God Bless América



RENT $1,100 [market]

SQUARE FEET 575 [one-bedroom in house]

OCCUPANTS Verónica Rosendo [publisher, La Voz de México]; Fernando Rosendo [retired]; América Rosendo [third-grader, P.S. 12]

Why did you name your daughter América? [Verónica] We were at the hospital. Her father says, “Well, we are here in America.” So—América! She likes music like “God Bless America.” Because the song is for her. We’ve lived in this apartment two years. I came to New York about 15 years ago from Veracruz. My husband was born in Guanajuato. He started reporting in Los Angeles in 1980.

Mexicans are the fastest-growing group in New York City, reports the Department of City Planning. The population more than tripled from 55,700 in 1990 to 186,872 in 2000. Mexicans are the third-largest Latino group here after Puerto Rican and Dominican. I would say the total of [documented and undocumented] Mexicans here is a million. When we started the paper in 1992, there was only one Mexican restaurant in Queens. Now Roosevelt Avenue is all Mexican. Also, Fifth Avenue and Wyckoff in Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx.

I also read that a big Mexican middle class is forming. Still, most are poor people. They come from the mountains. They don’t know how to read or write. [América] In Mexico, it is not that well. They only give you $10 a day. It’s not fair in Mexico.

What are you working on, América? Your pencil is poised in the air. [Verónica] She has a column in La Voz. [We look at the 52-page September 23–29 issue.]

“La Página de los Niños”! “Contemporary Mexico—the Reconstruction of the Country.” You begin: “Although the constitution was proclaimed in 1917, the war continued in various regions of Mexico until 1920. By the time it finally ended, many things had changed. . . . Destruction was everywhere . . . ” Powerful! Soon you’ll have a blog. The living room looks like a second newsroom. Our office is in Astoria. I work both places. [América] I help them at 2:30 or something.

I was reading about the transnationalism concept—a population living between two countries transcends its geography—they visit, send back money. Mexicans sent an estimated $10 billion to their families in Mexico in 2002. [Verónica] Mostly those are the grocery store owners. They go back every two to six months, open new businesses. Over there, there are no businesses. Everybody’s here. It’s only all old people and little children there.

América, is your next column going to be about the elections? [She puts her arm around her mother.] [América] I don’t like George Bush because he only likes Americans.

Now you’re wrestling with the cat on the floor. No, I’m just bringing her down.

Does the paper have a stand on Bush or Kerry? [Verónica] Not yet. The Hispanic community doesn’t care about Kerry or Bush. Kerry and Bush don’t have anything for immigration, nothing concrete for the illegals. Mexicans are very important for the economy and the jobs. Did you see the film A Day Without a Mexican? All the restaurants and factories stand still. The Mexican community wants to work, pay the bills. There are lots of citizens but they don’t vote. It’s like in Florida. When Bush won, there was little controversy. Mexicans say it’s the same thing in Mexico. They win because a rich person put them in.

Were you a reporter before you met your husband? No. I worked in a beauty salon on Fifth Avenue. I did nails. My husband moved here in ’88. He was a machinist. When we finished working, we’d go work on the small newspapers. They don’t exist anymore. Now just La Voz. We did everything ourselves.

Do you go to all the restaurants? My favorite is Colombian, because of the soup. I’m expecting a baby in March.

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