me he was surrounded by hundreds of people, so whenever I was asking a question I was booed and whenever he was answering he was getting applause from all the people. That’s difficult so I would have to think of Hugo Chavez, not as the authoritarian president of Venezuela but I would have to think of Hugo Chavez as just a human being who’s sometimes insecure and who has kids just in order just to have a conversation, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to ask a single question.
Brian Lamb: Which American politician, and you’ve interviewed almost all of the big names, was either the hardest interview to get them to say anything or the toughest interview because of just we’ll just say tough, which one? And you’ve done President Obama, you’ve done John McCain.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, well I mean and all the U.S. presidents since it’s always difficult to go to the White House and confront the president, it’s never easy.
Brian Lamb: Why?
Jorge Ramos: Well, it’s always the most powerful man in the world and it doesn’t matter that you know them during the campaign, once you go to the White House and you talk to them in the White House it’s a different story. It doesn’t matter that you might have had good conversations with them during the campaign. I spent a lot of time with George W. Bush in a train in California while he was campaigning and he was a very different person when he was in the White House.
Brian Lamb: How?
Jorge Ramos: The power gets to them and they are very fast completely isolated. They lose touch with reality very, very fast. They tend to forget their promises very fast and there is a sense I’ve noticed in all U.S. presidents, there a certain sadness and when they talk about having the lives of others in their hands, their decisions to go into war, especially with George W. Bush and now with Barack Obama, it’s been a heavy, heavy weight on both of them
Brian Lamb: Do you feel that with any other, Vicente Fox or
Jorge Ramos: No, you don’t feel that. No.
Brian Lamb: Or President Calderon, you don’t
Jorge Ramos: No, no, you don’t feel that and when a president goes to war, when there are thousands of lives in their hand it’s a different feeling because you can have a great conversation with George W. Bush even with President Barack Obama on anything and we can discuss immigration or the economy, but when it comes to war, their faces change completely and you notice honestly a sadness and of course there are many things that they can’t tell you, but you just have to say war and they change its completely different. it’s something I don’t think they realize that until they are in the White House, in the oval office and that sense of history and really being responsible for the deaths of other people, its I’ve never seen it anywhere else, I mean not with any other foreign leader, it’s not the same. With U.S. president is completely different. It’s very different to be the leader of the world than just to be another president.
Brian Lamb: Back to one of your paragraph in one of your books, ”Mexico,” your home country originally, ”in the early 80’s was suffocating me. If I had remained in Mexico I would probably have been a poor, censored, frustrated journalist or maybe a psychologist or a university professor, speaking out eternally and pathetically against those who censored me.” What are there, 115 million people in Mexico?
Jorge Ramos: A hundred and five million.
Brian Lamb: Hundred and five million. Biggest city one of the 10 biggest cities in the world, Mexico City, right on our border here. Why is it so different down there than it is up here?
Jorge Ramos: We have different origins, different culture, different history, different priorities.
Brian Lamb: But why not why this censorship, why the fear of
Jorge Ramos: Well, since 1929 until the year 2000 Mexico had the only one party, the PRI, it was I wouldn’t say it was a dictator ship, but it was almost a dictator ship. As a matter of fact, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa call it the perfect dictator ship because it didn’t bring present itself as a dictatorship but it was and back then, just imagine growing up in a government like that that would not allow me forget about questioning the president, today anything bad, anything critical of the president so I was 23 or 24, Brian, and then I did a report on the presidency in which I included two members of the opposition party two members of the opposition and then they didn’t allow me to run that report. It was complete censorship, they (inaudible) you can use them in your report and you have to change your report, instead of being critical of the president you have to say that he’s a great president and then I quit. I was very young, I was idealistic, as I still are. And I decided to quit, I quit, I sold my car, I got $2000, got accepted at UCLA and came as a student in 1983.
Brian Lamb: Now, you say you’re in 13 other countries.
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: Any of those countries ever censor your newscasts?
Jorge Ramos: I’m sure they do. Sometimes it’s funny during electoral periods right before the elections they don’t run our news casts and there are many times in which somebody decides that they interview or the report is too strong and they simply don’t run it. It happens all the time. I mean even now it happens all the time. So I’m used to that. I find that all the time, but what’s so wonderful about the United States, I’ve honestly I’ve never seen any other country which has such a fantastic openness when it comes to freedom of the press. It is amazing how we treat our presidents here. It’s something that you would not see in almost any other country in the world.
Brian Lamb: Why do you think that is?
Jorge Ramos: Well, the first amendment. If when as a journalist it’s such a privilege just to have the first amendment and to be in a country in which it is not only possible, but healthy to criticize your own government. Remember during the healthcare debate when President Barack Obama called Democrats and Republicans to the White House and they were discussing openly in front of the cameras for how many hours? Six hours? Maybe more. I was talking to the same day I was talking to Desmond Tutu, the South African Archbishop and he and we were so amazed by this experiment in democracy and he was saying this is wonderful and which country in the world he was saying, Desmond Tutu can do this in which the President would be confronted in front of millions of people by the opposition party and nothing happens. They go back to their homes and nothing happens. In other countries when you would do that you would have a coup or a military coup or you have demonstrators in the streets. No, nothing happened, you can do that in probably we’re so used to that but it is a wonderful and a marvelous experience.
Brian Lamb: And the argument here is that they’re not open enough.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, I mean yes they’re not open enough and we would like for them to be even
Brian Lamb: Or that it is staged.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, and we would like it to be even more open, but still if it is fantastic if you compare it to other places. Of course in Great Britain they have these their culture their political culture is different and the debate is not only common but almost obligated all the politicians. But I’m still amazed by what I can see here in the United States.
Brian Lamb: In your books you talk about your children, you talk about your wives and you mentioned a girlfriend earlier.
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: So you’re what two wives? Two kids?
Jorge Ramos: No, no, no. I’ve been I have two kids. I’m divorced, I was married once and I’m 52.
Brian Lamb: And the kids are where and doing what?
Jorge Ramos: My daughter is doing an internship right now at the European Union. I think she wants to get into politics, fortunately not into journalism. And Nicolas, he’s 12. For many, many years he wanted to be a soccer player and right now in the middle of the World Cup I mean you can understand that. I brought him with me to South Africa and we had the best time watching the U.S.-Great Britain, so I don’t know. But hopefully neither one of them are going to be journalists, hopefully now.
Brian Lamb: And where do they live on a full time basis?
Jorge Ramos: Well, Nicolas is living with me in Miami and Paola is living in Paris right now, doing her internship.
Brian Lamb: In this the newest paperback book that you have, ”A Country for All: an Immigrant Manifesto.” At the back in the acknowledgements you name great Latino pioneers and I want to go through them and have you tell us why you think they’re great. Cesar Chavez?
Jorge Ramos: Cesar Chavez is the one who gave us this fantastic sense of the importance of being Latino and being proud of our roots and he’s the one who fought for Latino rights and for immigrant rights before anyone else and there’s no question that because of because of him, because of Cesar Chavez I am here. And there’s no question that because of Cesar Chavez now we can say that no one can make it to the White House without the Hispanic vote. He’s the one who opened the way for many of us.
Brian Lamb: Died when? Early 90’s?
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: And his actual job at the end was what?
Jorge Ramos: I think the most important thing when I think of Cesar Chavez, I think of Latinos and immigrant right as a civil right issue. I think that when we think of him. We Latinos we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have progressed so much without Cesar Chavez. That was his main job.
Brian Lamb: Dolores Huerta.
Jorge Ramos: Dolores Huerta, remember that Barack Obama used to say ”si se puede,” yes we can. It was Dolores Huerta I was having a conversation with her during the campaign
Brian Lamb: Who is she now though? I mean who
Jorge Ramos: She is still working with immigrants in California and its she is the one who started this trace of ”si, se puede,” yes we can. That actually she was she supported initially Hilary Clinton and then she after Hilary Clinton lost the nomination she went support Barack Obama.
Brian Lamb: Did Barack Obama get that slogan from her?
Jorge Ramos: At the end, yes he did. I mean he didn’t know that but it was Delores Huerta who stared it. Even before Cesar Chavez used it.
Brian Lamb: I’m not so sure you say Julian Samora.
Jorge Ramos: Julian Samora, he was a professor in the southwest that he’s one of the first persons to denounce discrimination of Latinos. I remember one of the paragraphs of this marvelous professor when he was saying that he remembers going to parks and not and reading signs that would say no Latinos and dogs allowed in the park. When you have that kind of experience and go through the most difficult times in the United States against minorities and succeed. That’s an example that you want to follow year round.
Brian Lamb: I found him to be from Pagosa Springs Colorado and a University of Notre Dame professor and he’s no longer alive. Now I should know this but I don’t, Raul how do you pronounce his last name?
Jorge Ramos: Raul Yzaguirre.
Brian Lamb: Say that again?
Jorge Ramos: Yzaguirre.
Brian Lamb: Y-Z-A-G-U-I-R-E.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, Raul Yzaguirre is the
Brian Lamb: The La Raza man?
Jorge Ramos: He used to work for La Raza and if we put everyone together, if we put Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta and Julian Samora and you want to find right now the so called father of all Latinos, it would be Raul Yzaguirre. He has been fighting for Latino rights all his life, even today.
Brian Lamb: Do you know him?
Jorge Ramos: Yes, I know him personally and he’s he has been a mentor to me and to many, many Latinos in this country. Because of them, we remember that we Latinos are part of this country, but at the same time, we can maintain certain elements of our Latino culture.
Brian Lamb: And the final name is Henry Cisneros.
Jorge Ramos: Henry Cisneros. Not only I work with him, but let me first say something. I am completely convinced that the first Hispanic president has been born. It’s simply a matter of math. There are more Latinos than African Americans and the African Americans already have their first president. I think we should have our first president.
Having said that, Henry Cisneros was the first person we all thought was going to be the first Hispanic president of the United States and he has been fighting for Hispanic rights and opening up possibilities, he’s the probably the first politician that open up the possibility of having a Hispanic president.
Brian Lamb: He was the mayor of San Antonio for years and the head of HUD here, but what happened? Why won’t he be President?
Jorge Ramos: Well, I mean for personal reasons he just didn’t continue in politics, but his presence is being felt even now
Brian Lamb: But the personal reasons were he was he had to admit having a mistress and all that. Is that fair that he has to step aside because
Jorge Ramos: I don’t think so. I think he would have been a fantastic first Hispanic president.
Brian Lamb: He’s still around. I mean
Jorge Ramos: Yes, but I don’t think he’s interested in running for office anymore, but he would have been he would have been a wonderful a wonderful president. But now we’re thinking about the new generation, the new mayor of San Antonio, or George P. Bush, the son of former governor Jeb Bush, we’re talking a Democrat and a Republican. Those are two great young possibilities for having our first Hispanic president.
Brian Lamb: All right, I have to admit, the most unusual thing I read of all in your background and I want you to talk about is Marcel Proust.
Jorge Ramos: Oh, Marcel Proust.
Brian Lamb: Why Marcel Proust, where did you come across him?
Jorge Ramos: Well, it has to do with my notes. I was I was born in 1958 and back then, I don’t know why, maybe it was the same thing here in the United States, but the medical fashion was to have a birth with forceps. Is that how you call them?
Brian Lamb: Yes.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, so I was actually pulled into life through my nose. My mom remembers that I don’t know if it makes lot of sense that I was - but my thinks that I was actually pulled into life through my nose and I she still remembers having having a huge scar on my nose for many, many years. So I little bit little I started losing my sense of smell. I was I always had a crooked nose and then I have three surgeries to try to sort of correct that and then I broke it again playing basketball and I had a fight and then they broke it again. So anyway, I’d lost it so many, many times that my sense of smell is incredibly limited. So Marcel Proust in his novel, when he was talking about the smell of madelines and how that smell would bring him back to his youth is exactly how I feel. Sometimes just that little tiny sense of smell that I still have when I smell the grass after it rains, it brings me back to Mexico, it brings me back when I was five, six, or seven.
Brian Lamb: Did you read all seven volumes of the
Jorge Ramos: No, no just probably the first two.
Brian Lamb: In college or where?
Jorge Ramos: It was in college. But that image of Marcel Proust and his character smelling the Madeline, it was so apt to my nose, to my crooked nose and to me.
Brian Lamb: And you also quote often Tocqueville.
Jorge Ramos: Who?
Brian Lamb: Tocqueville. Alexis de Tocqueville.
Jorge Ramos: Yes, well I mean he was Alexis de Tocqueville was the great adventurer. I mean I would have it would have been fantastic to be Alexis de Tocqueville and somehow we are off. I mean sometimes I when I we just had the fourth of July, I was in Washington and New York just imaging a modern 21st century Alexis de Tocqueville going to see the fireworks in Washington or in New York. What a wonderful experience and again, the same idea that Alexis de Tocqueville got that what he was most fascinated about this country was the equality. Everyone is equal in this country and it’s exactly the same thing that I see right now. The fact that Barack Obama without a father, an African American made it to the White House, what else it’s the best example that we have that anything absolutely anything is possible in this country and I am another example of that. I mean
Brian Lamb: Back to your work, we see members of Congress on the floor and in committee speaking English.
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
Brian Lamb: Lincoln Diaz-Belart, Luis Gutierrez from Illinois and Mr. Diaz-Belart from Florida, I believe he’s retiring.
Jorge Ramos: He’s retiring
Brian Lamb: But you interviewed them in Spanish.
Jorge Ramos: We do that in Spanish.
Brian Lamb: I wanted to show a little bit of
so people can see what we do on Univision.
(Inaudible Foreign Language)
Brian Lamb: You’re in there and who is the woman?
Jorge Ramos: Maria Elena Salina my
Brian Lamb: Co-anchor.
Jorge Ramos: My Co-anchor. We’ve been working together for more than 20 years now.
Brian Lamb: No, you’re bilingual, obviously. Can you tell the difference I mean is there a different emotion that people have when they’re speaking Spanish versus English?
Jorge Ramos: In your video I hope that you had the opportunity to watch the World Cup through Univision and the World Cup through ESPN. It’s a you might think it’s a completely different game and you might think it’s a completely different year because the way we express our emotions in Spanish is completely different than the announcers on ESPN. But the fact is that but going beyond that, that U.S. is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world, with the exception of Mexico. Latinos are a growing factor in this country again, they’re going to be the majority eventually. so I’m not saying that we’re becoming a bilingual country, but I’m saying that already parts of the United States, its already a bilingual and that part of our culture as the United States of America is just to have another language. This is the only country in the world in which I know people who complain that we speak Spanish or French or other languages. In other countries that’s exactly what they’re looking for in their students.
So I it is fantastic that we have the possibility of speaking both English and Spanish and yes, the emotions are different. What you just showed it was a debate on immigration and in most members of Congress of Hispanic heritage speak Spanish fluently.
Brian Lamb: What’s the difference in the emotion of a Cuban American and a Mexican American? Over this issue of immigration a lot of other issues. Why is one often more conservative than the other and one more less?
Jorge Ramos: Its’ very simple, it has to do with a lot. The Cuban Americans they have been very successful in presenting their point of view in Washington. They know how Washington works and they have been able to protect people coming from Cuba. So if you are a Cuban and you get into the United States and you are able to touch U.S. territory, you can stay here legally. But if you are a Mexican, doing exactly the same thing and you touch U.S. territory you are going to be detained and deported.
Brian Lamb: What do you think of that?
Jorge Ramos: It would be great if Mexicans would have the same rights as Cubans. Of course it’s a different a completely different situation because Cubans are coming from a dictatorship, escaping from a dictatorship and most Mexicans and Central Americans are coming for economic reasons. And again, I think the United States has the right to protect these boarders. But we have to change the immigration system. It’s not working. It is not right that some have certain rights and others are treated differently that’s it doesn’t make any sense. I understand however why Cubans are doing it. I mean I’m all in favor of protecting those who are escaping from that dictatorship in Cuba.
Brian Lamb: And you live among a lot of Cuban Americans.
Jorge Ramos: Yes. Not only that, my son and my daughter have a Cuban blood in their veins. So yes, of course
Brian Lamb: That come from their mothers?
Jorge Ramos: From their mothers, yes.
Brian Lamb: All right, here is another clip, but this is the opposite. This is you in English interviewing English speaking
Jorge Ramos: OK.
Brian Lamb: Member of congress.
Jorge Ramos: With an accent with my accent.
Brian Lamb: John Boehner. This isn’t (inaudible)
Jorge Ramos: Yes.
(Inaudible Foreign Language)
Brian Lamb: Why do you think John Boehner sat for an interview?
Jorge Ramos: They need Latinos. It’s very simple. The Republican party has to make peace with Latinos on immigration and Republican party has to make peace with Latinos in general. If they don’t they’re going to lose election after election after election. That’s it’s that simple. Where is John McCain right now? I interviewed John McCain well many times, but once in September 2008 and back then he told me that he was in favor of a path to citizenship and he consider all undocumented immigrants as god’s children. Now he’s running a very, very tough primary and what has happened? So are they not god’s children anymore? Why isn’t he when we need Republicans right now, President Barack Obama cannot do it alone? Where are the 11 Republicans that voted for immigration reform three years ago? If the Republican Party doesn’t make peace with Latinos on immigration first and then on other issues, they’re going to lose them and they’re going to lose they’re going to lose the power for many, many generations from now. It’s something interesting. Ronald Regan used to say that all Latinos are Republicans, it’s just that they don’t know it because Latinos tend to be more conservative, they are against abortion, they are against big government, very suspicious of big government. So it’s true, in terms of values, Latinos are very close to the Republican party. In terms of history, they feel much more comfortable with the Democrat.
Brian Lamb: In this book, you have several quotes up front and this is the one, it’s the last of actually five, four of five of them. The last one is Barack Obama, May 23, 2007, he was in the U.S. Senate, the time to fix out broken immigration system is now, what did you think of his American University speech?
Jorge Ramos: It was not only a good speech, I think it was a great speech but with lack of action and it’s not enough. President Barack Obama, when he was running for office, when he was running for the White House, he told me in an interview, May 2008, that he was going to have an immigration bill during his first year in office, 18 months later nothing has happened. President Barack Obama broke his promise. It’s that simple. and the speech was fantastic, but we need action. He could have stopped the deportation of students. He could have stopped the deportation of the parents of U.S. citizens. He could have called for a bipartisan White House summit on immigration. He could have even presented his own proposal, his own immigration bill as he promised during that campaign and he didn’t. So the time for speeches is over. I mean the time for words is way over, we need action.
Brian Lamb: Question to you about being an anchor person and being in journalism and why you take sides and I want to read Elie Wiesel except from his fiction ”Night.” We must take sides, Elie Wiesel said. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim, action is the only remedy to indifference the most insidious danger of all. But why do you as a journalist take sides on this issue?
Jorge Ramos: I would say that as an immigrant I take sides. I think its valid to I do my job as a journalist and every single night I am not supposed to and I should not and I will not give my opinion during the newscast, neither doing my political show Sunday morning because that’s not my role, I was not hired to give my opinion and I will not give my opinion as a journalist. But at the same time, I think people really understand that you and I we have opinions and as an immigrant I have the privilege of being an immigrant with a voice, not only because I’m on TV every single night, but because I’m invited to programs like yours and because there are millions of immigrants who don’t have a voice. There are millions of immigrants who are invisible to the rest of America. So as an immigrant I think I have to take sides, and I’m taking side with those immigrants who came behind me.
Sometimes it is giving voice to the voiceless and making visible those who are invisible. So as an immigrant and as a journalist and as a writer, I think I have not only the right but the duty to do that.
Brian Lamb: How many books have you written?
Jorge Ramos: Ten. This is the tenth.
Brian Lamb: Which one sold the most?
Jorge Ramos: I wrote some letters to my children about three years ago and that was the most personal and the one that sold the most. And hopefully this will sell well.
Brian Lamb: And this is a was it in hardback, ”A Country for All.”
Jorge Ramos: It was it was no, it was written in Spanish originally and now it’s updated with the Arizona and hopefully we won’t need this book two years from now. This is a book for actions. It’s calling for action. Hopefully we’ll get immigration reform in the next few years and then we won’t need a book like this.
Brian Lamb: You can watch Jorge Ramos at 6:30 east coast time. Is it repeated in the west coast at the same time?
Jorge Ramos: Six- thirty yes. It’s just like
Brian Lamb: On Univision, and we thank you very much for joining us.
Jorge Ramos: Thank you. And this is wonderful to be able to talk so much.