Twenty years ago, in March of 1992, El Puente published its first issue for the public. The faith-based dream became a reality and since that time El Puente has recorded the ups and downs of the Latino presence in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan.
Thanks to the participation of many this main purpose has been achieved.
When the newspaper began there were no Spanish language newspapers or publications in the state of Indiana. Even though there are up to third generation Latino families in the area, in 1990’s the Latino population was scarce to the point that there were only three small stores in the entire area; one in Ligonier, one in Goshen and one in South Bend.
If you look around, and even taking into consideration how many people have closed their businesses and even left the area, one can see how many stores and businesses cater to the Latino population. Banking services and businesses in general opened Spanish language opportunities and hired bilingual individuals to serve that part of the population.
We have seen this population struggle with the language on arrival, studying until being able to function in this environment and even taking higher responsibilities as the circumstances arose.
We have seen immigrant children who are completely integrated to this culture as also are the children of immigrants born here. The school corporations responded with generosity to the needs, many times creating new programs that had not existed and learning by trial error.
Sale of houses and cars increased more and more as the local factories demanded more workers and they were able to earn the down payments to fulfill their dreams.
We have seen shattered dreams and broken homes as the result of laws that adversely affected immigrants. And we saw some of them lose their jobs and houses.
The new times brought about a climate of fear and suspicion. Not knowing if it was safe to drive without a valid license or have a bank account, or where their children would be taken in case of deportation of one or both parents.
Through all these joyful and difficult times, some of the local people were ready to embrace the newcomers, acknowledging the value of their presence, while others have been against them to the point of persecuting them.
Many times El Puente not only recorded and published people’s events, but in many occasions, laws and information were translated and printed as a resource. El Puente has been an advocate and has tried to help create bridges, as its name indicates, among the many cultures that populate the area.
There have been many other publications, very few have survived. Some have gone under due to diverse situations. Arriving at this 20 year anniversary has been quite a continuous challenge.
In our first issue to dedicated our work to the Lord. By serving others, we wanted to serve Him.
This year we would like to have an ongoing celebration with the participation of many members, readers, clients, and collaborators. It will be a step-by-step process joining hands with others, as we have done for twenty years.
If you want to be part of this celebration, don’t hesitate to come forward, letting us know how you would want to participate.
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