Iliana Lavastida, executive director of Diario Las Américas, awarded in Barcelona for her career
The Miami-based Cuban journalist was awarded an Alegría de Vivir prize to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Spanish-language daily.
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In the Spring of 2013, Lucrecia, a renowned Cuban singer and actress based in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain, presented the Alegria de Vivir awards to distinguish and recognize the work of professionals in different fields.
For this year's edition, the jury of the award sets its sights on an outstanding Latina journalist, Iliana Lavastida, executive director of Diario Las Américas (based in Miami), with its 2023 Exceptional Trajectory award. Diario Las Américas was founded on July 4, 1953, making it the second oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, after La Opinión in Los Angeles.
"The Spanish language grows and progresses in Miami and the Cuban culture survives: 60% of the families living in South Florida preserve the family Spanish," said Lavastida in an interview with the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia being announced the winner.
According to Lavastida, the bulk of readers of the Diario Las Américas are Spanish speakers in Florida, mostly Cubans in Miami, many of them "nostalgic for a Cuba that doesn't exist" and with a common yearning: "to rebuild a Cuba that is falling apart," she told La Vanguardia.
Lavastida is convinced that the success of Diario Las Américas is down to its multiplatform media — web, paper, social networks — that offers diverse points of view and different information formats: from quick news updates to documentaries and in-depth reports, such as one dedicated to Operation Pedro Pan, where they recounted the lives of thousands of Cuban children who emigrated alone to Miami after the revolution.
The documentary, entitled El adiós de la esperanza (Farewell to Hope) directed by artist Lieter Ledesma, was presented a few weeks ago at the Miami Film Festival in the presence of almost all its protagonists (five of the 14,000 Cubans arrived as children unaccompanied by their parents to the U.S. as part of Operation Pedro Pan) who told their lives to the film's producers.
Among the testimonies collected is that of Antonio 'Tony' Argiz, today a successful businessman who founded and managed a firm with 800 employees in various parts of the U.S., and the rector emeritus of Miami Dade College (MDC), Eduardo Padrón.
"During the filming, we met people whose memories include a childhood broken by separation from home. Some of them can't help but burst into tears with those memories," Lavastida told EFE about the documentary, filmed in Spanish and subtitled in English. According to the Cuban journalist, the film gathers memories, anecdotes and testimonies of those children of Cuban exile "who were marked by the traumas of experiences in orphanages or with unknown families," in addition to having to learn to communicate in an unknown language.
Born in Havana, Cuba, 57 years ago. Lavastida immigrated to Miami 20 years ago thanks to the help of her father, who had emigrated earlier and worked hard to bring the family here. She was 37 years old at the time and had an eight-year-old daughter. Her goal as director of Diario Las Américas is "to do responsible journalism, without sensationalism" and to publish the work of journalists persecuted in Latin America, from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
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