The first Felix Varela National Awards for Excellence in Spanish language journalism will be presented by the Al Dia Foundation Tues. Sept. 30, in the Great Court at Temple University’s Mitten Hall in Philadelphia.
Guest speaker at the event will be Alberto Ibarguen,an award jury member, President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The prizes will go to Claudia Nuñez of the Los Angeles daily La Opinión in the category of Spanish-language Journalism, and to Matt O’Brien of the Daily Review of Hayward, Ca., for English language coverage in the Hispanic Immigration Stories category.
Witer Claudia Nuñez from Los Angeles daily La Opinión received the First Prize for her series “Esclavos del Siglo XXI” (Slaves of the 21st Century).
“In this well-documented series on Mexican immigrants lured to Northern California by phony promises of good paying jobs who end up as virtual slaves in service jobs, Ms. Nuñez captures the human drama of this story of our times,” the jury said,adding that “the series is exquisitely crafted, meticulously reported and captures the human dimension of the male and female immigrants caught in a pernicious web of human trafficking, which has become a crisis of global proportions.”
Honorable Mentions in this category were for “Guerra en los bosques: Traficantes amenazan,” by Eva Sanches, from El Diario/La Prensa?of New York; and “Luchó hasta el fin: Voluntarios desafían una montaña para encontrar a un inmigrante,” by Hiram Soto, from the newspaper Enlace of San Diego, California.
English-Language Coverage Category
In the category of English-language Print Journalism, In the Hispanic Immigrant Stories Category, First Prize went to Matt O’Brien for his series “The Mayan Way,” originally published in the Daily Review of Hayward, California. “An expertly told tale of the immigration of indigenous rural Guatemalans to a suburban community in the San Francisco Bay area, this series, published in English and Spanish, explores the push and pull factors of the Guatemalans' immigration: the violence and poverty that drives them north, the promise that beckons, and the risks they encounter to survive in the alien culture of the United States,” the jurors said.
Honorable Mentions in that category were: ”Death in the Desert: Jesus' long journey home,” by Mariana Alvarado Avalos of the Arizona Daily Star and ”The Best of all Bad Choices,” by Angelica Herrera, from The Chicago Reporter. In the Digital Journalism Category the jury decided that the prize position will remain vacant this year.
"Hispanic print journalism has been contributing to the national dialogue for the past 200 years, ever since Father Felix Varela y Morales founded the first known Spanish-language newspaper on the East Coast in Philadelphia," stated Hernán Guaracao, Chairman of the Al Dia and Editor and Publisher of Al Dia Newspaper.
“It is about time we recognize this type of overlooked American journalism produced today by hundreds of Spanish-language publications across the nation,” he added.
Other than Alberto Ibarguen, jury members include: Albor Ruiz, Columnist of the New York Daily News,; Zita Arocha, Associate Director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communications Studies at the University of Texas, at El Paso; Emilio Sanchez, U.S. bureau chief for EFE, a Spanish-language news wire service; and Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Relations Secretary of the Mexican Government, and current syndicated columnist of El Pais in Spain.